With ‘Defensive’ iPhone, Apple Tries To Redefine Category

As Apple joins the S&P 100, this Economist offers some iPhone hype (along with messianic Steve Jobs comparisons) and takes the views of a couple of analysts, three weeks ahead of the gadget’s June 29 US arrival.

Tim Bajarin, Creative Insights: The iPhone is a “defensive” move for Apple, which was faced with rivals improving their handsets’ music features to a degree that could jeopardize iPod – the challenge was not so much defining a new product category as reinventing an existing one.

Ben Reitzes, UBS: iPhone’s new touch-screen interface “should be seen as a new ‘mega-platform’ that will support other products – ultra-portable computers, say, or new TV sets – … [providing] a logical chronology of products for years to come.”

A second piece, on “what others could learn from California’s master of innovation”, reminds us that some of Apple’s most innovative products, iPod included, have originated outside of the company, with Apple partnering with consultants and others in a “network innovation” approach.

Jobs may only be targeting one percent of the handset market initially, but, crystal ball gazing side, whether mainstream consumers will want a multi-function device with no buttons, and available from just one carrier will only be borne out by sales figures. We also will be interested to note responses to the iPhone in the first few weeks – the first weeks after 2005’s iPod nano launch were dogged with complaints about easily scratched screens – and the iPhone’s screen is a whole two inches bigger on the diagonal.