Dear Steve ……….

Dear Steve

Let me begin by adding my congratulations to the multitude on both an amazing product (I am talking about the iPhone in case you couldn’t guess) and a very impressive launch. I guess the loudest thanks are coming for your staff – nice touch that giving them all a free iPhone. Hope it’s not one of those gifts that end up costing the recipient, you are picking up the two year contract right?

I love the iPhone, I want an iPhone, but I wont be getting one now or in the future (caveat inserted here – in it’s current form) for one simple reason, I don’t need one.

At this point I have to congratulate you again for achieving something that in 44 years nether my parents or wife have managed to achieve, and that is to base my purchasing decision on need not want. I didn’t need the 9 iPods that I own, but I wanted every single one of them. How have you achieved this I can hear you asking yourself amongst all those acclamations raining down on you.

Simple really – you over engineered it. Yep, that’s right you offered me too much and at too high a price. You see my ‘must be in touch’ days are gone. I don’t need to be browsing the web 24/7, I don’t need to pick up my emails 5 minutes after leaving my study. I don’t need to sit opposite someone in a coffee bar ignoring what they are saying to me as I look at some pictures of my last vacation. Do I want to? Not at the price. You see I have no need for an additional data charge, so the fact that I need a contract with my mobile phone provider (see I am not American either – hmmm, just who do you reckon you can tie in to 2 years contracts in Europe by the way?) makes this a non starter.

A sexy phone designed by that genius Jonathan, with all the panache and style you bring to everything that actually looked and behaved like a phone, with a little bit of iPod thrown in for good measure is all I was after. I haven’t given up hope though – we wouldn’t have the shuffle (well 4 in my case) without the iPod (well 5 actually) so I am hoping with all my Mac dollars that you bring out something less feature rich, cheaper to run and that actually resembles a phone. I can’t be alone. I am not a market of one surely. In fact I would hazard a guess that there are probably more people like me around that you think.

Now there are people that want one – bet that’s no surprise to you, and I was talking to one just the other night. The son of one of our neighbours here in Spain is desperate for one, so much so that he must have broken off from checking and playing with his BlackBerry at least 12 times in the 20 minutes we were talking (well if you can call talking at the top of someone’s head as they bend over the phone all the time as talking). We had dinner with his family and the buzzing BB on the dining table went so nicely with the wine glasses. we had a great conversation – which reminds me I must email him to tell him what it was we talked about as I doubt he concentrated on the discussion for more than 5 minutes at any time. Now I have actually ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ but these days I rarely use my mobile phone. I can’t remember when I last sent a text message (from a 600 a month habit when I was working) and I have sent one picture from it in over 18 months. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t happily spend $300 or so on a sexy iPhone, and if it could utilise the wi-fi that I already pay for all the better.

But I don’t want you to worry – in addition to my friend above Glenn will be buying a iPhone when the reach New Zealand:

After all the hype surrounding the iPhone, it wouldn’t be a bold statement to say I’m sick of hearing about it and constantly seeing it on the front page of the major publications. Truth be told, I’m not – not one bit.

The iPhone is going to be a big hit for Apple (duh). I perceive the phone outselling initial market estimations. I do have a couple of concerns however. Firstly, the touch-screen keyboard.

It looks a little difficult to type on and I’m not too sure exactly how well people will adapt to it. The other contention in my mind is Apple’s real ability to define the iPod and iPhone lines independently as so they don’t cross over each other too much. What I believe Apple doesn’t want to see is the iPod taking away from iPhone sales, or vice versa if newer models are released.

Apple have some serious work to do over the next 12 months, I’m looking forward to having an iPhone land in my pocket in the first quarter of 2008.

On the other hand I think Darren may take a bit of persuading?

Putting the iPhone on hold

So if my calculations are correct we should have experienced iPhone-a-mania (note to self – must buy that url) at an Apple store or AT&T dealership near you. That’s if you live in North America. Over here in the U.K. we are going to have to wait until October-ish to get our hands on one.

