Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /homepages/22/d241110539/htdocs/degen/wp-config.php on line 19
Degen.Net » Gadgets

Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Podcast Picks Part II

Posted on May 14th, 2008 in Apple, Business & Industry, Gadgets, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Tech & Science, Windows | No Comments »

As promised, I’m back with part two of my personal podcast selections.

Grammar Girl – http://grammar.qdnow.beta.libsynpro.com/rss

If your reading this blog post there is a good chance you are a blogger yourself, in which case this cast is a must for you. But regardless how you use the English language, Grammar Girl has helpful tips for you. Each installment of GG is quick and to the point, focusing on all kinds of grammar usage issues.

Linux Action Show – http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheLinuxActionShow

Begin tired old Cliché: “If you only listen to one Linux Podcast, this should be it!” Chris and Bryan are not only incredibly insightful and up on all the latest happenings surrounding the Open Source community, they put on one darn entertaining Podcast.

And if you want all the casts put on by this resourceful duo (like the afore mentioned CastaBlasta) you can subscribe to the unified Jupiter Broadcasting Feed at – http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/?feed=rss2

Linux Basement – http://feeds.feedburner.com/linuxbasement

Great Tutorials, Fantastic close-nit community and as if that is not enough, you get and Open Source Song every episode! Yes, you heard right an OSS “Song” performed by the ever talented Chad Wollenberg, host of the the Linux Basement.

Slashdot Review – http://slashdotreview.com/wp-rss2.php

Don’t have time to sift through all the great content on Reddit, Digg, Slashdot or a myriad of others, no worries, Andrew McCaskey does an amazing job editing and reading them to you. Under 15 minutes and you are up to date with the day’s tech/geek news.

Super Average Podcast – http://feeds.feedburner.com/SuperAveragePodcast

Looking for a great down to earth spiritual talk show? The interestingly named “Super Average Podcast” is a weekly round table of four everyday guys from different walks of life, talking about what faith means to them.

This WEEK in TECH – http://leoville.tv/podcasts/twit.xml

Leo Laporte, nuff said! Ok seriously if you have not ever heard of the “Twit Army” this is the Leo’s flagship podcast – part punditry, part news, part interview show, and plenty of random thoughts, This Week in Tech features a weekly round table (guests change from show to show) discussing the state of all things tech.

This will have to do for now, but you have gobs of stuff to listen to now, so find some new podcasts already.

XM + Sirius together at last, too Little, too Late

Posted on April 9th, 2008 in Business & Industry, Gadgets | 1 Comment »

After years of lobbing and backroom shenanigans it appears that there is yet another mega-wedding in the near future for the two (and only) satellite radio providers – so much for that antitrust stuff hu? It’s ok, while many are busy crying fowl about the monopolistic implications of the merger or how bad for the consumer this deal will be, I’m still left with the question, when, if ever will I subscribe to satellite radio?

My skepticism has little to do with the low level of satisfaction most have with terrestrial radio offerings, but rather how many people have already abandoned listening to the radio all together, favoring instead off-line content on iPods or streams directly to their portable devices (I.e. Cell phones or notebooks.) It’s this plethora of great digital content that can be played back regardless whether you are in front of your computer at the office on the go in the car, or out for a jog, Digital Music, Podcasts and even Video are all just a click away. Comparing this content delivery methodology to the aging passive radio model leaves me scratching my head as to whether I care if it comes from terrestrial or satellite!

If the competition from alternative media was not threatening enough, satellite radio has to overcome marketing and financial problems. Considering that neither XM or Sirius had a thriving successful (profitable) business on their own before the merger; it is rather foolish to believe that now manacled together they will be a drastically different creature. Besides, redundancies and the sheer volume of technical and logistical challenges to be worked out internally make communicating a unified, consistent and easy to understand model to customers and potential new users next to impossible. This will be a tall order, especially as employee moral is certain to be tepid at best, and layoff or consolidation fears ripple through the company.

And what of hardware incompatibilities? Programming and channel changes? And of course there is the cost – both for new devices and recurring monthly. No thank you, I think I’ll stick with my podcasts 😉

The Un-SXSW Report

Posted on March 12th, 2008 in Apple, Gadgets | No Comments »

So is it just me, or is it normal to feel like the only blogger not in Austin this week? Yea, yea, perhaps its just some snarky jealousy showing through here, but since everyone in the tech media universe is covering South by Southwest this week I figured it would be refreshing to blog about something else!

