By John Gruber
Today’s message is pretty simple: Apple is going for iPhone market share in a big, big way.
The iPhone 3G seemingly only has two major hardware additions: 3G networking and GPS. The battery, I suspect, might be stronger (and, given the shape of the back of the iPhone 3G, perhaps a stronger but bigger battery). No front-facing camera. No video from the rear camera. Instead of building a better $400 iPhone, they worked on halving the price of last year’s phone.
Clearly there are trade-offs to switching to the more traditional subsidy model. According to Gizmodo, iPhone 3Gs will now require in-store activation,1 and Apple will no longer be getting a cut of the monthly phone service fees. The upside, though, is obvious: at $199, and with the expansion to 70 countries around the world, Apple is going to sell a shitload of iPhones.
There’s no longer any question whether Apple is going to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008. 20 million sounds more like it to me — with maybe 10 million in the holiday quarter alone.
So, step one: sell a ton of iPhones and grab a huge chunk of worldwide smartphone market share. That’s the new $199 iPhone 3G. Step two: introduce features that people and companies love but which tie them to the iPhone. That’s the SDK — games and apps from App Store, and custom in-house apps for the enterprise market.
The physical phone is not the story. A year from now, the iPhone 3G will be replaced by another new model. The platform is the story. Platforms have staying power, and, once entrenched, are very hard to displace.