Monday, July 02, 2007

iPhone it in, iPhone home, iPhone sucks (you in)

As an enthusiastic but non-fanatical Mac user, I am always interested to see Apple products. I wasn't initially too excited about the iPod or iTunes, which were inferior to other alternatives, and still are. For example, since my iPod must be synced to one computer, if I come home late at night I am listening to content I downloaded to it late the previous evening, 24-hour old podcast content, in other words. There are some workarounds, and I could use my other player, but it doesn't queue my content in time order as I do on the Shuffle, so it requires navigation, but I prefer to be hands-free in transit so I can hold a train strap and my bag.

In general, the problem with some Apple apps is that they are control freaks. As much as I like their products, Steve Jobs is a control freak, but an unsuccessful control freak, while Bill Gates is a more successful control freak with a slightly looser grip, which allowed him to become more powerful than Apple, which wanted to control your hardware, too. I still prefer Apple and don't fear their control mentality, since Jobs is about 8 inches tall next to a full-sized Bill Gates. Mac works better. If or when I do abandon the Mac platform it will be for Ubuntu, not Vista. Ubuntu is improving rapidly and I will run it if I buy a PC and can get it to do the things I need it to do.

The iPhone has enjoyed the most ecstatically hyped launch in history, perhaps, but a few problems have been pointed out. I googled up 30,000 hits for "iPhone sucks". The best dissection so far: This site (essistme) listed 20-odd problems with the iPhone.

