No wonder Starbucks was willing to hand out free coffee at the Apple Store Friday morning (to the less than ovewhelming crowd). Is the iPhone losing its buzz? Becoming just another shiny interface in a sea of smartphones?
The commotion at Apple Stores for the release of the iPhone 3G S wasn't as frenzied as past launches of the device. Engadget reported that at the flagship Fifth Avenue location in New York, "the whole line was able to be contained in the elevated portion to the right of the store, no sidewalk necessary."
In New York, at least, the rain may have literally dampened enthusiasm for sitting on the sidewalk all night to get first crack at the new and improved iPhone. Customers were also able to pre-order devices online. And it's not surprising that with each subsequent version, excitement will gradually subside.
But with the price cut of the existing iPhone 3G to $99, the device is likely to become more ubiquitous than ever. Its exclusivity could be furthered threatened by news today that the Federal Communications Commission plans to investigate exclusive deals between wireless carriers and handset makers, like ATT's agreement with Apple for the iPhone.
All that seems to undermine the carefully-cultivated cachet of Apple products via the savvy marketing and tight control the company is legendary for. Becoming a commodity is a cardinal sin. The trick for Apple is to keep coming out with faster, cooler iterations of the iPhone, or other devices, like a rumored tablet, even as its line of handhand offerings continues to expand. That exclusivity-for-the-masses balance isn't easy to maintain. Just ask Starbucks.