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IPhone 3G: It's not world peace, but it's close

Apple faithful talk about their dreams, centered around a little smart phone

June 10, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - SAN FRANCISCO -- If you've seen the bumper stickers that say "Visualize whirled peas" as a play on the slogan "Visualize world peace," you get an idea of what is happening at Apple Inc.'s Worldwide Developers Conference this week.

About 5,000 developers, the largest assembly ever for WWDC, are meeting here to learn about Apple Inc. technology, especially the iPhone 3G, which is coming July 11.

They hope to find out what iPhone 3G can mean to their new applications for gaming or for sharing critical information useful to doctors, engineers or just about anybody.

The whole event is stimulating, some developers said, as they crammed into bathrooms on breaks and lined up for coffee. But primarily it is inspirational, in the way technology can often inspire, and with a lot of wackiness and fun built in.

The developers and IT managers who will be using the iPhone 3G speak in grand terms about how a really good phone, combined with a great computer that runs on a really fast wireless network could, yes, change the world.

"It's not world peace, but it's a start," said one developer, who didn't want to give his name. He had a smile and glistening eyes as he spoke of the iPhone 3G. In its early stages, the iPhone 3G, as announced, is perhaps more like whirled peas than world peace, but the developers hope it turns into something more.

In several interviews, they talked about how technology as good as the iPhone 3G could influence conventional economic systems, making it a truly disruptive technology. Several developers said it could be as important as a $100 laptop in the hands of a poor child, and with the iPhones priced at $199, it gets close to that.

It could also be the first phone/computer for people in some regions of countries such as India or China, or even parts of the rural U.S., where a traditional communications infrastructure, built on wires, never fully materialized, they said.

The hope of many wireless technologies has long been to leapfrog the wired world, but a smart phone with rich capabilities like the iPhone 3G's can bring that dream closer to reality, they said.

If they sound like dreamers, the Apple developers admit they are, but that is why many said they became developers in the first place.

"Look at how India and China have skipped a generation of infrastructure and have gone to wireless. One of the reasons that I liked the iPhone early on was the idea of changing business processes, where you're not tied to the notion of having an office where the old-fashioned command-and-control approach applies," said Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia.

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