A video editor in Apples marketing department peers into the windows of Final Cut Pro 4.0 and edits a Macworld Expo video guaranteed to take the audiences breath away. First comes the montage of celebrities gushing over the toy theyve been using for the past few weeks under the reasonable condition that if they let anyone see it, snipers will instantly converge. Then, the camera focuses in on Jonathan Ive, the Apple Wunderkind whos brought you such stunning designs as the PowerBook G4, flat-panel iMac, and the original iBook. (Well, two out of three aint bad.)
"With the iPhone," he intones, "we knew it wasnt enough to create an incredible fusion of style and functionality. We had to rethink the way people use a mobile device." The scene cuts to a rotation shot of a sleek sliver of white polycarbonate and chrome, complete with a gleaming illuminated Apple logo and ... Hey! Wake up!
Why? Because while those who sound like theyre smoking something may think Apple has lost its mind, there is no Apple iPhone, and there wont be, at least as long as Steve Jobs stays as close to Apples head as a black mock turtleneck. Of course, lots of people desperately want there to be one. They model design concepts in their 3D software packages and keep Mac rumor sites awash in "hazy details."
The dream will never die. Since Apple discontinued the Newton, Mac users have lamented that they havent been able to take a little piece of their favorite computing experience with them wherever they are, preferably in a shirt pocket, so its radiation is close to their hearts.
The iPod, a wonderfully functional device, brought the portable wow factor back to the Mac faithful. For all its sleek interface, "syncing" and pseudo-PIM features, though, at the end of the day its a passive playback device. Mac users are interactive. They buy 12-inch PowerBooks, not portable DVD players. So why wont Apple finally give in to the technolust of its users and produce a cell phone?