It’s true, rumors of the long-awaited Applephone (that took me a couple tries — I kept typing “iPhone”) are at a fever pitch. Not that it’s necessarily a barometer, but Mac fanboy haven Digg has seen no less than 39 “iPhone” related articles hit the front page of its tech section this month. The questions people ask me more than any other: When is the iPhone Applephone coming out? and What do you know about it? But why all the fuss? Well, there are a few reasons why there’s such a pent-up demand for an Apple cellphone:

  1. Cellphones today suck. Especially smartphones. It’s 2006 and a good phone — and I mean an honestly really good phone — still hasn’t been made. A new competitor — any new competitor, be it ALP or Linux or the Applephone — is highly anticipated.
  2. People are already sick of Windows Mobile dominating the landscape. I’ve been a long time Windows Mobile user, but let’s face it, it’s pretty much the only smartphone game in town in the US. You can go Symbian, but the devices just aren’t there through carrier purchases. Palm is obviously a joke, and Linux / JUIX is nowhere to be found.
  3. Cellphones haven’t gotten music integration right. Sure, there are enough phones with media buttons and microSD slots to go around, but that doesn’t mean they work well.
  4. Using your phone and your Mac is often a painful and tedious experience. In fact, the same goes for using your phone and most any computer.
  5. People are curious to see how radically the cellphone can be re-envisioned, and they expect Apple to lead that charge.

Now let’s square that off against the realities about the Applephone that people probably don’t want to face.

  1. The battery life will probably be pretty awful. And if it’s going to be a small phone, battery life will be even worse. Even phones with massive 1000mAh+ batteries drain off fast when playing media. A two battery design isn’t going to change anything software battery partitioning couldn’t solve. Unless Apple is waiting to announce a major advancement in battery tech, that is just the way things are.
  2. The phone will be buggy. Anyone ever use the first few releases of OS X? It took Apple years — specifically until about 10.3 — to get it right, and it’s taken Microsoft a good five years to get Windows Mobile to a state decent enough to be mass-market. Remember, this would be the first cellphone from a company that’s never made a phone before. Do you really think it would be perfect?
  3. It won’t be what people want. People want a QWERTY slider flip phone with a numeric keypad, 3G, GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 and A2DP, a mini USB slot, 3.5mm stereo jack, and 3 megapixel digital camera (with flash). In other words, when a new product is merely rumored about, it takes a polymorphous shape. It won’t be everything — we should all know this by now that Apple’s design philosophy isn’t found in what they include, it’s in what they omit. The iPhone will undoubtedly be, comparatively speaking, under-featured.
  4. It probably won’t have 3G. At least not at first. I don’t think the US carriers are ready for what Apple wants to do with this phone. If it does have 3G, it’ll probably be sold through Apple — not through a carrier — meaning you’ll have to pay the full $500 for a first gen Applephone.
  5. It’s safe to assume it won’t work with Windows out of the box. At least not fully. It’ll probably sync with iTunes, but getting your Outlook contacts on board probably won’t come until later (or will only happen via third party apps).
  6. It won’t be revolutionary. If anything, it’ll be a well designed, well thought-out phone — which is, I suppose, revolutionary considering the market. But only because no one else is really pushing the envelope. From a device standpoint it will be fairly conventional in form-factor, shape, size, etc.

I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, believe me. But I’ve seen enough product launches — especially Apple ones — to know hype very rarely intersects with reality. Then again, it’s only a rumored product, right? Who knows, maybe Apple will really surprise us, and never actually even release a cellphone. THAT would be interesting.