The iPhone Strikes Back!

Hell might not have froze over, but there was a refreshing fall like breeze reported wafting throughout the nether regions as Apple announced last week that its Version 2.0 iPhone software will support Microsoft Active Sync.

While third party apps and the availability of the SDK garnered much of the blog-o-sphere’s attention this week, the inclusion of native Microsoft Exchange support is the big take-away from this announcement. This opens the door for the iPhone into most business – an arena whose stance toward the device has been somewhere between indifferent to hostile.

Chalk it up as a “win” for both Apple and Microsoft, who are both trying desperately to increase market share in the high-end smart phone niche before Google weighs in later this year with Android.

One SPAMtop per Child: Raise of the affordable Subnotebooks

Posted on February 21st, 2008 in Business & Industry, Gadgets, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

Thanks to the OLPC initiative’s XO device rolling out to emerging markets, you can look forward to some changes on your desktop even if you never own one yourself.

The Good, The Bad and the Slender?

There is no doubt that getting technology into the hands of impoverished, and developing youths in these markets will empower a new generation to strive for a prosperity that families and whole villages have never know – that’s certainly good. But while this technology is inherently neutral, these new found skills and tools will present individuals with the opportunity to employ them for positive or nefarious purposes!

“The lure of easy money has a very strong appeal”, Glenn Frey mused in the 80’s classic, Smugglers Blues. And while the illicit activity might be different, in the case of these SPAMtop syndicates compared to that of the crime lords on Miami Vice, the motive to exploit hapless users is strikingly similar. Armed with new found knowledge, computing power, free time and an untraceable “mess” internet connection, just mix in some abject poverty, lack of social morals and two bit governments with no principals, ethics or will to enforce local laws, much less international ones, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a new wave of fishing and bot-nets the likes of which we have never seen before.

If you think that assertion is a bit alarmist consider this; they don’t call them Nigerian scams for nothing. Heck forget automated spam attacks as we know them today, these can be detected, intercepted and prevented. But not this new generation of attacks, with this kind of man-power, organized cyber-crime rings can just pay kids with XOs to write personal emails to their unsuspecting marks around the world. Not to be overly dourer, but imagine the pour souls that will be duped by these young scammers with the time and tools to not just email, but build phony web sites, hack credit cards, employ social network sites, even hold IM conversations all with the goal of building up the trust of the victim. Mercy, and we thought the Islamo-terrorist where a threat to Western Civilization!

What about the Slender?

Take heart, its not all bad. Another positive upside is the recent availability of affordable and innovative mini and micro sized notebooks. In addition to XOs offering, there are Intel’s classmate PC initiative, and the very well received Asus EEEpc, which unlike the OLPC is targeting the retail market directly with a sub $500 all flash based unit. But more then these specific units, there are new incentives to bring down prices on this segment of the market; which has been very pricy in the past.

So the next time you delete a get rich quick scam email or are contacted by a member of a foreign royal family, enjoy it on your inexpensive sub-notebook and just remember to say thanks OLPC!

It’s CES 2008 Baby!

Posted on January 10th, 2008 in Business & Industry, Gadgets, News & Updates | No Comments »

Ladies and Gentlemen, the hour of the greatest tech event on a geek’s calender has come. Its the second week of January which means I’m writing this from the incomparable Las Vegas!

 

This year I was joined by long time friend Marc “Blue-Hair” Ortega – seen below seriously geeking out!

Marc gets his Geek on!

 

So watch for postings in the days to come with updates on products, highlights and lowlights of the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

Mobiles and Music Unite!

Posted on November 1st, 2007 in Business & Industry, Gadgets | No Comments »

In the 1980’s music lovers where energized by the fusion of an established medium, Television, and the record business; the result had everyone demanding “I want my MTV!” It’s a fantastic example of two technologies cross-pollinating each other and forming vibrant new products and business avenues. Today a similar marriage of media and technology is taking place in the wireless mobile space – and its going to be big!

The last decade has shown us the evolving face of music, and I’m not talking about the raise or fall of any genre, style or particular artists, but rather the publics method of procuring and digesting their musical selections. Music is moving faster then ever, from car based MP3 Players, to the culture of “sharing” music via P-to-P networks, to the ubiquity iPod users jogging or commuting on the train; music is all digital and always mobile. Music on wireless devices is just the next logical extension of this move to a more on-line and mobile community.

