8 Unanswered Questions About Apple's 3G iPhone

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5. How will the iPhone 3G/BlackBerry Bold wars shake out?

The 3G iPhone's plastic back (white version).
An awful lot of folks who are in the market for a multimedia-savvy smartphone this summer will probably winnow their options down to two contenders: the iPhone 3G and RIM's BlackBerry Bold. Then the choosing might get tough. The iPhone has a bigger screen, multitouch input, an accelerometer, and the sophisticated multimedia content engine known as the iTunes Store. And its price ($199) is likely to be significantly less than the Bold's. But the Bold has a real keyboard that feels good and that--unlike the virtual one on the iPhone--never eats away at available screen resolution. It also sports a full-blown office suite rather than the iPhone's relatively rudimentary document viewers. I'm still not sure which phone I'd ultimately pick.

6. What does all this mean for the iPod Touch?

Until now, the iPod Touch has delivered all the goodness of the iPhone (except the phone part) for less money. But things look dicey for the Touch in its current form at its current price point: It doesn't have the iPhone 3G's GPS, and the 8GB and 16GB variants now cost $100 more apiece than their iPhone counterparts. If you're happy with your current phone and have no desire to lock yourself into a pricey two-year voice and data contract to score an iPhone, you might still be interested in a Touch, I guess. But it's hard to imagine that it will stay popular at its current price--and since Jobs didn't mention a price cut today, I wonder if its days are numbered.

7. Will MobileMe be worth 99 bucks?

New apps for the iPhone 3G.
Back in 2000, Apple released a free set of Web-based services called iTools. In 2002, the company redubbed them .Mac, and attached a yearly price tag of $99 to them--which is pretty pricey considering that the Web is rife with comparable (and sometimes better) free services. Yet another metamorphosis is imminent: .Mac will become MobileMe; and rather than focusing exclusively on the needs of Mac users, it'll target both Mac and PC owners who have iPhones or iPod Touches and want to keep their mail, appointments, and contacts in sync.

Apple marketing head Phil Schiller's demo was impressive--and MobileMe's Web-based applications looked as if they might be the first Apple services that live up to the high standards of Apple's traditional desktop software. The one thing that hasn't changed is the price--still $99 a year. A 60-day free trial will give prospective subscribers plenty of time to determine whether that's a decent deal.

8. Is the iPhone on its way to becoming Apple's primary product?

Jobs began today's keynote by saying that Apple had three primary product lines: the Mac, digital music, and the iPhone. Then he launched into a 2-hour keynote that discussed only the iPhone. The next version of Mac OS X, "Snow Leopard," was exiled to a session in the afternoon. That might be because Snow Leopard's release is so far in the future that Apple doesn't want anyone except developers to pay attention yet. But it's also a statement about how rapidly the iPhone has become core to everything that Apple does.

Those are the first eight questions that sprung to my mind, though I'll probably have dozens more as I mull over the keynote's news and the fallout from it. Got any answers or educated guesses--or additional questions of your own? We'd love to hear them.

Harry McCracken is the former editor in chief--and currently a contributing editor--for PC World.

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