By Carl HoweThe iPhone Buzz index hit a new weekday high yesterday, reaching 8,170 stories with the word iPhone in them over 24 hours on Google News. That's up more than 500 stories from Tuesday. And the stories seem to have turned the tide -- Tuesday, the meme was all about how unlikely it was that the iPhone would be a success and what a high bar it would have to clear to be successful But yesterday, the reviews are in, and it's four thumbs-up from the major reviewers (although each has his own gripes too:
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal says that "...despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions." In his video review, he says that the iPhone "raises the bar for all other smartphones." David Pogue of the New York Times (my personal favorite. How can you not love a reviewer who used to be a Broadway musical rehearsal pianist?) says, "It’s fast, beautiful, menu-free, and dead simple to operate. You can’t get lost, because the solitary physical button below the screen always opens the Home page, arrayed with icons for the iPhone’s 16 functions." In his video review, Pogue says, "The Web functions make the Blackberry look like an amateur." Steven Levy of Newsweek says "...the bottom line is that the iPhone is a significant leap. It’s a superbly engineered, cleverly designed and imaginatively implemented approach to a problem that no one has cracked to date: merging a phone handset, an Internet navigator and a media player in a package where every component shines, and the features are welcoming rather than foreboding. The iPhone is the rare convergence device where things actually converge." Edward C. Baig of USA Today reports "...the iPhone is a breeze to set up and fun to use, evident from the moment you slide your finger across the screen to unlock it. It's a wonderful widescreen iPod and fabulous picture viewer. Smart sensors change the orientation of the display from portrait to landscape mode, based on how you hold the device and what you are doing at the time. Once you get the hang of its "multitouch" interface — give it a few days — you won't have to schlep a separate iPod and cellphone in your pocket."
Now anyone who has read down to here is starting to think that the press is starting to sound like movie critics raving about the latest box office smash. And you know what? That's exactly the type of phenomenon we are looking at. After all, the iPhone faces its "opening weekend" starting Friday, and we'll get our first assessment of public, not paid critic, reaction then. And just as in movies, my guess is that the public reaction will be even more positive than the critics.
My projection is that Apple (AAPL) will sell nearly 500,000 iPhones this weekend, made possible by its six months of preparation and months of production stockpiling. At an average price of $550, that will make this opening weekend worth about $275 million, far exceeding any movie opening, and in fact putting Apple on track to the largest consumer electronics launch ever as measured by dollars (more on that in a subsequent post). And why not? With reviews like this, the iPhone is already looking like a blockbuster.