There are no signs of tents yet outside the San Francisco Apple store, but with less than a month left until the launch of the iPhone in the US, Apple-watchers are getting excited.
Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray put out a note yesterday saying he expected Apple to ship 48m of its new-fangled mobile handsets in 2009. That may seem like a large number, but according to Gene, it would require Apple capturing just under 8 per cent of the North American handset market and less than 3 per cent market share of the rest of the world over the next two years.
Meanwhile, Crunchgear’s "The Futurist" says fragile screens, software bugs – and oh, that buttonless keyboard! – could all cause the handset to bomb. Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch has his doubts about that thesis, as do we: Sharp edges on the new MacBooks aside, if there’s anything Apple can be counted on to get right with the iPhone, it’s the design and user experience.
Where could things go wrong? It’s price, not design, that stands the best chance of de-railing Apple’s iPhone hopes. When Steve Jobs unveiled the basic model’s $499 pricetag in January, the gasp from the crowd was audible. With business customers unlikely to flock to the gadget until it become compatible with Outlook and other business email services, convincing millions of consumers to part with $500 for a phone could be a tall order. But it’s not out of the realm of possiblity – not by a long shot.