Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The iPhone one year later

It’s been exactly a year since Steve Jobs unveiled at Macworld Expo Apple’s most important product of 2007, the iPhone (aka the Jesus Phone). I’m working to finish our journal paper assessing the iPhone and its impact, and thus have been collecting data to support our arguments. The most important data will probably come next week when Jobs talks about Q4 sales — hopefully including meaningful overseas data.

One thing I came across is a year old assessment of the iPhone by Padmasree Warrior, who until a month ago was CTO of Motorola. The gist of this was that “we’ve been doing this for a long time and they’ve made a lot of mistakes.”

A year later, the iPhone has been a strong success (at least in the US), not only in terms of units and business model, but also in changing how consumers and the industry think about mobile devices. Largely on the strength of the iPhone, Apple shares were up 133.5% in 2007, more than Google, HP, Intel or Oracle.

Meanwhile, Warrior and her mentor (then-CEO Ed Zander) have been forced out due to Motorola’s mediocre results at introducing compelling new products since the RAZR. I’m told Motorola has trouble producing good software, which could be said for almost all of the world’s mobile phone makers — but not Apple. Motorola shares are roughly 25% below where they were when Warrior offered her critique.

People draw a bad hand or make mistakes, so it’s not as though I wish Warrior ill. However, the original column makes no sense to me whatsoever: I cannot understand why anyone would predict failure for a direct competitor in print — as in sports or politics, it’s a no win proposition. If you’re right, then you can beat them in the market and no one will remember what you said. If you’re wrong, then not only do you look petty, but clueless as well.

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