Tuesday, June 26, 2007

iPhone Mania Wags CEOs With A User Experience That Hasn’t Even Happened

The iPhone debut is imminent. I'm reminded of a lot of things such as the whimper that went along with the iPod unveiling and how it was iTunes that made it such a hit. What will the "killer app" be for the iPhone? I think it will be a combo of iTunes and Safari. Back in October of 2001, Apple had very mixed reviews of the iPod and not a lot of buzz. That is very different now. On top of consumer buzz and watercooler talk, the very tops of large corporations are all being forced to comment on the iPhone.

This is amazing to me. I still remember the Newton, Pippin and the AIM alliance. The CEO of Panasonic didn't comment on any of those things. It's stunning to now watch them all being wagged by the iPhone, and it doesn't even exist yet. Past user experience successes pay off in much larger ways than you can ever anticipate. Here are some of the quotes from these thought leaders:

Qualcomm - CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs:
"It's caused all the other manufacturers to step up their game," Jacobs said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I can't tell you the number of people who say, 'Oh, this is our iPhone killer.' It's already to that point where everybody's reacting."

Omnifone - CEO, Rob Lewis:
Omnifone says its MusicStation is the mobile industry's answer to Apple's iPhone: an all you-ca-eat, over-the-air, full-track music download service that works with most phones. Omniphone claims its user interface and functionality are virtually identical across all manufacturers' handset models, very different from clunky initiatives of the past. *NOTE: Past user experience failures hurt current initiatives, regardless of how good the new offerings are.

Verizon - CEO, Ivan Seidenberg:
Seidenberg also added that he thinks the iPhone will actually help drive business for Verizon's high-end smart phones and advanced data services. "The iPhone will add excitement and stimulation to the market," he said. "If we have done our job, then we will be a beneficiary. I hope it does reasonably well. We just added four new devices in the past month," he said. "The new BlackBerry is flying off shelves. The way we see it, our customers have price points and service packaging that is different."

Google - CEO, Dr. Eric Schmidt:
Google's CEO Eric Schmidt plays up Apple's partnership with Google over the iPhone. He announces that google technology will be hardwired into the iPhone. "What you are really asking is to see my iPhone," he quipped before producing a handset from his pocket. "iPhone is a powerful new device and is going to be particularly good for the apps that Google is building. You should expect other announcements from the two companies over time," he said.

Panasonic - CEO, Joe Taylor:
When asked by Shapiro if today's CE products are too complex, Taylor said, "Consumers have had no problems opening up a TV, radio or DVD and operating it. The story goes downhill from there. Consumers say they want all these features, but then the take them home and realize they don't need them all or feel they are too complicated."

AT&T - CEO, Randall Stephenson:
"Of the one million plus (people), research is showing that 40 percent are not AT&T wireless customers today. That speaks volumes to us," Stephenson said in a speech at the NXTcomm communications conference in Chicago. "I really believe this is going to be a game changer. Not only for us but the industry at large," he said.

To handle the expected onslaught of consumers rushing to purchase the iPhone this Friday, AT&T has hired 2,000 additional employees and will close their doors at 4:30pm to prepare for the 6:00pm unveiling.

The next time you're working hard on an innovative new customer experience, let all of this inspire you.

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