Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Is the iPhone Really All That Great?

Ever since the iPhone was announced in January, it has been generating a huge amount of buzz. Somehow I've struggled to understand why it is such a great product. And I don't think it will be the runaway bestseller that everyone expects. Will it sell out the day it goes on sale? No doubt as there is limited supply. Now let's go over some of the reasons I am not sold on the idea.

As of now, it is only available through AT&T in the United States and I don't believe it is going to be available anywhere else in the world for a while. AT&T is certainly one of the major carriers. Unfortunately one of their weak points is the quality of their data service. Given that the iPhone promotes browsing the Web, e-mail and more; I would think that having a good data network would be necessary. People could blame the phone when it is really the network at fault. A cousin of mine is an AT&T customer already and he just had no interest in the iPhone. Will users of other carriers switch just to get an iPhone? I'm not sure they will.

Difficulty in composing e-mail and text messages. There is no dedicated keyboard as with many smartphones. Instead there is an onscreen keyboard. In talking to a college student last week, he complained that he had never seen a keyboard.

A very high price. The base model sells for $499 and the top model sells for $599. This is actually in line with many other smartphones. But there is one major difference. AT&T claims they won't offer incentives on the iPhone. Typically these incentives could knock at least $200 off the price if you lock into the carrier for a year or two. It seems the iPhone is targeted at a younger market and that market just doesn't have the budget to spend this much money on a phone.

Feature bloat. Of course one of the biggest selling points is that it has an integrated iPod for listening to music and watching video. I have a smartphone that supports both music and video. After having the phone for a year, I've never once even considered listening to a song on it. I have looked at the video option and watched about two minutes of video. It was cute, but I don't really want to watch video on my phone. I have a dedicated MP3/video player that I carry when I do want music or video. Mostly I use it for music. The screen is just too small to really enjoy the video.

Developer support. First, there were to be no third party applications. Given that other smartphones do support third party applications, this was a real negative. Apple now has said that apps that work in the Safari browser will work on the iPhone. I still think this is a very limited way to support third parties and it will discourage power users.

The one thing the iPhone does have going for it is that it looks cool and Apple is trying to convince everyone that cool people will own an iPhone. This same type of thing happens in the software world. The message in the design world is that you aren't cool if you don't use Adobe products. Well, I'll take productivity and profits over cool any day. Give me my CorelDRAW and don't even think of convincing me to get an iPhone!


Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

While some carpenters stand around in a group talking about the latest new tools, there's a guy on the horizon building a house.

Foster, you are so right. I had a female client last week who wanted to buy a Mac.

Her PC was becoming painfully slow. It happens to everyone who never cleans out the junk and defrags once in a while.

It was a golden opportunity for me to ask:

"Why do you want a Mac?"

2 answers;
"They look cool, and my girlfriend has one."

One thing that's overlooked is the software side of things.

There's no guarantee that the software one has or intends to use will work, even with parallels or whatever. This is serious factor IMO...

2:32 PM  

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