One Gadget to Rule them All

Its simple really, users want one device to handle all their mobile needs. Convenience
is cool – who wants to carry multiple devices, but again fusion is the key here. Up till now the convergence of PDAs and Cell phones has represented only a limited segment of the total mobile market; partially due to the marketing of high-end PDA phones to business users vs. consumers, but largely due to price points on these handsets, but that’s changing. The next generation of musically inclined, consumer oriented phones are available now, they’re slicker, sexier and more geared for the mass market then ever before.

While the relatively pricey ($399) iPhone garners most of the spotlight, in this “Music enabled” phone space, many other options abound and at subsidized prices under a hundred bucks. You can be sure that manufactures like Motorola, LG and Nokia will add more music friendly phones at entry level prices, as the real money is in subscriptions not hardware.

As consumers become more comfortable listening to music on their phones, rather then a dedicated music player like an iPod the next wave of music and technology fusion will smash ashore.

The Social Networking of Mobile Music = Payday

This might be the single biggest paradigm shift that the music industry has ever had to deal with – Music on cell phones. But not because of the intricate legal challenges that the RIAA might dream up, rather due to the inherent social nature of music. On one hand music and communications devices should prompt a, “Well duh”, response, but surprisingly, the implications of this new delivery model have been under reported.

“Surprising” when you take in account the recent valuations of social networks like Facebook. Stay with me now… When you combine the features of an iPod like player on a closed distribution network, that has realtime two-way communication; suitable not only for texting, but ad placement and online sales – connect the dots. We are witnessing the birth of an entirely new social network entertainment and communications platform!

What I’m talking about here is Napster, Myspace, Twitter, iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, and Google all mashed together on a mobile platform – not a fixed desktop or clunky notebook – but a phone, the form factor users already are accustom to using and carrying with them at all times. Its a virtual link into every users wallet as far as telcos are concerned.

Given the present state of exclusive contracts and locked phones in the US market, once a wireless provider get you “hooked” on their phone and service you are locked in and your provider has a few tools to keep you there!

Convenience is King

Let’s face it, we are suckers for ease of use and simplified solutions. Telcos know this, and music on mobiles provide carriers yet another opportunity to exploit this basic human desire.

The sales pitch will go something like this: “Now your whole music collection is available anywhere you are! With {insert provider’s name here} online music library you can easily browse, sample and buy your favorite songs all from your phone.”

It will be criticized by audiophiles and tech aficionados, but is doesn’t matter – the mainstream market, especially everyone under 30 will go gag-gag and start downloading the flavor of the day tunes like a six year old binge eating Halloween candy.

Smart marketing would include an ability to “gift” a song to your friends, building on the social networking aspect of the service, and further shackling you and your “in network” friends.

The Subscription Model finally gets its day in the Sun

While all of these songs could be made available on an ala cart pricing schedule, the truly innovative providers will team with or build their own subscription model. All the music you want for XX dollars a month. Lots of upsides to this approach:

Low-end phones with limited memory will have that same access to the music library buy offloading songs played less often. Limited memory phones can be made available at a lower cost to get users into the service.

Users libraries will be available across multiple phones, so if you change out your handset all your selections just reload to it seamlessly.

End-to-end DRM; again tech savvy customers hate it, but mainstream users are clueless about it. Couple a locked phone platform with a proprietary network and these songs aren’t going anywhere – making content providers happy and more apt to cut deals.

Just like all subscription models, consumers will put on their own handcuffs – if they leave their carrier or cancel the music portion of the contract, none of the music remains.

Finally, an iTunes alternative. A subscription service properly implemented gives carriers a real option to present that customers might prefer over the 800 pound gorilla that is Apple’s iTunes Store. Again, this makes content providers happy, as they are sick of there agreements with the online distribution Goliath.

The Time is Now – Sort of…

So when will get to see and hear all this goodness? The short answer is soon – as the pieces are still coming together. Phone hardware is more than up to the challenge, marketing is on-board and hyping the offerings whether the carrier’s infrastructure is ready or not.

With the holidays upon us, and if not “The Holidays” themselves certainly the holiday shopping season, wireless companies are desperately working to convince all that its time buy. Thanks to recent high profile product launches of multi function devices like the Apple iPhone and many Microsoft Windows Mobile based phones, music enabled devices are on everyone’s wish list this year, but should users take the plunge?

