Happy New Year! We're off and running - Embedded.com

Happy New Year! We’re off and running

Apple debuts its iPhone and the buzz is intense. But can the product deliver on its promise?

It seems like every year we wind down through the holiday season only to be immediately surged back to business, thanks partly to the product rush of CES. This year, the surge comes from a source external to CES, but it's a consumer device nonetheless that's grabbing the headlines.

Apple is finally ready to debut its long-anticipated iPhone, although it won't hit the store shelves until June. I'll get to the bells and whistles of the iPhone in a second, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to hear Apple's CEO Steve Jobs make the comment that the iPhone is first and foremost a phone. In his words, “the killer app is making calls.”

Whether Apple can actually deliver on this promise is still to be seen. Note that this is something that the competitive MP3 player/phone combo units continue to struggle with. None of the competitors' units I've seen are good at both making calls and listening to music. Most are good at either one or the other (and some at neither). But like Jobs said (and now I'm paraphrasing), at the end of the day, it's a phone first and music player, Internet access device, and everything else second.

Back to the iPhone. If Apple can deliver on the product they're pitching, they really may have a winner. With 4 or 8 Gbytes of memory, the iPhone is well-enough equipped to handle my music needs. Although it's still difficult to do Web browsing on a small screen, it's getting better, most notably if you resign yourself to doing tasks that were meant for the small screen, like finding services, getting directions, and quick searches.

Although at $500 or $600 (depending on the memory), the iPhone is somewhat pricey, cost hasn't been a barrier for Apple before. As always, time will tell, and with a June rollout, there's plenty of time for speculation.

Richard Nass is editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design magazine. He can be reached at .

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