STATE OF THE ART
By DAVID POGUE
Remember the fairy godmother in "Cinderella"? She'd wave her wand and
turn some homely and utilitarian object, like a pumpkin or a mouse,
into something glamorous and amazing, like a carriage or fully
Evidently, she lives in some back room at Apple.
Every time Steve Jobs spies some hopelessly ugly, complex machine
that cries out for the Apple touch -- computers, say, or music players
-- he lets her out.
At the annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Mr. Jobs demonstrated
the latest result of godmother wand-waving. He granted the wishes of
millions of Apple followers and rumormongers by turning the ordinary
cellphone into ... the iPhone.
At the moment, the iPhone is in an advanced prototype stage, which I
was allowed to play with for only an hour; the finished product won't
be available in the United States until June, or in Europe until the
fourth quarter. So this column is a preview, not a review.
Already, though, one thing is clear: the name iPhone may be doing
Apple a disservice. This machine is so packed with possibilities that
the cellphone may actually be the least interesting part.
As Mr. Jobs pointed out in his keynote presentation, the iPhone is at
least three products merged into one: a phone, a wide-screen iPod and
a wireless, touch-screen Internet communicator. That helps to explain
its price: $499 or $599 (with four or eight gigabytes of storage).
As you'd expect of Apple, the iPhone is gorgeous. Its face is shiny
black, rimmed by mirror-finish stainless steel. The back is textured
aluminum, interrupted only by the lens of a two-megapixel camera and a
mirrored Apple logo. The phone is slightly taller and wider than a
Palm Treo, but much thinner (4.5 by 2.4 by 0.46 inches).
You won't complain about too many buttons on this phone; it comes very
close to having none at all. The front is dominated by a touch screen
(320 by 480 pixels) operated by finger alone. The only physical
buttons, in fact, are volume up/down, ringer on/off (hurrah!),
sleep/wake and, beneath the screen, a Home button.
The iPhone's beauty alone would be enough to prompt certain members of
the iPod cult to dig for their credit cards. But its Mac OS X-based
software makes it not so much a smartphone as something out of