Anything that happened in the world of IT this week that wasn't related to the iPhone could have happened on another planet. The run-up to the commercial release of this totemic object of desire left the tech press in one quivering mass of anticipation, from blogs to the mainstream. Steve Jobs has once more masterfully orchestrated a Media Event; only time will reveal whether he has created a blockbuster product.
For those who don't have an RSS feed of iPhone news on IV drip, here's a look at the top stories this week.
1. Cue the Queue
As of Friday morning, the "gotta-have-its" formed lines at Apple stores in New York but were only a few hundred strong, Reuters reported. Devotees who had arrived earlier as reported in InfoWorld were led by a distinctive everyman of the modern media event, Greg Packer—famous for providing "man on the street" quotes on diverse topics for the past several years.
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There are a few clouds in the sky of the saturation media coverage. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal noted 11th-hour anxieties over Apple's service-provider partner in the iPhone release, AT&T. The carrier's EDGE wireless network may not show the new phone's online capabilities in their best light; Apple seems to be hoping that customers will connect via Wi-Fi hotspots to get better performance.
3. The Anointed Few Weigh In With Reviews
There's a bit of crankiness in the blogosphere about just who got the few devices Apple made available for review. Here's a roundup from Crunchgear on the first looks from Walt Mossberg, David Pogue, Edward Baig and Steven Levy. In fact, Levy was victim of the first attempted iPhone mugging, reports blog Valleywag. Apparently he was jumped while appearing live on Fox News; his assailant was apprehended.
4. The Messianic Comes into Play, Again
In the meantime, thanks to a hype-prone medioblogracy, the nickname "Jesus phone" had appeared in more than 100 news stories by Friday, scoring for Jobs a viral brand tie-in with someone whose Q Score is probably dangerously higher than the CEO's own. Rocco Palmo runs with the religious metaphor on bustedhalo.com: "June 29th marks the feast day dedicated to the founders of the church of Rome: Saints Peter and Paul. The observance is an ancient one, but this year it coincides with a religious festival of a more modern sort. For the believers of this other faith, it's the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they'll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they've long lusted and defended against all naysayers, sight unseen." More alarmingly, he notes a Vatican-Apple tie-in that could feed conspiracy theorists for years to come, reporting that the "Vatican webmistress" had recently disclosed a Mac conversion.
5. But is it environmentally friendly?
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that an avalanche of e-waste could follow the iPhone. Greenpeace itself has tossed the gauntlet at Apple in a posting on its website that asks, "How green is that iPhone?"
6. Business is Skeptical
While Apple signaled its intent to invade the BlackBerry market of corporate users, some reports found IS departments saying, in essence, "not so fast." If the iPhone becomes a corporate status symbol and the top executives want it, though, technology managers will have no choice but to make it work with e-mail systems and security structures.
7. And BlackBerry is Ready With a Curve
Clearly Research In Motion won't sit passively by as its turf is encroached upon. It recently introduced the Curve, which also uses AT&T service, and was well-received by the business press. RIM shareholders didn't seem fazed as Apple got ready to open stores at 6 p.m. Friday; RIM shares were up in trading on the day, with a 73 percent first-quarter sales increase bolstering confidence. Do you really need one? Businessweek isn't convinced.
8. Can It Live Up to the Hype?
The New York Times looked at the anxieties besetting Apple—and Jobs—as the device neared launch. Meanwhile, Gartner's Mike McGuire pointed out the double-edged sword that is hype in overdrive: "The blessing is you've created an amazing amount of demand. The curse is you have a very high level of expectations to meet. ... If there's a misstep, there will be a lot of gloating people in the industry."
9. It's the iPhone Aftermarket!
The San Jose Mercury News reports that the iPhone is already "unleashing a cottage industry of touch-screen protectors, leather hip carriers and car adapters." Take care that they fit, though—apparently Apple's unwillingness to share specs made it that much more challenging to design add-on gear.
10. How Do You Get One?
Before you go buy one, check out the odds of getting trampled at the store on launch day—or the odds that your new iPhone will spontaneously combust. If you're still up for it, catch this plain-speaking AT&T store manager explaining the launch-day protocol.