Why? Why has the iPhone been so successful? Why has an overpriced, under-featured gadget generated such excitement across the country, with people spending days waiting in line for a chance to spend $500-$600 for it?
After all, the iPhone does have a lot of limitations. As Wikipedia puts it:
iPhone lacks a number of common handheld features, including voice dialing, voice recording, instant messaging, memory card slot, MMS, A2DP (stereo bluetooth), common Bluetooth file transfer, GPS capability, text copy and paste, native games, and support for MP3 files as ringtones.
So what’s the reason?
Although the iPhone lacks much functionality, what the iPhone does do it does really, really well. The iPhone lacks many features common to other phones, but its feature set is sufficient for most people, and most importantly, it implements those features in a superior fashion.
Every product or feature has two conceptual components: the idea, and the implementation of the idea. Other phones may already have the same ideas, but with the iPhone Apple has really nailed the implementation.
And of course, Apple has done a fantastic job marketing this thing. They actually haven’t done a lot of marketing. Instead, they’ve used the consumer base to market the product for them. Everyone was talking about the iPhone. The media. Blogs. Podcasts. The iPhone was the coolest thing ever before it was even released. And as the release date approached, Apple leaked out additional details to keep the excitement going.
The whole campaign was very well done. The campaign was so successful, however, that in my opinion it does raise some concerns about society’s inordinate excitement about “stuff.”
But from a marketing standpoint, Apple has done a great job with the iPhone, even though the product itself isn’t the greatest. Though when a product has as many positive aspects as the iPhone, one is more likely to forgive or overlook the negative aspects.
What would be interesting to see is a technology product that is as close to perfect as possible in both the idea and the implementation, with a great feature set, great implementation of that feature set, and great marketing of that feature set. Who knows? Maybe in the future it’ll be something even more trivial than a cellphone.