This isn’t just a single article – no, it’s three combined into one (funny sounds famiiar?). My personal thoughts on the Widescreen iPod, Internet Communicator and an innovative Mobile Phone and why I won’t be standing in line to get one.

…a Widescreen iPod

Yes, I was an early adopter way back in 2001. I still have my 5 gigabyte iPod ‘codename breeze block’. It still works, apart from a loose connection in the headphone jack plug which causes it to intermittently cut out. Still useful as a firewire hard disk though, and handy if you ever need to reach a particularly high shelf or wedge a door open. I’m now sporting an 8 gigabyte iPod Nano which I think is great and has done wonders for my back problem.

I’ve never grasped the fascination with watching a movie on an iPod. It’s just never appealed to me. I guess it comes down to personal circumstances but I find the experience of watching a movie on something the size of a beer mat utterly pointless.

Movies to me are about the big screen, dolby digital surround sound, relaxing on the sofa, the whole experience. Not being shoehorned into a train carriage with 80 other people who are also trying to watch/listen to their favourite album/movie over the constant accompaniment of 80 other commuters coughing, laughing and farting simultaneously. I know the new iPhone has a bigger screen and I know it does the swivelly thing – whoop-de-do! But to me the circumstances of when and where I would actually watch this are an important consideration.

One other fatal flaw, well major concern is that it only has 8 gigabytes of memory. Do the math and things start to add up frighteningly quickly. Running an OS X variant (granted stripped down version), storing music, possibly some photos, contacts, iCal appointments and then attempting to squeeze The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Director’s Cut and the mental arithmetic alarm bells start ringing!

Now I’m on a roll, what about the battery? I seem to be forever charging the battery on my mobile and I’m only a moderate user. It seems to me, trying to watch movies, listen to music and or conduct normal business on a mobile would seriously drain a battery. I know Apple have recently released a statement regarding the battery life and on paper the figures do look very impressive. Maybe Apple have come up with some super-duper battery technology. Time will tell.

Next…

…an Internet Communicator

Once again I am going to refer to my beer mat analogy. But give Apple credit, they have resolved this with the impressive ballet like 2 finger split action. Zooming in and out of web pages seems to work like a treat on all the demonstrations I have seen.

But I have to ask myself do I need the facility to surf the net any more than I do now. I get up in the morning, check my email, travel to work and then spend 8 hours in front of a mac. I then travel home and invariably spend some of the evening on my laptop surfing. I did a rough estimation. I have access to the internet 85% of the day through a macintosh computer.

I tell a lie I’ve just remembered my Nokia N73 does have ‘access’ to the net. So I guess that means I have 100% access. I’ve tried it on my mobile and it wasn’t that great an experience. On the odd occasion I have checked web based email, checking my Gmail was relatively pain free. Network speed and the lack of proper keyboard slows you down.

I have never replied to email on my mobile. I’ve tried and failed and in the end it was to much like hard work. Maybe Apple are the guys to change this. But do I think that it would be worth getting an iPhone to make complete the circle and give me 100% pain free interent access. Probably not.

One thing that does interest me is VOIP compatibility. I think the lat time I checked their was still no word on if it would or wouldn’t be available. Anythings that helps me save money on my mobile bill is a bonus.

I’m sure that AT&T and the U.K. operator would much rather you used their network though.

I know for a fact that some newer handsets on the ‘3’ mobile network in this country can have Skype capability which I think is very, very interesting. I passed on ‘3’ at the time the Skype announcement hadn’t been made and also the network coverage can be a bit flaky. This surely must be at the top of the list for third party developers of the iPhone.

Enough of the negatives… now for some positives.

