So Steve Jobs announced that the ever-so-longed-for iPhone will be released in June. In theory, the iPhone is the ultimate in combining two devices: the iPod and the cell phone. However, the spectacular iPhone is utterly impractical.
Jobs has asserted his belief that the iPhone is “five years ahead of any other phone.” I assume he is referring to the iPhone’s capacity for photos, Google maps, iTunes, Podcasts, and more. The phone might be able to do a lot more than other phones, but Jobs seems to be missing the practicality that everyone was looking for in an iPod that could be used as a phone.
For starters, the price is outrageous. The iPhone will be between $500 and $600! Considering the fact that a sufficient video iPod is about half that price, it is hard to imagine many people will be willing to pay that much for the iPhone, especially since most people get a decent cell phone at a discounted price (or free) through their wireless provider.
On the topic of wireless providers, the only network that the iPhone will be compatible with is Cingular. If you are a Cingular user, and happen to have $500 to spend on a new phone, then I suppose this could work great for you. For the rest of the world who has T-Mobile or Verizon, or any other carrier, at this point, the iPhone would do them no good. One could always switch to Cingular, except many cell phone users are under a contract with their current provider. For instance, I imagine many Verizon customers are a bit frustrated at the fact that they recently signed a 2-year contract to get the popular “Chocolate” phone for $100.
That brings up another interesting discussion. Why is the iPhone such an exciting new development if companies like Verizon are already offering phones like the Chocolate, which doubles as an MP3 player? Well, the answer to that is simple… iTunes.
At this point, iTunes dominates about 75% of the online music business. Downloads from iTunes, however, are not typical MP3 files. They are created in such a way that they can only be played on iPods or burned onto a CD. (There is probably a way around this, but I, for one, have not found it, which eliminates the “user friendly” aspect of Apple). Since iTunes currently has the greatest selection of music downloads, this creates the sense of need to have an iPod above any other MP3 player. This is a great marketing strategy for Apple, although it does make things harder on the iTunes buyers.
Now, getting back to the iPhone, given the popularity and necessity for people to have an iPod, and the reality that most people do carry cell phones, the convenience of the iPhone is supposed to be that you now only have to carry around one device, not two. As if these two devices (cell phone and iPod) are so burdensome to carry around anyway. I thought the whole allure of products such as the iPod nano and the Cingular Razr is how small they are. Isn’t is a bit contradictory of Apple and Cingular to act as if it is necessary to eliminate one of the two, when they have spent so much time marketing how small and convenient these products are?
Speaking of phones, it seems that the iPhone’s cell phone features would not appeal to most cell phone users. For the most part, cell phone users these days tend to prefer a flip phone, like the Razr. The iPhone is not a flip phone. It also features something that is supposed to be user friendly, but may actually be looked down on: the touch screen.
The iPhone does not have traditional cell phone buttons. It does not even have the same finger scroll functions as the iPod. It has a touch screen. It seems that this would make it a lot easier for buttons to get pressed accidentally. For many cell phone users, this is why they choose flip phones. With a flip phone, you don’t have to lock and unlock the keys every time you use the phone to prevent it from accidentally dialing in your purse or pocket. Although the iPhone is said to have sensors to tell when your face is near, so you don’t accidentally touch something with your face while you are talking on the phone, it seems that the touch screen will present other problems. For instance… the tiny cell phone buttons can already be hard for someone with large fingers to deal with. Will the touch screen be difficult for people with large fingers?
Although the iPhone concept seems like a good one, at this point, the idea is half-baked.