January 10, 2007


With the iPhone launch, Steve Jobs has managed to do what game console companies have done for years; launch the device without having to let anyone use it. I used to think it would be a pretty neat trick to be able to do that on the Web ... and then Gmail did it when they first went out to employees only.

By doing this you allow the device to be a mythic fulfillment of everything missing inside the heart of the fanboy ... and for the hater it's the final confirmation that those Mac v. PC ads really were mocking you.

Allow me then to out myself: I want the iPhone. More than that, I want to pay to upgrade to the iPhone Pro a year later as well. In short, I'm tremendously excited about the iPhone and have been made more excited by some of the objections lodged against it.

Before continuing I should acknowledge that there's a legitimate problem with the phone. It should have been built to support 3G instead of EDGE. The browser is going to do a kick-ass job but it's gonna take you a lifetime to load the NYT. Second, there's a legit concern from those who point out that people like feedback when typing. I'm guessing that the much-touted patented solution for dealing with text input will take a few revs to get right. And even then there will still be folks for whom it won't feel natural.

But even with these concerns, the iPhone is good news for anyone who wants to buy a phone at any point in the future. Current cellphone UI has basically done one of two things: 1) bring Windows to the phone with a bunch of hierarchical directories (e.g. PalmOS or Windows Mobile) or 2) just been the worst software ever made (e.g. whatever the hell Sprint, Samsung and Motorola are doing).

Based on my extensive experience not-using it, the iPhone represents a step foward and I feel it will be a big step. By bringing touchscreen metaphors like pinch and scroll out of the MIT Media Lab and into the hands of millions, the iPhone will be more than just an innovative cell phone UI. I believe it will be a guide to ways in which we can move beyond the menu-driven point and click paradigm that's governed basically every device in the past 20 years.

If you consider this as the potential of the device, objections like "where's the extra memory card slot" or "it'll get scratched" don't really stack up. Even things like "what about the battery life" are relatively unimportant. The original iPod had a battery life of about 6 months and then you had to replace the entire fricking thing! It still revolutionized the way people interact with their music.

Going to MacWorld is like going to a church revival, and I'm really disappointed my one Keynote experience was a couple years back when nothing very important was announced. I think this year they announced something worth cheering for.

1 comment:

Derek said...

Maybe its because I'm old enough to have used DOS (and even the apple2), but the Palm Treo works for me, in that I can get phone calls, do email, web browse, buy more junk on ebay, nav around with google maps, and watch movies (which I do alot, especially when travelling).

I like the iPhone, cause it lets all my engineering friends at Palm tell management to stick it when they aren't getting time to make things like WiFi + phone work.