…an innovative Mobile Phone

The one thing that does interest me is the mobile phone. As I mentioned I currently use a Nokia N73. It’s OK as mobile handsets go, not really a smart phone I would class it as semi-smart phone. It syncs with my Mac, it has an impressive 3.2 mega pixel camera. I’ve had countless mobile handsets over the years and this is the first handset that I’ve chosen purely on the fact that it sync’d with my Mac. Being able to run Address Book, iCal and assorted other Apple apps on an iPhone natively would be extremely cool. But not entirely necessary to me.

What is it about mobile navigation menus? They’re so unintuitive. The thought of a mobile running an Apple OS (of some description) has me salivating! The whole finger pointing control is true genius. If it works as well as they claim and the screen does not scratch.

I guess what I’m ideally looking for is what like to call the ‘Frankiphone’. A smaller, cheaper, leaner iPhone bolted together from the bits I consider worth keeping. A mobile phone with, an Apple OS, core Apple applications, VOIP capability, wifi, MP3 audio playback – all the bargain basement price of £99! Well you can always dream! But if rumours are to be believed there is already a smaller iPhone Nano already in development.

But there is a spanner in the works. I’m currently two months into an eighteen month contract. So I won’t be upgrading soon. Unless they launch the ‘Frankiphone’ and Apple strike a deal with the Orange network, that way I could technically upgrade early.

On reflection this self imposed iPhone embargo might not be such a bad thing. Fast forward eighteen months to when my contract expires. We might be seeing the iPhone Rev. 3 or maybe Rev. 4, the iPhone Nano Rev. 2 and of course the soon to be announced iPhone Shuffle. Yes you heard it here first!

Taking something staid and boring and literally ripping up the rule book is something Apple excel at. Just look back to recent years, iMac, iPod and now the iPhone. With Apple there no rules. And the thing that links all these innovative products together is…?

Great Apple software.

So Steve there you have it. Maybe it is a English ‘thing’ but 2 year contracts, paying for something that you really don’t need and in reality wont use that often. I know that isn’t the culture you guys have over there, but ours means we get to talk to the people we are having coffee with. We eat at the table when we have a meal not keep in touch with other people. We sit down together and watch a movie – not bad values you know.

But wait a minute – seems like Wayne really wants one, but can’t get one!

Long live the iPhone, may it’s reign be long and peaceful. It’s here, in America now, though not as exciting for me as it should be. You see, I live here in Vermont, a small state in New England in the NorthWest portion of the states. When I try and see what’s in store for the AT&T service in our area, AT&T sends back this lovely message:

We are expanding our coverage every day but unfortunately this is one of the few areas we haven’t reached yet. Please check back soon.

That’s the entire state, not just a small patch of area. Has always been this way, they say it will be years before it’s any different. Since I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, then the one carrier thing sucks.

No! It really does! See, I was really looking forward to it. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a phone/PDA/Music Player, etc. I’ve owned an old Palm 100 and used that for awhile, but it just didn’t do it for me. It never synced with the stuff I really needed it to, so it just sat most of the time. So, saying that I won’t be getting an iPhone now is much, much easier than if I really had a choice. If I really had a choice, and needed a mobile, which I really don’t, than I would want one for at least Christmas!

So, I don’t have anything to tell you about how the iPhone is going to do over here in the states that you won’t already know by following everything else. I do have a scoop on a really decent Bluetooth headset that you may want to take a look at. That is if Apple doesn’t release is little stick headset that you see in photos. The headset is called a JawBone, and what it has going for it is it’s noise canceling feature. You can literally be mowing your lawn and answer a call, and not only hear your call, but your caller will hear you. Got something to do with military technology or something to that effect, but it’s pretty nifty. There is a way to cancel the noise canceling effect if you’d like to talk normally without having every sentence you say seem to be cut off at the end with silence.

The JawBone is about 2 centimeters high by 5.5 centimeters long and about 1 thick at it’s thickest. Looks a bit like a Mac Pro Cheese-grater design. Like something you might see a bunch of black suits and black sunglasses dropping out of the sky out of a black helicopter. (Or maybe on a Doctor Who episode.)

