Steve Jobs Helps Me Find My Way

met via teleconference

The rest of the discussion centered on accounting treatment.

Fast forward to last night, when update 1.1.3 became available to many iPhone users. It was a longer upgrade process than usual (an XP-based notebook had to download new iTunes software, install it, reboot and then install the iPhone software, and then wait for the phone to reboot.) But when it was over, the iPhone transformed into a real-time, location-mapping device. Using its Google Maps feature, the iPhone triangulates your nearest cell phone towers and reports the data back to the mapping application, which gives you an idea, generally, of where you are. No, the iPhone is not suddenly a Garmin Nuvi (and the Garmin folks really have nothing to worry about.)

In real-time testing, the iPhone's new mapping feature once triangulated its location to within two miles of where it really was; on a second try this morning from 40 miles down the road (closer to New York City), it came within about 200 feet of full accuracy. For the FedEx guy or the pizza delivery kid, that's not good enough. But in a lot of situations it is. And Apple's triangulation method could very well use less battery life than many GPS devices integrated into other smart phones. And millions of iPhone faithful now have that functionality without paying an extra dime.

The point of this isn't that Apple is now competing in the GPS space. It's that the company is making good on Oppenheimer's promise of adding solid, new iPhone functionality, at no additional cost to buyers, every few months. And a software developer's kit that third parties can use for more iPhone apps is on the way. In taking this route, Apple is making the iPhone like a vintage automobile: it's becoming more valuable over time. Just like Apple, itself, is becoming more valuable over time.

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So Steve Jobs' stewardship of the iPhone's continued development could lead to fewer people getting lost. And, with an economy that is making many skittish, it may be worth listening to Oppenheimer's next conversation with analysts to see how that continued investment is paying off.