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If you're like me, you're wondering whether Roger McNamee, a co-founder of Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) sugar daddy Elevation Partners, was tuned in yesterday when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) previewed version 3.0 of its iPhone operating system software.
McNamee, you may remember, predicted doom for the iPhone in an interview with Bloomberg News two weeks ago. "You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone ... Not one of these people will still be using an iPhone a month later." [Emphasis added.]
I swear it sounds like something from an SNL skit. Mr. Over-Dramatize-Everything, the guy who ends every sentence with an exclamation point. Let Andy Samberg play the role.
Open mouth, insert whole body
Palm has since backed off from McNamee's prediction, like a wounded dog that had taken too many beatings and was about to receive another. Quoting from an SEC filing intended to (ahem) "clarify" McNamee's comments:
The statement in the second paragraph of the article that "not one" person who bought an Apple, Inc. iPhone on the first shipment date "will still be using an iPhone a month" after the two-year anniversary of that day is an exaggerated prediction of consumer behavior pattern and is withdrawn.
Smart. The iPhone's new features should be enough to hold their own against Palm's Pre and new handsets from Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android partners. Let's review.
Apple is making its Spotlight search technology available to iPhone users, so that anything stored within can be found with a simple text query. Think of it as Google for your phone -- an important tool if, as the iEmpire intends, you view your iPhone as a portable computing platform.
As much of a success as the App Store has been -- Apple says that there have been more than 800 million downloads to date -- it has resembled an all-or-nothing buffet: Buy, use, move on. That's changing in version 3.0. Apple is adding support for in-application micropayments, allowing game and other developers to charge more for accessing additional functions. The takeaway? Developers have more incentive to create rich software for the iPhone.
The big dog of feature additions. Apple has created a programming interface -- one of 1,000, News.com reports -- that will allow users to copy text, photos, and SMS messages and paste them into different applications. Think of each saved keystroke as an opportunity to make the iPhone experience more enjoyable, and draw in more users.
Other features include point-to-point connections between iPhones via Bluetooth for multiplayer gaming, increased access to global positioning data, and multimedia text messaging. (Still no video support, however.)
OK, you can take your elbow out ...
So the new iPhone looks like it'll be more functional and friendlier to developers, which could discourage them from devoting development time to alternative platforms such as Palm's webOS.
Yet McNamee may still have a point. His comments weren't just aimed at the iPhone, but also its network partner, AT&T (NYSE: T ) . Quoting from his Bloomberg TV appearance:
It's not that AT&T's a lousy network provider; it's that their stuff is just -- it's new, and it's going to take a few years to get the kinks out. It doesn't matter whether you're using an iPhone or any other 3G device on the AT&T network. It's just less stable.
Even so, a common refrain from my iPhone-wielding friends and you, our readers, is that while the iPhone itself is wonderful, Ma Bell's network service is awful. Earlier trouble with dropped calls likely contributes to the malaise.
Still ... Not one iPhone early adopter will renew, Mr. McNamee? You know better. So do the rest of us. We've seen what iPhone 3.0 can do.