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iPhone: I Don’t Get It

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What is our obsession with technology? I try so hard to understand it. I love my computer as well as my iPod – I even love my Blackberry. I adore my Husqvarna electronic sewing machine. But would I ever…EVER have slept outside a store in the rain to buy them? Um, no.
In the past, concert tickets, yes. But not for something that will be available AND cheaper in the months to come.

The iPhone on its release day was priced from $500.00 to $750.00 and this is a phone that’s based on slower, 2G, or second-generation, wireless phone technology with a limited memory of 4 or 8 gigabytes – far less than the 30 to 80 GB in full-size iPods. But – shiver – it seems there are people who will still camp outside a store to be the first to have one; is that what it's about? Did they do their homework and find out what they’d be waiting for? Did they weigh the worth of trading their mattress for a lawn chair or bedroll on concrete for one night?

What is it exactly that would make people willing to do this? Owning the first even though it may be inferior to its successors? Already, word is out that there’s a major hurdle to overcome with the iPhone: e-mail. The way that Apple’s set up its e-mail servers is incompatible with many corporate systems. Therefore, users may not be able to access work e-mail. Companies could change policies if enough top execs became iPhone puppets, but for most of us, don't hold your breath.

Alright, back to its assets, or lack thereof – it doesn't do games, so you can rule that out. It does just about everything else, but not games.

Okay, so then use it as a phone…uhuh! Kind of a waste, isn’t it? You can't type in names to quickly bring up someone from the contact list. Voicemail is listed with the caller's name or number, sort of like e-mail. And the cheapest service plan costs $60 a month for 450 daytime minutes — relatively expensive, since you're paying for unlimited data use. Getting 1,350 minutes costs $100 a month.

Okay, okay, so how about picture taking then? It has a 2-megapixel camera which isn’t bad. But phones that are designed for serious photo taking also record video and have higher resolutions. As an example, the new Nokia N95 has a 5-megapixel sensor and a Zeiss lens.

So, how about aiding the frequent flyer? Will this benefit him overseas then? Possibly, but it's not really ideal for that either. Sure, it works overseas, but only at AT&T's roaming rates. You’re better to have a world phone that has been "unlocked" by the carrier, so you have the option to use a local number and pay local rates.

Could it be entertainment then? I dunno about that either. Windows Mobile phones like the  T-Mobile Wing already give you all that very nicely. And the recently released Blackberry, the Curve, plays music through a standard stereo headphone jack and has a built-in camera too.

So what is the attraction to sleeping on the street overnight in the rain, to pay $500.00 or more for something that you can buy 2 months from now on a sunny afternoon? Or after waiting for the glitches to be ironed out by others?

Cheaper than the others? Nope! It's sure not that either. This first-generation iPhone is likely to be followed by something much better. One that’ll use a faster cellular broadband network and have more memory. Why didn't buyers wait for Apple's inevitable upgraded iPhone, which will smack the current model to $299 or so? Yeah, maybe this first iPhone will be upgradeable, but would still require a trip back to the Apple store to get it done.

Please help me understand if you were one of those that did that the night before the release of the iPhone. It’s almost frightening to see the lack of individual thought anymore. Like watching electronic brain control. Announce on television that a new gadget or gizmo is going on sale at a particular date and time and it draws humans to spend their money on it like a magnet. They even had a group in San Francisco called "Over Here, Jerks!" ready to release a wild animal or do some other stunts that caused lines of iPhone buyers to disperse. The plan was to have everybody in line run away, except for the company's client, who'll be first up for service.

Alright, so this was San Francisco, but still. Not any sillier really than what all these people are doing in front of the stores, is it?

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  • http://p0ps.typepad.com/p0ps_blog/ p0ps

    The attraction of the iPhone itself is that it is a hand-held connected computer + a nice media player with an advanced interface. And, oh, it’s a phone too.

    The attraction of sitting in front of a store for hours is publicity and party, to be at a cool event and have some fun meeting new people.

    Not that difficult to understand, humans often exhibit behavior of this nature.

  • howlongtoretire

    Ginger,

    Perhaps you see the irony in working just as hard to talk yourself out of the iPhone as others did to talk themselves into it?

    Why not just stop the speculation and go see one for yourself?

  • http://thefuturestack.com futurestack

    have you touched one? I sure couldn’t care less up until my first one second with the device actually in my hand. now I need to take cold showers until I can get it working with a non-AT&T Network

  • sal m

    great points…i’m not into the iPhone concept even thought the iPod is the greatest invention ever…i’m also wary of first gen devices…i guess everyone is a sucker for hype of some kind…for me it’s video game related stuff.

