Welcome, iPhone

iphone.jpgScott Bourne and Alex Lindsay — I owe you both a big apology. In 2006, I got tired listening to the guys on MacBreak Weekly talk about the coveted “iPhone” like it was some sort of super-device. We’d seen nothing of it. Steve Jobs himself had gone on record saying that the PDA market wasn’t an area that Apple was looking to move into. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why these guys were salivating over the mere thought that Apple would make a phone. To me, it was almost the worst kind of fanatacism and Apple fanboy like behavior that drives people insane.

Gentlemen, I stand corrected. I guess I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

Today Apple (now officially Apple, Inc.) exceeded even my wildest expectations of what a phone could be. Pre-keynote I had no thoughts of buying yet another mobile phone. My Motorola Q still catches stares on the subway and it serves me just fine. I browse the web all the time and EVDO seems to be improving. I’m even starting to incorporate media as I take photos and record audio occasionally with it. What more could I possibly want?

My thoughts after the MacWorld keynote? I looked down at my Q and it seemed like a tin can on the end of a string.

You’d have to be a pretty sour sport not to get excited at this device (or at least what Apple’s promising.) Honestly, as enthusiastic about the device as I am right now, my description of the features couldn’t do it justice. For the best demo, watch the keynote.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. The link is here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/keynote/

Seen it yet? OK, I understand. You don’t have the time. Well, find the time and watch this. Steve dazzles again in typical Jobs fashion.

So, what am I excited about?

  • “Like a tiny MacBook” – This seems like more than just a phone that plays music and video. This is like having a smaller version of my MacBook Pro that fits into my pocket.
  • Beautiful display – Reactions to the quality of the display from folks who’ve held the device and made calls on the demo unit so far (Gizmodo and Engadget to name a few) have noted that it’s incredible with deep blacks and crisp colors.
  • Cool gesturing system – The gesturing system that they’ve developed makes this the kind of phone I wish I could give to my mother. Pinching your fingers together to zoom in on the image and then spreading them out to zoom out seems so intuitive. And I’m loving the way that you pull down the screen with your finger to scroll.
  • OS X? On my phone?? – Having a version of OS X that’s mobile puts an evil smirk on my face. From a development standpoint, consider the possibilities of having all of the current OS X developers create unique apps using Cocoa or perhaps even creating extensions of existing apps. Oh, the possibilities.
  • Real mobile web-browsingSimply being able to browse the net in it’s true all-out format is what I’ve been waiting for. Browsing with the Q is good, but I’m tired of looking for mobile versions of apps. And wouldn’t it be nice to just cache sites before I head into the train station? I thought about possibly looking at an OQO, but a device like this would be perfect.
  • Movies on the go never looked like thisPreviously, I didn’t think I’d want to watch movies on any iPod. I think I might be willing to watch movies on this. I occasionally watch downloaded iTunes TV shows on my 5th Gen iPod and it’s an o.k. experience. This screen is significantly bigger. This is starting to make me wish I had a longer train ride.
  • Innovating the way that we make phone calls – I think what impressed me most was the way that the phone allowed for visually switching between callers via Caller ID. Even after the slick way that Steve conferenced in Jonathan Ive and Phil Schiller, I had the biggest grin when he was able to put one of the callers on hold and talk to the other. I can’t even do that on my regular home phone.
  • Browsing while talking? I’m starting to believeIn one demo, Phil Schiller called Steve on the iPhone and Steve left the phone screen while talking to him and went into his photos, drafted and e-mail, copied a bunch of people, sent the e-mail with the image and never left the call. On my Q, when I try to leave the screen when I’m on a phone, it laughs at me.
  • Voicemail innovation – Leave it to Apple to make the Cingular engineers think outside the box and allow the voicemails to be displayed visually (like wav files) on the phone and give you the opportunity to listen to them out of the order that they were left.
  • iLife on my phone – Having versions of iTunes and iPhoto on my phone might be too much to handle. I’ll have to keep it in my bag so that I can concentrate at work.

And I could go on and on….. just watch the keynote.

But my thoughts weren’t all “happy, happy, joy, joy.” There are a few things that worry me. The phone isn’t releasing until June and while I don’t think these things will be addressed this go round, I’m certain that future versions of the iPhone will address them:

  • Price – $499 (4GB) and $599 (8GB) are a bit steep, even for a device this slick.
  • Removable Storage?? – Yeah, 4GB and 8GB should be enough. But where’s the ability to expand the storage via SD, Mini-SD or other storage format?
  • Breakable? – It looks kind delicate. I must take my hat off to my Q. It’s been dropped a few times and even with no case it’s been great. This looks like it might not survive the same kinda punishment. And at $600, you’ll see a grown man cry if it breaks.
  • Theft target – You think those white earbuds are targets for mugging? Wait until folks start carrying this thing around? I use the Q to watch a downloaded video and the guy next to me has his neck practically on my shoulder watching. Imagine this thing on the train?
  • Battery expandability – I have an extended battery that goes with my Q. It keeps me up for a few days straight. With all that I’d be doing on this phone, I doubt that the “16 hours of music playback / 5 hours of talk time” would hold up to my browsing the web as much as I do. As slim as the device is, I’d compensate the size a bit if there was some way that you could slap another battery on it.
  • Video chat? Oh, camera’s on the wrong side! – With the phone supporting EDGE and Wi-Fi, this would be the ideal video chat phone. But the camera is on the back of the phone! How could they have missed that? This is something that other carriers have figured out already. The camera should be either on both sides or somehow move to both in order to both take digital shots while looking at the screen and to allow for video chat.

I could go on here as well. However, complaining more would totally be taking away from the moment in the light that this phone has. Steve purposely put all other announcements on hold in anticipation of the response that this phone would get. And was he right. It’s all I’m hearing about on the net right now.

iPhone…. we welcome you! I know that you’ll have a revised version out next year that will have better battery life, bigger storage capacity, a camera that can take shots from either side of the phone and all for a cheaper price. But somehow, I just can’t….stop…..looking…..at……you. Let’s run away and be together! Just as long as it’s someplace that can get an Edge connection.

My sources tell me that Verizon was in the running to share the rights to having the phone. However, Cingular ended up getting the exclusive rights. And with that probably goes my loyalty to Verizon. It’s been grand, guys. But aside from the Q and great signal quality, what else are you doing for me. If I can get a deal with Cingular where I can pay under $60 monthly for between 500 and 800 minutes and have web access, I’ll pay the damn termination fee and get this device.

And now the waiting begins. The phone doesn’t release until June of this year. (Hmmm. That’s plenty of time to get out of this Verizon contract!) 🙂


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