This column was originally published on RealMoney on Jan. 11 at 9:40 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney, please click here .
The mobile-phone supply chain is a highly complex machine with countless moving parts, including phone makers, component suppliers, telecom carriers, government agencies and infinitely fickle consumers. Well, Apple ( AAPL) just blew the whole damn thing up with its new iPhone. In terms of style, the iPhone is the most impressive consumer electronics product I've seen in some time. With its big touch screen, innovative keyless interface, decent storage capabilities and OS X operating system, there is simply nothing like it on the market. I mean, just take a look at this thing. Plus, like many of Apple's products, it is a marvel of design dictated by common sense. It has a two-megapixel camera so users can take decent pictures, WiFi capabilities, four or eight gigabytes of storage and, unlike other phones with audio/video capabilities, a standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack so you don't have to buy some ridiculously expensive proprietary adapter. Plus, it features the ability to deactivate the screen when you bring the phone to your ear, to save on battery life and prevent you from unintentionally activating anything that may be on it at that time. I expected the phone to be something simpler, but from what I've seen, it handles its complexity fairly well and should in no way be overwhelming to the average user. If there is anything to complain about, it appears that the phone does not have 3G Internet capabilities. It isn't cheap at $499 or more for a two-year contract with Cingular, but that doesn't matter now because of the huge pent-up demand. Let's not forget, Palm ( PALM) has introduced past Treo smartphone models in the same price range, so it's not a stretch for Apple to do so, especially considering the rich feature set. The iPhone is a fantastic strategic move by Apple. When everyone targeted the original iPod and the iPod Mini, Apple killed them and put out the Nano and the video iPod. Then everyone targeted the Nano and the video iPod, and phonemakers such as Sony-Ericcson and LG cranked out music-enabled phones to benefit from the digital-music boom driven by Apple. So Apple drops the iPhone on them.