  • lofi

    I camped out and got my hands on one. don’t get me wrong (I mean I’m the kind of apple fan that would pay a premium to cup steve jobs balls in my mouth) but its just ok, but it doesn’t live up to the hype.

  • http://www.back-to-the-egg.blogspot.com/ Ginger Haycox

    howlongtoretire;
    After all my curiosity ran it’s course, I did just that. And while I’m not denying it’s a nifty, snifty little deal…I still wouldn’t sit outside all night waiting for the doors of a store to open so I could get one. I guess I’d rather snuggle into my quilt til morning & then go buy one if I really wanted one. =)

    And p0ps, sitting in front of a store for hours is publicity & party – to be at a cool event & have some fun meeting new people?? Okay, now I’m more confused than ever! Your concept regarding cool events is continents apart from mine obviously. Parties, concerts, even maybe waiting in line for concert tickets okay. Waiting to buy a phone? Nah…

  • daryl d

    Well, one thing is for sure-this is not a business friendly phone and Im typing this message on my iPhone now…this keyboard is painful to use. but the interface of this phone is miles ahead of anything I have used and the extra time it takes for the pages to load is worth it since the iPhone displays the real Internet, not some dumbed down version. this phone is so sexy that it will make you need to take several cold showers.

  • cake

    You are looking at it from a tech-geeks perspective. The thing with the iphone, and most apple products, is that they are designed with style. Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that it just means they look pretty, no, they work well too – everything has been designed, from the hardware to the software.

    Also, some minor mistakes you made. It does do games. You also make a common mistake of comparing the iphone to a ton of other gadgets, N95, Wing, Blackberry. No one gadget does all things the iphone does.

    Of course, this still doesn’t mean that I am going to wait in line for one. Some people just get more excited about things than other people. Is that so hard to believe.

    So I think the answer to your question is: People are different, and want different things.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=Vichus%20Smith Vichus Smith

    1. Hype

    2. Popularity

    3. Keeping up with the jonses/ feeling elite

    4. The promise of something “different”

    5. general geekiness

    I think these are the reasons people spend hundreds of dollars over a piece of technology that hasn’t exactly been perfected and they don’t truly need anyway. A credit card’s easier to swipe than it is to pay for, after all. :)

    But as long as someone in America’s making money, right? Nice article.

  • http://www.back-to-the-egg.blogspot.com/ Ginger Haycox

    Cake; I have a very healthy respect for the ‘i’ products… as well as the Apple products in general. That wasn’t my issue really. What I was mystified by was the ‘need’ that drove people to camp out on city streets waiting for the opportunity to buy it. Why they couldn’t have waited one more day? Or week? Or six months when it would be half the price with all the kinks worked out. I have a couple of friends who work at an Apple store in the Bay Area CA & even they are stunned. It’s way too expensive for starters. It’s a phone & an internet communicator okay? People are paying anywhere from $500.- to $700.- for this. Why not just take your phone & your iPod & go?

    And Microsoft has that weird ophone which I hear good things about, but haven’t seen yet. For people into gadgetry tho’…

    One I know for a fact will be cheaper in the long run is the LG Prada. While it’s close to the same price if you’re buying one, it isn’t when you get down to it. I’m not sure if it’s here just yet, but it was released in the UK the same day the iphone was. One difference – it’ll be free with a $69/month year-and-a-half contract. That includes 500 voice minutes & 500 text messages) but still free.

    And what’s going to happen is LG decides to sue Apple like Cisco has? Will this impact the iphone owners long term? There’s a lot of ‘if’s’ in the iphones future…

    Also since I wrote the original post here, I have talked to a friend in Vegas who got himself the iphone. He was initially impressed, a new toy after all, but after a few days is giving it second thought. You cannot put in a Sim card. The phone is sealed so it only works on AT&T.

    For one, no matter how great all the features are, if, in a years time the battery dies, what do you have to do? If it’s a normal phone, you get down to a store & buy a new battery. With the iphone, you need to fill out a form, mail it in to a repair center & wait two or more weeks for it to come back. Not me, thanks. Not good. Not for that price!

    My question was really not whether or not it measured up to others, (tho’ I did bring up that fact), but why buyers have to be right there the second it goes on sale. I just think you’re rewarded many times by simply being patient.