IPhone 3G: It's not world peace, but it's close

Apple faithful talk about their dreams, centered around a little smart phone

"When I saw the map of 70 countries that will have iPhone 3G, it made me really happy to see Madagascar on the map," Lee said in an interview. He said he supports several causes in that country, through friends working there with Help Madagascar, a charitable group, as well as Madagascar Fauna Group, an organization of zoos focused on saving lemurs and other wildlife.

"When they are available, I'm going to buy some iPhone 3Gs and send them to all my friends," he said. "I'm not sure how Madagascar has a 3G network, but it's great," he added. "Many parts of that country have no electricity. An iPhone for them would be great."

Lee sees poverty and loss of wildlife in Madagascar as a "really interesting engineering problem, and I've decided since I'm an engineer, I'm going to fix it."

Both he and Apple, apparently, have noticed that cellular service in Africa has enormous economic potential. "Cell service in Africa is a currency," Lee said. "It's like money over there."

Sam Levin, host of CoolMacPicks.com, and an online marketing adviser, said he can see some immediate economic benefits of iPhone 3G, especially since Apple plans to ship it to 70 or more countries this year.

"Just the gaming aspect alone will open up a lot of new revenue for a lot of people," Levin said. What will happen for even a small developer of education software, or another application, is that using AppStore will mean global distribution of an application almost instantly, Levin said.

Levin wanted more from Apple in the iPhone 3G announcement in terms of video capabilities and expansion of wireless Bluetooth beyond headset support to connect to other peripherals like a keyboard, but he was generally impressed.

"Apple advanced to GPS, which will have a big impact in the social medium, and it's great to see the iPhone at half the price," Levin added.

The iPhone 3G's combination of so many hardware and software features at US$199 combined with fast wireless networks globally had even Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney a bit dazzled for its capability as a change agent. "It has enormous potential," he said.

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