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  • Why Can’t I Shut Up About the iPhone?

    June 27th, 2007

    All right, I have said in these pages and on the radio show that I’m not really interested in buying an iPhone right away, that an ordinary mobile phone works fine for me. Yet, the iPhone feeding frenzy makes it near-impossible not to talk about it. Even Paris Hilton must feel jealous at all the press Apple is getting!

    Just looking at the marketing campaign, you have to envy the masterful approach. Apple didn’t inundate the media with paid ads anticipating its arrival. The ads that were placed were mostly low-key. Just just show the phone and a few of its flashy features, and the tech press did the rest.

    Why is so much attention focused on a wireless phone?

    This can, I suppose, become fodder for college-level marketing classes, but I think the answer might be a whole lot simpler. Despite all the tens of billions of dollars the wireless providers have invested in their systems all these years, service still sucks. Indeed, the most severe criticisms leveled in the early reviews of the iPhone have focused, laser-like, on its weakest link, which is the quality of the AT&T network. Certainly, readers of Consumer Reports will recall that the company formerly known as Cingular rates at or near the bottom when it comes to audio quality, network reliability and customer service.

    Forgetting the brilliantly-designed touch screen and all the rest, it appears that the quality of calls is strictly average, no better than the phones that AT&T gives you free in exchange for signing up to ones of its plans. Is that Apple’s fault, or AT&T? Well, it doesn’t really matter, although the latter runs the network, so you can blame them for such shortcomings. Even if Apple is using the very best audio chips in the industry, that’s something they cannot overcome.

    However, making and receiving phone calls ranks extremely low as a reason for having an iPhone. The reason all the other wireless carriers and mobile phone makers are having fits about the iPhone is that Apple has exposed their other most serious weakness in a single product, and that’s the user interface.

    It’s not that the iPhone does more things than other so-called “smart” phones, just as the original Macintosh didn’t necessarily do more things than its predecessors. In both cases, Apple took existing technologies and weaved them into an innovative user interface that is at once revolutionary as it is disruptive.

    By and large, today’s mobile phones are stuck in the dark ages, with incredibly complicated navigation screens that bury even simple functions within numerous arcane dialogs, where you have to do ten things to accomplish one task.

    A lot of that is dictated by the wireless carriers, of course. Take Verizon Wireless. I’ve been a customer of theirs for several years, largely because they have a good network, and call quality is reasonably tolerable. Customer service is even adequate, which is saying a lot in that business, unfortunately.

    The problem is that Verizon dictates a consistently awful navigation system among all or most of its products. If it worked well, it would mean that getting used to one phone would pretty much acquaint you with the settings options of the next, give or take a few features. But you are confronted with the interface from hell, no doubt inspired by the worst characteristics of Microsoft Windows. Such similar-sounding labels as “Call Settings” and “Phone Settings” are guaranteed to force you to check both to locate the singular configuration panel that may fit into either category.

    Now we all know that Verizon turned down a chance to add the iPhone to its lineup early on. No doubt one reason is that Steve Jobs clearly demanded that nobody tamper with the iPhone’s look and feel. Nothing in the iPhone could possibly have been influenced by AT&T, which, until now, was just another mediocre carrier existing in a universe of mediocre carriers.

    Indeed, Apple will apparently service the phones itself if they require repair. The standard mobile phone warranty coverage isn’t even available for the iPhone. Instead, you have to rely on Apple’s own guarantee.

    How will all this turn out? Well, despite its flaws, the iPhone will evidently be a smash hit! Consider that dude who has been suffering the hot New York City sunshine to be the first in line an Apple Store to acquire his very own iPhone. Like the iPod before it, the iPhone will be a cultural phenomenon, and you will see lots and lots of imitators early in.

    In the meantime, AT&T’s competition is already rehearsing their talking points about why the iPhone really isn’t a good thing. But few will care. Have I said enough now?



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    12 Responses to “Why Can’t I Shut Up About the iPhone?”

    1. zack vigneron says:

      i think you covered it all! you just forgot one thing, $500*1,000,000 buyers =

      http://www.huckstr.com/spoofs/apple-money-machine.html

    2. i think you covered it all! you just forgot one thing, $500*1,000,000 buyers =

      http://www.huckstr.com/spoofs/apple-money-machine.html

      At the beginning only. Jobs is talking about ten million buyers as of the end of 2008, and the analysts are suggesting it may be far more 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Terry says:

      AT&T is the dealbreaker for me. Signal quality in my area is abysmal. Promises to upgrade in our are have been long forgotten.

    4. Malcolm says:

      Yet one more individual’s take: I am salivating for an iPhone save for the price. As soon as there is an iteration in a year or two which breaks below $300 I will be on board. I think I can hold out…maybe… I just hope I can diminish this darn drooling problem at the mention of an iPhone. Possibly the techno-lust will abate when the media hype subsides? 😛

    5. demiphonic says:

      I don’t live in the US OR have AT&T in my country… & I sooooooo ENVY y’all 🙁

      Sad the AT&T network is only 2.5G …large files etc may be a problem… but as was said the interface alone will be so much fun to use, most people will forget the iPhone’s short comings :p

      I can’t believe “Verizon turned down a chance to add the iPhone to its lineup” OMG …are they nuts? & worse.. it’s possible they may have wanted to “tamper with the iPhone’s look and feel.” – so the ARE crazy! Apple’s industrial design & software interfaces are a thing of Beauty! Who is Verizon to want to change that?

