KAI RYSSDAL: One of the world's iconic computer companies officially isn't a computer company anymore — at least, not entirely. Apple Computer has changed its name to just Apple. Maybe that's because they make phones now, too. CEO Steve Jobs made the not entirely surprising announcement today at the company's annual trade show. Lisa Napoli covers all things Apple for us. Hi Lisa.
LISA NAPOLI: Hello.
RYSSDAL: Here we are: $499, wiz-bang new phone from Steve Jobs and company.
NAPOLI: And very, very sexy looking.
RYSSDAL: Very sexy. It is cool looking, I mean you have to give them that. As Apple does, they made this nifty looking gadget.
NAPOLI: They've got the sexy/cool factor down big time.
RYSSDAL: Let's talk about what it is.
NAPOLI: OK, let's talk about what it is: It's a phone. It's a camera. It's a PDA. It's Wi-Fi — I'm sure I'm leaving something — oh, it's a video iPod! Web browsing. It does everything you'd want it to do, practically, in a portable, mobile device.
RYSSDAL: Do you think it's gonna do it better than the Blackberry and the Treo, and all those things that don't do everything that Steve Jobs says this gizmo can do?
NAPOLI: Sure, and Steve Jobs says this is a revolution, that the sound quality's great, the battery life is great. We'll see in June when it ships if it is as great as they say it is. But the idea that they actually managed to pull this off . . . Now, it's taken a couple of years. Everybody's been waiting for this for a couple of years — finally it's out. The idea that they pulled if off, and they pulled it off in such a beautiful package and they answered all the questions that people have about these things — that's a big deal.
RYSSDAL: Couple of things, though. As fantabulous as Apple clearly seems to be, they couldn't do this all by themselves. They're getting mail support from Yahoo, they're getting the phone service from Cingular. It's not a one-stop shop.
NAPOLI: Right. The thing is that getting into the phone business isn't easy. Getting into any device business, of course, isn't easy. But you can't just go, "Hey, we want to be in the phone business." They made a foray into this a couple years ago — they had an ill-fated kind of marriage with Cingular. Now they're doing it the right way. Will everybody want — I can see it on your face, you're gonna ask me — whose gonna drop, who . . . are you gonna pay 175 bucks to drop your current phone provider to spend 5 or 600 bucks on an iPod phone that'll come down the pike in a couple of months and we'll see how it actually works.
RYSSDAL: As much as, though, the geeks need this thing, Apple arguably needs it even more. IPod sales, while ripping right along, have been slowing. Apple needs the next big thing. And if this isn't it, they're in some serious trouble.
NAPOLI: Yeah. But, I find it so hard to believe this isn't it — and if this isn't it, you've got the other announcement that he made that's gonna get obscured by everybody like us talking about the phone today which is this Apple TV thing.
RYSSDAL: Tell us about it.
NAPOLI:. . . which allows you to take what you've got stored on your iPod and project it, in essence, on your television. And that, you know, you thought Tivo was cool, and you thought the idea of being able to take your video service, your cable service, anywhere you go, you thought that was cool — that is cool, too — but this is far, far a. cooler looking, and b. even more practical. So. . . .
RYSSDAL: So that's your take away from this is that the phone is nice but the TV thing is bigger?
NAPOLI: Mmmm, I'm not so sure yet, I think they're both pretty big. My take away on this is that the biggest thing that happened today is Apple is changing its name. They're dropping "computer" from their name. This solidifies that this is the year of the phone. Of the PC moving portably. Apple is not just a desktop business anymore — they're getting their hands in all the different things that all those guys over at CES were hoping to find a way to do, have been trying find a way to do for years. And they're doing it in a way that's fun.
RYSSDAL: Alright, Lisa Napoli. Thank you, Lisa.
NAPOLI: Thank you.