Twice as Fast, Half the Price

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.

  1. For example, it appears Apple is no longer able to sell iPhones via their online store — only brick-and-mortar ones. ↩︎