Monday Oct 01, 2007

iPhone

On a recent trip to Silicon Valley I was able to get my hands on an iPhone at the Apple Store in East Palo Alto. I have heard so much spoken about the device from podcasts, colleagues and friends that I guess finally seeing one in the flesh (so to speak) was doomed to be a let down. Certainly the device design (mechanical and GUI) is pretty - it is designed by Apple after all - but I did not find the UI particularly intuitive and it was only after some coaching (admittedly brief) from one of the shop assistants was I able to navigate the device at all. I never was able to discover the short cut to lock the screen, something which is critical for a device with such a large touch screen. I am reliably informed by my friends and colleagues that as a non Mac user I have put myself at a disadvantage when it comes to using the UI and that I would pick it up relatively quickly.

So to the applications. Well I did not see anything on the device that I do not have today on my Palm/Phone combo - email, web, video player, audio player, contacts, calendar, google maps, etc - in fact it was lacking some key applications for me - Mobile Documents, UK Streetmaps, Sudoko. In fact I think one of the devices major limitations is the decision to not open it up to 3rd party content. Don't get me wrong I am not an Apple basher. I love their products and my iPod is one of my favourite gadgets that goes everywhere with me.

 So why would I not buy an iPhone. Four main reasons really.

  1. The lack of 3rd Party applications.
  2. Being forced onto one network operator.
  3. The small size of the storage and the in-ability to expand it.
  4. No 3G data service.

As all my friends keep telling me this is the iPhone 1.0 and I am sure that these things will be addressed in future variants.

What happened next was actually more interesting to me than the device itself. My wife is a complete technophobia and the more I get into technology the more she seems to lose patience and interest in it. She had been waiting outside the store in the sunshine and finally came in to drag me out. By now I had moved in from the iPhone and was looking at some iPod docks. Out of sheer boredom she picked up one of the iPhone demo devices and started to play with it. Within seconds and without any assistance she had worked out how to use it and was getting increasingly animated as she started to discover what it would do. At this point I realised my mistake. I was not the target market for the iPhone. I am more than happy to spend time crawling the net for 3rd party applications and then installing and configuring them to get the functionality I want. What Apple have built is a smart phone for the far larger market place which are those people who either do not want to or can't do their own systems integration - Just like the MAC - Just like iTunes/iPod.

So my only remaining question is at the current price point are they really going to be able to hit their target market. While I am  not convinced of this I am also convinced that over time they will reduce the price to the point to where it needs to be.

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seanharris

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