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The iPhone Is Actually Pretty Inexpensive

Most of the press about the iPhone talks about its high price. Even my iPhone review describes it as pricey. But if you actually think about all the things it can do, it's a bargain.

Most of the press about the iPhone talks about its high price. Even my iPhone review describes it as pricey. But if you actually think about all the things it can do, it's a bargain.

The iPhone does most of the things most of us expect a desktop PC to do. The iPhone is:

  • A Web appliance that can access most of the pages on the Web. I'm still amazed by that, after four days of using the iPhone; I'm used to devices like the Palm Treo that can barely access 5% of Web pages.

  • A music player.

  • A video player.

  • A device that shows you maps, driving directions, and a directory of nearby businesses such as restaurants and shops.

  • E-mail and SMS appliance.

  • And cameraphone.

The iPhone costs as much as a cheap PC: The high-end iPhone is $600.

Considering how much you get, the iPhone is cheap.

That is, it's cheap for a multi-function computer. In absolute terms, $600, plus a minimum $60 month in service charges, is a lot to pay for a device that is, for most people, a luxury. But as luxuries go, the price is pretty reasonable.

The iPhone is part of an emerging generation of cheap, truly portable PCs, all of which are a little bit controversial, including the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer, the Palm Foleo, and the Asus EEE.

The iPhone does have one gaping omission when considered as a fully-functional PC: It won't create or edit rich documents. You may be able to fill that gap by using the third-party Zoho Web office suite for the iPhone. I hope to try it out soon myself.

One other benefit to the iPhone: If you get one, people are impressed. And so are cats.