Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment
The first iPhone arrived at a time that suggested Apple needed to protect its iPod franchise -- but Apple delivered something that was much more than an MP3 player that could make phone calls. You probably won't be editing any iMovies on it for some time, but in the iPhone Apple has essentially delivered Macintosh 2.0. It's portable. It's affordable. It's connected. And it runs OS X, complete with its own breakthrough pointing device, your finger. Whereas the first Mac came with productivity applications MacWrite and MacPaint, the iPhone came with applications for Web surfing, e-mail, and consuming media, the evolution of what much personal computing has become.
Furthermore, Apple has shown that it has learned from mistakes it made with the first Mac. Whereas early monochrome Macs were a tough sell for game developers, Apple has highlighted games as some of the most impressive early third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. And whereas Apple was notorious for keeping Mac prices high for many years, the next-generation iPhone takes advantage of carrier subsidies for an out-of-pocket price of $200 in the US (and even less or free in some countries). Despite the many changes that have transformed the software industry since 1984, the iPhone, along with its SDK, development tools and app store, have the potential to bring the work of OS X developers to millions of people who don't own Macs -- that is, if Apple lets them.