It’s safe to say that for early adopters and users willing to “hack” a solution, now is the time, but mainstream adoption of this new bread of music enabled phone is still a ways off. As carriers, who are more motived then ever, setup there contracts with music stores or build out their own we will see better integration with handsets and the marketing to entice new customers. Look to see this level of fusion later in 2008, making next year’s holiday season the break through for Music on Mobiles.

Can you hear us now Wireless Carriers?

Posted on October 16th, 2007 in Business & Industry, Gadgets | No Comments »

As a life long free market capitalist, I have to question just how screwed up an industry has become when I cheer the thought of new government legislation to “regulate” business practices. Yet that’s exactly where US consumers find themselves as state and federal representatives consider vesting a “Cell Phone user’s Bill of Rights”upon mobile providers.

Whether its a great awakening of consumer awareness that we have been pushed too far by greedy monolithic wireless carriers, or the feverish crescendo of pain users are expressing over all things iPhone – Politicians are taking an interest in the idea of new wireless regulations. As state houses and capital assembles around the country begin to debate measures to protect constituents you can be certain that cell providers are watching with great interest.

How did we get here?

While it feels like it’s been an over night transition, this nexus of user frustration toward wireless companies and said companies’ desires to bulk up their bottom lines has been coming for some time. Think back – circa 1990s; In the past cell phone adoption in the US was viewed as a business expense or the purvey of high-end “luxury” and “geek” markets. Subscriber penetration was lower, but usage costs were generally higher due to heavily metered plans and punitive roaming polices. Fast forward to the present, how the marketplace has changed. Cell phones in North America are so pervasive that many consumers opt to cancel traditional residential land-lines, preferring instead the convenience of full-time mobile usage. Team home phone replacement with ubiquitous family plans and it’s normal now to see such proliferation of phones that practically every eight year old is talking/texting away.

This drastic increase in the number of mobile devices has done more than just multiply the number of area codes we need, it’s been a financial field day for likes of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. Thanks to rapid user growth and the addition of consumer features like ringtones, gaming downloads, music, and texting carriers have snared the masses, now how to keep and fully exploit these subscribers?

Hello, some service would be nice!

Has anyone every truly had a positive customer service experience with their provider? Really I would like to know, seeing as anytime I walk into a local company store to get help with my device or plan, I usually see the heard of bewildered looking, discontented people waiting in a 30 minute plus line to talk with a rep and turn around and walk out. Later, when I still need help and call the tech support group – and wait that same 30 minutes – I get someone ten time zones away struggling to read an English “support script” that does not address my issue, only to be told that I will need to be elevated to second level support and they will call me back in 4 hours. Or perhaps you need account billing help to get clarification on erroneous charges you have on a statement, only to be told those are not false charges but some “fee” that was not clearly disclosed at the time of purchase.

The examples go on and on, but the problem is obvious and remains unchanged – Cell providers really don’t care. Which leads us to our next point: do you think you are going somewhere?

“Help – I’m locked in.. and I can’t get out!”, of my plan that is.

Boat owners are familiar with the axiom – The “best day of your life” is both the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it! The same might very well be true of the relationship many have with their cell providers. Arguably, the single greatest factor contributing to mobile user angst these days is the discovery that you’ve been locked in. Locked in by a multi-year contract with early termination fees or the realization you posses a handset that is locked exclusively to one provider.

But these business practices should come as no surprise, as they serve the wireless companies’ best interest. By locking users into both their network and contract they mitigate subscriber churn. Considering the much heavier saturation of current US subscribers The last thing your carrier wants is for you be able to actually change or terminate service.

An Intervention is Required

So then the dye has been cast and the course certain – A federally mandated cell phone consumers bill of rights is destined to be made law? Not so fast. As with all things in politics a simple issue can quickly become clouded.

While consumers certainly have reason to be all worked up, demanding change is a good start, but what should the remedy be? Here are a few key points any Wireless Telco Act should tackle.

1. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Whether is is confusing contracts or sales/service reps that change their story depending on who you talk to – it needs to be clear, concise and concrete.

2. End phone subsides and the contracts that result. This is good for carriers, manufactures and consumers: Carriers get the cash upfront for the phone, Handset makers don’t have to sign exclusives with just one provider, and Consumers, having already paid for the phone out of pocket, are not subject to a contract or termination fees.

