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20 things we don't know about the iPhone

Jobs unveils Apple's 'magical' new gadget, but can he make lingering doubts disappear?

By Mike Elgan
January 11, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Steve Jobs unveiled his breathtaking iPhone vision Tuesday, calling it a "magical" device that would "change the world" when it ships in June.

Jobs' use of the word magical hit the nail on the head. Jobs' keynote speeches are more than just speeches. They're magic shows.

A skilled magician makes you believe in magic. He makes you believe the magician has supernatural powers to, say, make people (or competitors) disappear. But there's no such thing as magic. The magician makes you believe by showing you one thing but keeping you in the dark about all the facts that might shatter the illusion.

Now, all this sounds negative so far, but I am in fact truly in awe of what I witnessed Tuesday. Steve Jobs is the Salesman of the Century -- nothing wrong with that. And Apple and Jobs have done everything right with the iPhone -- so far. I certainly want one, and am rooting for Apple to dominate and transform the handset industry.

However, I fear that the iPhone vision and the keynote were so flawlessly executed that Apple may have raised expectations that will be hard to fulfill. The things that might shatter this wonderful iPhone illusion are the things we do not know.

Here are 20 unanswered questions about the Apple iPhone:

1. How much will it cost to own an iPhone? We already know that the cheapest iPhone will be far more expensive than the most costly Cingular phone to date. But what will the monthly service cost be? What will the data plans cost? Will the Yahoo e-mail push option be extra?

2. What will be the "unlocked" iPhone price? Prices quoted by Jobs -- $599 for the 8GB model and $499 for the 4GB phone -- are the discounted prices that require a two-year Cingular contract. Will it even be possible to buy an iPhone without a wireless contract and without a specific wireless carrier?

3. How much will it cost to replace a lost or damaged iPhone? Let's say you shell out $600 for an iPhone, then two weeks later you drop and destroy it. How much will it cost to replace? $600? $1,200? More? When you buy a phone with a contract, you nearly always get a huge discount because you're signing up for the service. $150 phones are free. $200 are $50. The Pearl, for example, is $200 with the contract, but if you replace it, the replacement is $400, because you don't get a discount. How much will replacement insurance cost? Wireless carriers offer third-party insurance to cover this high replacement cost -- usually a few dollars per month added to your cell phone bill. Will the insurance for the iPhone cost $5 or $15 per month? We don't know. If it's $15 per month, for example, that adds $540 to the price of the phone over three years. Not trivial.

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