In the first year of the iPhone’s existence, Apple sold 6 million of them; brought the thing to 70 countries; and inspired an industry of misbegotten iPhone lookalikes from other companies. By the end of Year One, you could type iPhone into Google and get 229 million hits.
Now there’s a new iPhone, the iPhone 3G. More importantly, there’s a new version of the iPhone’s software, called iPhone 2.0. And then there’s the iPhone App Store, which offers thousands of add-on programs written by individuals, software companies, and everything in between.
This is huge. Remember how mystified everyone was when Apple called its music player the iPod—instead of, say, iMusic or iSongs or something? The reason was that Apple had much bigger plans for the iPod—photos, videos, documents, and so on. Maybe they should have saved that name for the iPhone.
Yes, the iPhone is still an iPod. And it’s still the best Internet phone you’ve ever seen. It shows fully formatted email (with attachments, thank you) and displays entire Web pages with fonts and design intact. It’s still tricked out with a tilt sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and that amazing multitouch screen.
Therefore, it’s still a calendar, address book, calculator, alarm clock, stopwatch, stock tracker, traffic reporter, RSS reader, and weather forecaster. It even stands in for a flashlight and, with the screen off, a pocket mirror.
But now, thanks to the App Store, the iPhone is a fast, wicked fun pocket computer. All those free or cheap programs can turn it into a medical reference, musical keyboard, time tracker, remote control, voice recorder, tip calculator, e-book reader, and so on. And whoa, those games! Hundreds of them, with smooth 3-D graphics and tilt control.
All of this sends the iPhone’s utility and power through the roof. Calling it a phone is practically an insult.