Apple Announces its iPhone – Someday
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As expected, Apple announced their iPhone – combination Apple cell phone and iPod – this week at Macworld. What wasn’t expected was that they announced a product which won’t be available for at least six months, and which may not even exist yet other than as a handful of iPhone proto-types.

Traditionally Apple announces what it hopes will be amazing new products each year at Macworld. Indeed, the world waits, collective breath held, for Steve Jobs’ announcements during his keynote at Macworld every year. Then the world rushes down to the Apple store to buy Apple’s latest and greatest.


And while we all knew that an Apple cell phone – an iPhone – was in the offing, we all still held our breath and waited.

Now, it isn’t unheard of for there to be a small delay between the time a product is unveiled at Macworld and the time it’s actually available on the shelves.

But six months?

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Apple is no fawning start-up, needing to play coy and flirt with the public in hopes of eeking along a relationship until the relationship can be consummated with an actual product.

No, Apple has a strong committed relationship with its loyal legion.

So what gives? What would lead Apple to announce its long-awaited iPhone at Macworld, only to then deliver the punchline “… in at least six months?”

 

Here are our theories. First, let us preface it by saying that we accurately predicted that the iPhone would be announced as a combination cell phone and iPod with wifi, and that it would either be sold completely unlocked and unassociated with any cell carrier, or that if locked it would be locked specifically to Cingular. (The iPhone as announced is a combination cell phone and iPod with wifi, locked to Cingular.)

First and foremost, we think that this is the scenario: some deadlines were blown or something unexpected threw a wrench in the works. We think that Apple fully expected to be able to announce an iPhone that would be available much sooner than in six months’ time, but somebody messed up, or some expectations were wrong, and so as a result, we think, Apple found themselves faced with the decision to move forward and announce the product which they had expected would be available on time, but wasn’t, or to not announce a product for which the buzz was already built. That’s a tough choice to have to make.

So what would those blown deadlines or unexpected wrenches be?

The first clue is the little throwaway line at the bottom of Apple’s site regarding the iPhone:

“This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.”

This tells us one of a few possible things. We think that Apple had first planned to sell the iPhone unlocked, so that you would be free to use whatever carrier you wanted (that would be a fantastic marketing hook), and then, too late, they found out that government regulations make it nearly impossible to sell such a device unlocked and without a relationship with a U.S. carrier. Having to create the relationship with Cingular (the likely candidate, given that Cingular was the one that had carried the iTunes-licensed Motorola phone that bombed) and re-apply to the FCC or whatever they had to do to make it right would certainly cause delays.

Or, that Apple simply couldn’t get the FCC approval they needed for some other reason, or at least couldn’t get it in time. Either they hadn’t allowed for the delay that working with such a regulatory agency could entail (or simply hadn’t been experienced enough in that area to understand it), or something unanticipated came up which caused the FCC to initially deny or delay the approval.

Of course, there is a third player not yet mentioned here: Cisco. Cisco, through their aquisition of Linksys, owns the ‘iPhone’ name.

It’s entirely possible that Cisco challenged Apple’s application to the FCC on the basis that they already own the iPhone trademark, and while this should not cause the FCC to deny or question Apple’s application on technical grounds, it certainly could cause it to get derailed just enough to put a kink in Apple’s announcement of the iPhone at Macworld.

We’ll probably never know the real backstory for certain, but what is known is that a lot of people are very frustrated, confused, and feel a bit betrayed by the announcement of an Apple iPhone at Macworld that is not actually going to be available for a long time to come.

And, oh yes, Cisco filed a formal lawsuit against Apple today over, yep, the iPhone trademark.

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One thought on “Apple Announces its iPhone – Someday
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  1. Re: FCC Certification
    Bear in mind that such applications become available for public inspection (including the owner’s manual). Rather than let tech journos speculate on this, that, and the other from the filing, iSteve can control the message pre-Day 1.

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