3. Ensure Phone portability – not just number portability. As much as possible the great divide of phone and network lockins needs to stop. If I buy a CDMA network phone from Sprint and want to switch to Verizon I should be allowed to do this. The same would be true for say AT&T and T-Mobile (Yes, I’m talking about the iPhone!)

4. Simplify Pricing/Service Options. Enough with the endless options already! Some strides are being made in this area by MVNOs like “MetroPCS” with a flat price for all that calls/txt/data you want at one price. It’s not that you can’t have tiers of service, but most consumers are just confused with billing plans and complex up charges.

It’s better to be Feared, then Loved.

I’m not sure how Machiavelli would have come down on the question of a mobile users bill of rights, but to barrow from him, his concept of using fear as a motivator might be just what wireless providers need – and that fear is being provide courtesy of pending legislation. Maybe that fear of action is just what the market needs. Let’s face it, codifying this type of legislation will take time – time that carriers have to enact positive changes.

This is the most likely outcome; Congress will stall long enough for a consortium of carriers to sign onto a self policed “Bill of Rights” – not an all bad outcome, as long as there is meaningful change in the practices as outlined above.

“I can’t hear you – must have a bad connection”

Other option is that the industry will continue to turn a deaf ear to the problem and ignore their customers. Bleak as this may sound it’s not unprecedented; look at the upheaval in the long distance market due to disruptive technologies like VOIP.

This much is certain, customers are frustrated and if action is not taken more and more will resort to “hacking” solutions like we have seen with the iPhone. But that’s a story for another column…

What’s So Great About WiFi Equipped Cell Phones?

Posted on October 4th, 2007 in Business & Industry, Gadgets | 1 Comment »

With practically everyone losing their minds these days over feature rich phones boasting everything from Bluetooth to PDA to Music/Video Player functionality, it would seam a foregone conclusion that WiFi will be the next “Must Have” in any new cellular device. And why not – with free and low cost hotspots dotting the landscape around the globe; it’s only logical that consumers should be able to take advantage of this ubiquitous 802.11 goodness?

 

Sounds cool, right. Now that your even more convinced of your need for a WiFi enabled mobile – prepare for your hopes to be dashed. Here is the dirty little secret that your mobile carrier doesn’t want you know; WiFi is not a welcome addition to their business model. Think about it? If you are able to access your favorite services like web, email and (heaven forbid) VOIP via free WiFi access points, what do you need those expensive voice and data plans for?

 

Skype on your mobile phone plus WiFi equals no revenue for carriers. Up till now the relatively limited number of higher cost PDA style phones capable of running both WiFi and a VOIP client have posed enough of a bearer to entry so that wireless providers have been low key about the threat. However, as more next generation handsets begin to offer WiFi at lower price points, a whole new front on the consumer rights war is about to open between carriers and customers. Cell providers, who already infuriate consumers with costly contracts and locked phones, are not about to lose out on potential revenue on both voice and data services – not without a fight at least.

 

In addition to the financial threat that WiFi enabled phones pose to wireless providers, there is the intangible marketing value they place at risk. With WiFi enabled phones, arguments that carries like to squabble over, like Edge vs EVDO, become irrelevant. Since even the slowest 802.11 speeds are multiples faster then any “3G” technologies on the horizon. Why do I care if my network is 1XRTT or GSM-GPRS, I’m not going to use them anyway.

 

Screwed again! Since WiFi enabled phones pose such a clear and present danger to the established wireless providers, you can be certain that they will oppose them, or if they do provide them the best interoperability functions will be crippled. Since the vast majority of cell phones are purchased from, or in conjunction with wireless carriers these “nerfed” or crippled mobile devices will have limited value to consumers. Which truly does beg the question, “What’s So Great About WiFi?”

Palm OS Quietly Announces: We’re just going to die now…

Posted on September 18th, 2007 in Business & Industry, Gadgets | 1 Comment »

How the mighty have fallen! With last week’s announcement that Palm will discontinue production of it’s yet to be birthed “Foleo” product many annalists are forecasting something that Palm loyalist have known for quite sometime – Palm OS is just a “dead man walking”

Foleo DOA

 

Palm, the innovator responsible for popularizing the handheld computer, is now teetering on the brink of obscurity, a jagged precipice that drops off into the great chasm full of once great, but now forgotten, technology luminaries that line the footnotes of computing history.

