In the wake of the iPhone launch, and after 700,000 of the little guys landed in the hands of geeks like me, and teenage girls listening to music in the Millennium Force queue, I feel like responding to some of the criticism toward the device.
One of the biggest problems with any of this is that geeks in particular seem stuck in their ways, and Apple tends to challenge convention. Remember when everyone said that an all-in-one computer like the iMac would never sell because it wasn't expandable? Obviously, it has done quite well. What the geeks don't understand is that regular people could give two shits about things like that. It's why most consumer electronics devices, and especially wireless phones, suck, because the people designing them are geeks instead of regular people.
So here's why the objections don't matter...
1. The battery isn't user replaceable. I've had five phones in my life since 1997 or so. I've never replaced a battery on any of them. A quick survey of teenagers, soccer moms and even geeks will probably yield a similar response. With normal use, i.e., not the first day where I locked myself in a dark room with the iPhone and played with it all day, the phone ends up having a healthy charge at the end of the day. I can plug it in while I sleep.
2. It doesn't have removable or expandable memory. Er, OK, neither has any other phone I've had. Or any Palm device I've owned. My cameras do, and with 2 GB or larger cards, they never leave the device anyway. Again, survey the masses.
3. No physical keyboard. OK, so I admit that this was a concern of mine. I'm happy to report that after hacking out a few dozen text messages and some posts here, that I really don't care. The phone seems content to fix most of my typing mistakes if I trust it. It's not perfect, but it beats the crap out of T9!
4. AT&T's EDGE network sucks. I'll agree that it isn't that fast, but I have to ask... what the hell are you browsing? Yes, the Safari browser is better than most any mobile browser, but what the hell are you doing browsing on a 3.5" screen? That's what comprooders are for! If you're doing anything more than buying movie tickets, looking up on IMDB the actors' names and Googling for song lyrics while out in the world, you don't belong in the world. Get a life! Kiss a girl (or boy)!
5. No third-party apps. Again, I start to wonder what it is you really are doing with this thing, or rather, what you need it to do. I've already seen some nice Web-based apps tuned to the iPhone that are pretty amazing. The whole concept of installing something on the device is so 1999. Good year for partying, bad year for thinking about a connected world.
6. Can only sync with the cable, not by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. OK, think really hard about that one. If it can be exposed to the air, it can be hacked. Do you want your list of call girls or Wall Street insiders to be stolen?
7. You can't organize your files on the phone. Is it a phone or a hard drive? Don't be a moron. That's like saying you can't organize your toothpaste on your cat. It makes no sense.
8. The front of it is glass, and that's asking for trouble. Please. Watch this. The last truly durable phone I had was a Motorola Star-Tac that I finally retired back in 2003. It lasted me about four years! This new device has no significant moving parts and is actually made with metals and glass.
9. I can't make songs into ring tones. At first I thought that bothered me, until I realized the ring tone market is gigantic and dominated by kids who will pay three bucks for a ring tone but won't think twice about stealing the entire song on the Internet. Thus, I hurl a hardy "tough shit" to those critics!
10. It's too expensive. OK, so a new hot phone comes out and typically costs $300. A new iPod costs around $250. A Windows-based "smart phone" or Blackberry isn't cheap either. The iPhone does most of these things, it's certainly more durable, and it does things that actually make life on the planet easier, starting with the mapping stuff that is, quite frankly the best in class. $500 ain't cheap, but with those other devices you're going to pay at least $30 more for the data alone every month, let alone the voice. It all balances out.
I'll be the first to admit that the thing isn't perfect. Not being able to send picture messages sure is weird, and iChat would've been nice for, I guess chatting when I'm on the bus (if I actually rode a bus). But the truth is that for most consumers, the phone does the things most useful to you 95% of the time. You can be a poopy pants all you want, but this is pretty close to the device that consumers have been asking for since the dawn of time.