I’ve been using the JawBone for the past few weeks, and must say, it’s a nice headset. I’ve heard rumors that it will be sold along side the iPhone, but we’ll have to see if Apple brings out it’s own. It has paired up with a phone nicely with no problems – even pairs up quickly with the iMac so Skype works great. It can stay a long, (120 hour standby, 6 hour talk,) time on your ear. It can also go from dead to fully charge in a short 2 hours. The Jawbone includes several different ear pieces and loops to fit most ears, is very lightweight, includes a USB charger with wall adapter. Very nice packaging too, if your into that sort of thing.

So besides the accessories, the non–coverage areas in the States and the rest of the world, we will just have to see how the “other” people like it. Maybe when it gets worldwide distribution and a 2.0 status it will be more affordable and attractive to everyone else.

Now Steve, I have said it before and I will say it again – what is it with this lack of coverage carrier? We had that issue in the UK in the 80’s when the mobile phone craze began, but fundamentally we have resolved that. I can’t conceive a a county in the UK not being covered by a network. Bizarre to say the least!

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. If you can get Jonathan to knock up a simpler and more affordable model I will be very happy, honest!

10 thoughts on “Dear Steve ……….

  1. Chris Marshall Post author

    I think that once this thread comes to end I hope not to talk about the iPhone for a long long time 🙂

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    Thanks – for the comment and the contribution. Will be interesting to see if we stick to our words in the months to come.

    If you haven’t already check out Cali’s video and comments – she is not a happy bunny over on GeekBriefTV

  3. Mac Sokulski

    Being a gadget freak I want one…. bad. The problem is that I can’t have one. My current provider runs it’s network on CDMA, and the whole company is on that. The company is not going to switch to a GSM provider. So unless Apple releases the iPhone that has CDMA radio instead of GSM, I’m all over that little beauty. As right now I feel like a donkey (***) with a juicy carrot dangling in front of me…. just beyond my reach.

  4. Chris Marshall Post author

    So all you really need to do is climb the career ladder and become the boss 🙂

    OR – wait a week for the hackers to crack using it without a AT&T contract on wifi only.

  5. Mac Sokulski

    Apparently it’s been cracked already. So this is even more tempting as ebay is close 🙂
    But knowing my luck I’ll get it and next month apple will release a new ipod which will be and iPhone with out the phone. I hate Apple sometimes….

  6. Mac Sokulski

    Pretty much. I’ve noticed that you have to be really careful with Apple products. Nothing gets announced, unless it’s already here. Which is frustrating, because you go out and buy what you think is the latest product, and basically kick yourself after a week when they introduce something newer and better. On the other hand this is good for Apple as they can practically do what they want. They are not bound by release dates, nor features they promise and not deliver, like the other company that starts with M.
    Rumours are a non issue for me, as I always take them with a grain of salt…. actually more salt than I like. It’s all speculation and sometimes it comes true, and sometimes it does not. Like the rumour that new iLife should be out by end of summer. I believe it when I actually have it installed. So that’s why I hate Apple sometimes… Sorry for the rant.

  7. Chris Marshall Post author

    I love a rant!!!!

    You know my history of purchases – one week after buying my first PowerBook they announce the MacBook Pro. The day my MacBook arrives they upgrade them.

    I think there is a slight flaw in your rant though namely AppleTV, Leopard and iPhone all of which got announced well in advance, and at least two were delayed.

    I also think Apple consumers have to get used to the ‘new’ Apple – the consumer business Apple not the computer business Apple. In the ‘old’ days they didn’t bring out as much, it was all very ‘shout from the top of the mountains’ but now they just have to reserve that for the big stuff not the speed bumps – which to be honest get over hyped anyway. Maybe 10% of Mac users are actually stressing out their machines and even that could be improved on with better data and workflow management.

    They say that all addicts really deep down hate the thing they are addicted to.

    Good comment though!

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