Laura Ries is now on the record. She predicts that the iPhone will eventually flop after an initial surge:
I don't disagree with the prediction that initially Apple will sell quite a few iPhones. Steve Job's brilliant job with the PR and the media's love of convergence will make an iPhone a must have for some early adopters and elites.I've set an appointment on my calendar for July 2008 to assess Ries' prediction. Anyone want to go on record with a contrary prediction?
But shortly after the launch the initial hype will wear off and Steve will move on to the next project at Apple. Then the iPhone will end up in the convergence scrap heap along with the ROKR, N-Gage, WebTv and many others.
Initially convergence products, like line extensions get attention and generate early sales. But long term they usually fail and always undermine the brand.
Rather than looking at it as a phone with features and a better interface look at it as a computer that has diverged. Previous devices like Palm were divergent of calculators & organisers (more features like adding a phone). Windows mobile devices were divergent of mobile phones (more features like adding an organiser). The iPhone is divergent from a computer (less features catered for on the go).
Looking at it from that point of view I think it will be a raging success. For now, I believe it is a smart move to keep iPods and iPhones as two separate products that may have overlapping features.