But how did this happen to Palm? It actually has much less to do with features or failings of a single product like the Foleo, and everything to do with a corporate culture lacking the bold leadership that created and defined the handheld market of the late 90s’. Think about it, just a few years ago Palm was in the driver’s seat; both in terms of market share and casting vision for the future of the Personal Data Assistant (PDA) marketplace.

The same cannot be said today. And its not that the iPhone is to blame as some might point out. Apple will play a major role moving forward, but does not account for Palm’s slide from prominence in the PDA/Phone space to date. No, Palm’s own internal lack of focus on innovative, yet easy to use devices and their corporate mis-organization is to blame. (You can read about that confusing history here if you don’t recall all the confusing dance steps of the PalmSource/3com/PalmOne/USRobotics/Handspring shenanigans.)

Treo 500

“Not so fast Eric!”, Say some of you who might not share my dire assessment of Palm’s future; pointing to the recent European product announcement of the Treo 500 as proof to the contrary. Hey, I’m a long time Treo user and fan of the platform, I want to believe in Palm, but a “sold out” Windows Mobile based revamp of an over 5 year old product is not going to be enough. BTW – remember that the Treo was never really Palm’s idea in the first place, rather a product that Handspring developed and was then absorbed back into Palm in the acquisition.

It’s that decision, to “sell out” to Microsoft Widows Mobile OS, that has doomed the Palm OS and they don’t even realize it. These new 500s are not even going to come with a Palm OS option.

I recall seeing the first Palm Windows Mobile phone, the 700w, at CES 2006. At that time I commented to the Palm rep that this pretty much spelled the end of the Palm OS – and by extension the end of software innovation at Palm – the truly great part of the picture Palm brought to the handheld party. The company spokeswoman was polite and assured me that Palm had no plans to cease offering the Palm OS, I smiled, but knew she was deluding herself.

I understand the Treo 755 comes in both “P” and “W”, flavors and technically the Palm OS is not dead yet, but the demise of Palm OS is getting closer every day. Announcements like we have seen in the past few weeks, to kill the Foleo and launch a new line of Windows Mobile only Treos, only serve to reemphasize Palm’s systematic and intentional abdication of its once mighty handheld hardware/software empire.

While this might sound like Palm OS fanboys rant against Windows Mobile its not. Ironically the future might prove that it is not Microsoft whom Palm has to fear, as Palm would make a wonderful handset hardware manufacturing division for Microsoft. Think about it. By 2008 Palm discontinues Palm OS and exclusively embraces Windows Mobile, shortly thereafter Microsoft acquires Palm and releases the Microsoft Treo 9000 (Zune edition) with wide-screen, WiFi and perhaps an exclusive deal on a CDMA network to counter a certain Apple product. Stranger things have happened?

Regardless how cozy MS and Palm get, I’m quite certain the future is not bright for the once dominant Palm OS, and for that I shed a tear.

Farewell Palm OS – So Long and thanks for all the fish!

iPhone: Can you hear me now?

Posted on June 3rd, 2007 in Apple, Gadgets | 2 Comments »

 iphone

Apparently Verizon won’t be able to for the next 5 years. USA Today via AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is barred from producing a CDMA version of the iPhone for at least 5 years. Both Sprint and Verizon utilize CDMA networks. Good business move – and is it just CDMA subscribers who will be missing out?

I would be quite surprised if Apple is truly pleased with this arrangement, as it limits the iPhone’s potential market. Now I’m not questioning the decision to select a GSM network over CDMA. GSM is clearly the more dominant global standard for cellular networks, and thus logical choice for an initial offering. But it’s not just GSM that Apple is locked into, it’s AT&T/Cingular specifically. Where does this leave Apple in its negotiations with other North American GSM providers (T-mobile for example) not to mention what are the international implications of this AT&T exclusive?

Others have been quick to point out that Apple should be selling iPhones direct at Apple stores anyway (ala the iPod.) Not so fast. I actually understand the advantages of working with an established mobile provider like AT&T. Remember, this is Apple’s 1.0 offering in the mobile phone market, and not to knock Apple’s engineering, but AT&T has been at this whole phone thing for a little while longer. Also, if by any chance, there are any technical difficulties, wouldn’t Apple rather all these end-users show up at a local wireless provider store then slam the Apple stores?

Time will tell just how big the iPhone is going to be. My bet is there are many lessons yet to be learned by the folks in Cupertino about the phone business. I’m just looking forward to a time when all the pre-realware hype to about the iPhone dies down and people start reporting real world experiences.