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Sunday, January 14, 2007

iPhone and The Who - Substitute?

"The Who," a British classic rock group, had a song called "Subsitute" that poked fun of them being a "substitute" for the Rolling Stones. In this case, the word meant a similar item and yet still a place-holder for the real deal.
An almost, and yet never quite.

In the song, it was about people in relationships substituting one another for the real thing. Pete Townshend blares:

"You think we look pretty good together. You think my shoes are made of leather. But I'm a substitute for another guy. I look pretty tall but my heels are high. The simple things you see are all complicated. I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated, yeah."

With the entry of the iPhone into the big wide world, I'm wondering how will this phone slash music player slash other apple-ish computing device merge impact the way we listen and enjoy music and other joys like movies?

Is it going to be the real deal or will it be a substitute (a placeholder for Apple's next big secret surprise perhaps), as Townshend sang long ago?

Will the iPhone replace, as with most phones moving towards rivaling digital music players (iPods, Zunes, among others) for supreme playback? In the same way that CD's seemed to move in a not-so-distant memory with the advent of more portable ways to enjoy our music, videos and personal memories (as well as the more functional items like keeping grocery lists, finding our way in another city or calling a friend ahead at lunch that you're running late)?

It's being launched in the U.S. and looks wonderful in its simplicity, at what would be viewed as atronomical costs by those at the other end of the wealth spectrum.

Wondering now how does this launch translate to conquering the developing world's need for communication? How will it measure up against easy-going IPR laws and Chinese ability to mimic and mass-produce to be found in the underground economy sometime towards the end of the year?

In the end, although The Who even has a musical after its music as testament to its staying power, the winner in the longevity and relevance category was definitely affirmed by a recent tour of The Rolling Stones--maybe longevity is the clue to the real deal in the world of great ideas.

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