Arriving June 19 on AT&T's cellular network, Apple's iPhone 3G S (short for "speed") is guaranteed to turn heads. Thank the handset's sharper 3MP digital camera, enhanced 7.2Mbps high-speed wireless connectivity and new voice-controlled dialing and music playback functions. But as entrepreneurs will soon realize, the 16GB ($199) or 32GB ($299) device, also boasting snazzier 3-D visuals and a digital compass, isn't just a high-tech toy. Capable of faster website and application loading, recording videos (a feature previously limited to "jailbroken" or hacked units) and eventually serving as a travel-ready modem, the iPhone can also double as a portable command center for your business.
At the simplest level, promising around five hours of online connectivity and talk time at 3G speeds, or nine hours of Wi-Fi usage, consider it an omnipresent mobile communications hub and internet access point. Checking e-mail, retrieving on-demand downloadable applications and browsing the news online using a more fingerprint-resistant multi-touch screen is a snap. Everything now loads up to two times faster according to the manufacturer as well, instantly boosting productivity and making it easier than ever to connect with the home office or source breaking news and market updates. Harried executives should also appreciate the iPhone's voice recording capability, a boon when taking dictation or jotting down meeting minutes.
What's more, the new iPhone 3.0 operating system further introduces horizontal "landscape view" keyboard options, MMS multimedia messaging (coming late summer) and cut/copy/paste features for working with text and photos. Preloaded on the handset, it's also available to current-gen iPhone owners, and also adds welcome features like push notifications and peer-to-peer connectivity for, say, exchanging virtual business cards. Likewise, the ability to access GPS capabilities or purchase new items from within existing applications proves an intriguing extra. Savvy entrepreneurs could use these features to offer consumers turn-by-turn directions to specific retail locations offering special promotions, or provide potential customers discount hands-on software trials with the option to unlock premium upgrades at a later date.
Likewise, working in conjunction with the device's aforementioned built-in GPS, the new digital compass automatically reorients the display in Google Maps to the direction you're facing. As such, there's no excuse for being lost or late to a crucial lunch meeting or on-site presentation again. Zoom features mean you won't have to squint while sprinting between appointments as well, with the unit's ability to read highlighted on-screen text out loud also a welcome aide. Though currently unavailable in the U.S., the option to tether the device, or connect it to a laptop via Bluetooth or USB connection for use as a high-speed modem, may soon prove a game-changer too. With the iPhone 3G S on-hand, sales or support staff throughout the nation could, theoretically at least, file up-to-the-minute reports or access online applications as needed, regardless of whether there's a Wi-Fi hotspot handy.
The integrated camera (capable of auto-focusing) and video recording features (footage can also be edited on the fly) also hold the promise of changing how entrepreneurs interface with social media. Using the iPhone 3G S, it's theoretically possible to cram sites like Facebook and Flickr with behind-the-scenes photos of co-workers and project milestones, building consumer empathy in the process. Or, along the same lines, using video recording features to provide daily content updates for your firm's website, driving increased traffic, or create a YouTube-friendly marketing piece in the form of a running film diary. With potential social networking applications extending from creating your own podcasts at whim to downloading third-party programs letting you monitor real-time buzz about your brand on Twitter, the sky's the limit.
Larger businesses may still be put off by a lack of high-end enterprise options, and existing customers bemoan the lack of price break offered without a costly contract extension. Nonetheless, for any entrepreneur seeking a flexible solution that splits the difference between PDA, multimedia hub and online hotspot, the iPhone 3G S could be worth keeping on speed dial.