      I’m sure they are wishing that could change their mind now 😀 LOL

    6. Terrin says:

      There is no way Apple was really going to do a deal with Verizon. Apple was just using Verizon as bargaining leverage to get a better deal from ATT. As Apple said, ATT worldwide has the biggest network. APple want that.

      Moreover, if Apple had included 3G support, it is possible that it couldn’t ship the phone into the country right now, as the patent rights are being litigated.

    7. geniver says:

      I mentioned The Mac Nightowl in my blog today. I also describe REAL ways to save money on an iPhone. Please take a look: http://speculational.blogspot.com

    8. Tero says:

      I read in a review that it takes six steps on the iPhone to make a phone call. Obviously, not a phone for me!

      Also, its messaging and email capabilities are sub par, as is the web browser that doesn’t support even Java. It is a sad imitation of Nokia S60 browser. Why would any one replace an existing smartphone they have–one, for example, with a 5 MPx camera, DVD quality video capture, GPS, HSDPA data link etc.–with this one?

      Sure, it’s 1.0. But I’d have expected something a tad more revolutionary from Apple. For that price.

      Can Apple afford to lose the potential future customers (for a REAL multimedia smartphone) who now get disappointed with the first, super expensive iPhone, and will not return?

    9. Terrin says:

      I really do not see how Safari can be a sad implementation of Nokia’s browser when Nokia relied on Apple’s web core to make it’s browser. If anything, Nokia’s browser is a good or better implementation of Safari (which I doubt). Nokia’s browser doesn’t give you a website as you see it on the web, but rearranges it. I guess that is a preference thing. However, it also does not give you Java, which I suspect will find its way to the iPhone version of Safari soon, as it is already supported on the Mac and Windows version of Safari.

      See:
      http://www.osnews.com/story.php/12965/An-Overview-of-Nokias-KHTMLWebCore-based-S60-Browser/

      Moreover, the same review where you pulled the six step information from claimed web browsing was Safari’s strong point and that no other cell phone matched this expereince. It also claimed the iPhone’s email support was robust.

      Myself, I haven’t tried an iPhone yet, so I won’t comment on things I haven’t experienced yet. Maybe you shouldn’t either.

      I read in a review that it takes six steps on the iPhone to make a phone call. Obviously, not a phone for me!

      Also, its messaging and email capabilities are sub par, as is the web browser that doesn’t support even Java. It is a sad imitation of Nokia S60 browser. Why would any one replace an existing smartphone they have–one, for example, with a 5 MPx camera, DVD quality video capture, GPS, HSDPA data link etc.–with this one?

      Sure, it’s 1.0. But I’d have expected something a tad more revolutionary from Apple. For that price.

      Can Apple afford to lose the potential future customers (for a REAL multimedia smartphone) who now get disappointed with the first, super expensive iPhone, and will not return?

    10. Adam says:

      Probably because you can never shut up about anything….

    11. Probably because you can never shut up about anything….

      Yes, that’s why I’m here. And you?

      Peace,
      Gene

    12. Gslusher says:

      I read in a review that it takes six steps on the iPhone to make a phone call. Obviously, not a phone for me!

      Also, its messaging and email capabilities are sub par, as is the web browser that doesn’t support even Java. It is a sad imitation of Nokia S60 browser. Why would any one replace an existing smartphone they have–one, for example, with a 5 MPx camera, DVD quality video capture, GPS, HSDPA data link etc.–with this one?

      Sure, it’s 1.0. But I’d have expected something a tad more revolutionary from Apple. For that price.

      Can Apple afford to lose the potential future customers (for a REAL multimedia smartphone) who now get disappointed with the first, super expensive iPhone, and will not return?

      My simple Samsung flip-phone takes four steps, assuming that I have the contact listed:

      1. Push contacts button
      2. Scroll through contacts, one at a time (could be 20 steps)
      3. Select contact to call.
      4. Push Send button

      For what it’s worth, the review was wrong. Here are the steps:

      1. Touch the phone icon. Contacts automatically comes up by default.
      2. Scroll through the contacts.
      3. Tap on the contact you want.
      4. Tap on the number to make the call.

      That’s FOUR steps, not six. I do NOT count using the sleep/wake button anymore than I count flipping open my Samsung phone.

      If you want to call someone on the Favorites or Recents list:
      1. Touch the phone icon.
      2. Tap the Favorites or Recents icon.
      3. Tap the name to call the number.

      Thats THREE steps.

      To use the keypad:
      1. Touch the phone icon.
      2. Tap the keyboard icon.
      3. Tap in the number.

      Don’t compare this to a simple phone but to a Treo or BlackBerry. They take at least as many steps, often more.

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