My Thoughts on the Apple Phone

Apple know how to design beautiful products.

But I’m waiting for v2 before I even consider buying one.  This isn’t a Microsoft shill; I have a Mac on my desk at work, and 4 iPods.  But this phone seems like something that is exciting to gadget-lovers, but a PITA for people who actually use their phone. 

Like most Apple products, the strategy seems to be to milk the early-adopters and use the revenues to build a v2 that is actually useful and inexpensive.  But that seems very strange with a device that requires a 2-year contract.  If you buy this phone, you’re stuck with a phone number for two years; and if you want to show off how “cool” you are by using it, you’ll need an extra phone number for your “real” cell phone.  I predict a bonanza for Cingular, with lots of dead “useful only to demonstrate my cool iPhone” phone numbers.  Like the RAZR, this phone is going to be considered a premium gift for guys to buy their girlfriends (“see baby, I am spending lots of money on you and you can show this off to your friends, so you better let me track your phone bill”).  And like the RAZR, lots of girls will find that being an alpha tester of a v1 product is a PITA for someone who isn’t technical.

Of course, it might turn out to be a perfect user experience, but it’s a huge risk.  I used a touchscreen-only PPC phone for 5 years.  I used to wonder why people who tried Blackberry never went back; but after switching to the Treo 700w (and later the Moto Q), I would never go back to touchscreen-only for my phone.  Lack of keyboard is a showstopper.  Once you get used to it, touchscreen is a hassle.  I used the Treo 700w (touchscreen + keyboard) side-by-side with the Moto Q (no touchscreen) for months, and finally realized that the Moto Q interface is easier for most of what I do.  I’m back on a Treo now, but only because my Q broke.

Many people I know have had similar experiences — for someone inexperienced, who hasn’t already tried a variety of phones, the iPhone probably looks attractive.  But after you’ve actually lived with a number of different phones and tried integrating them into your life, it looks pretty off.  That’s a very shiny surface to be putting up to your ear; and the device isn’t small.  Imagine eating fast food, driving, and listening to voicemail while you listen to music from your iPod on your car stereo — grease on the screen, slippery device without the rubbery grip of a Blackberry, no tactile feedback on keyboard.  No tactile feedback on navigation, so you have to keep your eyes glued on the screen to know where you are in the UI.  This is a device that you definitely do NOT want to use during normal life — only when you and other can give it your full visual attention.

2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Apple Phone”

  1. I’ll be interested to try it. I agree that a lack of a real tactile keyboard on a ‘smart’ phone may be a show stopper. There is a LOT of other cool stuff that the iPhone can do that I wish my Windows Mobile phone could do.

    For the record; I’ve had a lot of phones. A LOT of phones.

  2. Considering that you were one of the first to have a Newton, I figured it was a guarantee you would buy one. It reminds me a lot of the Newton in terms of being ahead of its time. The keyboard thig will be asy to fix, and they will make it smaller and cheaper eventually. Still; the other important function of the phone — finding nearby starbucks, Windows Mobile is still superior:

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