Downsides of the Apple iPhone:
• You CANNOT FREELY USE THE iPHONE ON OTHER CONTINENTS WITH SIM CARDS - you are restricted to AT&T international roaming networks only.
• … YOU HAVE TO LITERALLY PAY AT LEAST $2196+ FOR THE iPHONE for your 2 year contract.
• … You CANNOT record video clips
• Even though it has a 2 Megapixel camera, you CANNOT SEND PICS TO OTHER CELL PHONES VIA MMS PICTURE MESSAGING.
• You CANNOT DOWNLOAD OR ACCESS ITUNES DIRECTLY from the iPhone, you always have to do it through you PC or Mac’s iTunes program and then sync files.
• … TYPING PERIODS AND COMMAS ARE A PAIN IN THE NECK, requiring you to go to a 2nd screen each time. Given that you use a period or comma in almost every sentence you type, this is NOT CONVENIENT.
• You CANNOT GO ON VACATION OR ROAD TRIP WITHOUT YOUR CHARGER because it doesn’t have a removeable battery, so you cannot use multiple batteries as back-up or spare
• You CANNOT LOAD MORE THAN 4GB or 8GB worth of video, music, audio, documents, contacts, email, etc because there is NO REMOVEABLE STORAGE CARD supported
• The iPhone CANNOT SURF THE WEB AS FAST AS MOST COMPETITOR PHONES like the 3G Blackjack or Blackberry because it does not support 3G
• You CANNOT CONNECT TO ALL iPOD DOCKS AND CONNECTORS currently out there - most will work, and a upgrade may be in the works, but for now, you may have to buy yet another accessory to connect the iPhone to speakers, car radio, etc.
• About connections, not all earplugs/headsets will fit into the jack since it’s reported to be a extra deep connection. Some accessory manufacturers are going to sell $40 adaptors just to get their standard earphone jacks to work with the iPhone
• You CANNOT WALK OUT OF THE STORE WITH A WORKING iPHONE - you’ll have to go home and activate it through
• Since the iPhone DOES NOT HAVE A REMOVABLE BATTERY, and the expected life is 300-400 charges, you’ll HAVE TO SHIP IT TO APPLE TO REPLACE THE BATTERY EVERY YEAR OR TWO just like iPods. Who wants to be separated from their smart phone for a week every year or two AND have to pay for it!
• Intelligent keyboard and all, but you CANNOT COPY/PASTE ANYTHING! That’s called a sin of omission.
• Although it’s being marketed as web device with the “real internet” with a “real browser” (Apple Safari), it DOES NOT SUPPORT FLASH, which is used on tons and tons of websites out there.
• Although you can watch up to 10,000 videos on YouTube, you CANNOT VIEW ANY AND ALL VIDEOS FROM YOUTUBE.
• Although you may be able to use Meebo or other sites as a work around for Instant Messaging, the iPhone DOES NOT SUPPORT INSTANT MESSAGING
• Although it is an iPod, and although you can use a bluetooth headset for calls, the iPhone DOES NOT SUPPORT STEREO MUSIC STREAMING THROUGH BLUETOOTH HEADSETS, even if you have have the Jawbone or any other bluetooth headset capable of doing that with a A2DP supported phone.
• You won’t be able to sit in line and pull out your iPhone to play games, because the iPhone DOES NOT HAVE ANY GAMES. Games from the iTunes store are not compatible.
• Although you can fill it up with 8 GIGS worth of mp3 songs from iTunes, you CANNOT CUSTOMIZE YOUR RINGTONES WITH MP3 SONGS
• You CANNOT USE IT AS A MODEM like you can with the SamsungVaio laptop.
• The iPhone CANNOT GET REAL-TIME GPS MAPPING like you can on the Blackberry 8800 because it is NOT GPS enabled
• Although it has the “most advanced” interface using your fingers and the touch-screen, you CANNOT USE VOICE COMMANDS OR VOICE RECOGNITION OR VOICE DIALING.
The iPhone seems like a technology from an alternate timeline, with some features on the bleeding edge and others many years behind. I have shifted some of the fatal flaws and deal-breakers to the top of the list I reproduced here. It seems like the user interface and touchscreen are a year or more out in front, however, they should have never tied it to one carrier. That will lose them 80% of their potential market, you would think, unless they intend to end that agreement in a year or two when they have a bigger slice of the market. Another major deal-killer is that we are used to unlocking the handsets from the SIM cards so we can pop in a different SIM card and give that identity to that phone (another trick my wife taught me). It's very handy and I made my Japanese phone into a Canadian phone when I was there, using a local number and debit card, rather than using the international roaming, which cost me $700 when I freely IM'ed on it a few summers ago mistakenly thinking I was spending ¥10 each time. I am used to paying about $30 for my cell phone as part of a family plan, and a few hundred to trade up every few years. That would come to about $400 a year or a buck and change a day. The iPhone is overpriced. Another problem is the camera. I take more pictures than I make phone calls. I would hate to go back to a 2 megapixel camera. 3G has been standard for years, and Softbank was recently the last carrier to get a majority of its customers onto 3G. Although my phone is is not a smartphone, it has features the iPhone doesn't have. For example, although most people never use videocalling, it has been standard for a while. Think about it this way: your cellphone absolutely must have video recording in case you find yourself witnessing a UFO crossing the sky, Bigfoot crossing the road, or the execution by hanging of Saddam Hussein, or let's say, the VP or prez by an angry mob. Still photos won't do. Being unable to send your sha-mail to other cellphones is also a leap about 5 years backwards. The battery stubbornness of Apple reminds me of the iPod. Please put the most standard rechargable battery in there and make it available in every convenience store. Next, being unable to cut and paste is like having your thumbs cut off. That's unacceptable even in a low-end cellphone except for the most basic grampa model. Any sort of customized dockings or connections would also kill the deal or make me pause. I also demand removable media. Micro SD cards (or MiniSD) are capacious, tiny, and cheap. Don't just leave us with no way to take more photos, a limit.

Apple could potentially make a killing in Japan, since many people want to replace their keitai every three months or so with something flashier. That's how I get my wife's year-old hand-me-downs free. But they are going to have to come up with a serious product based on the Japanese market if they want to compete. They should make their platform more open to invite more innovation, too.

What you are really left with in the iPhone is the well-integrated iPod, decent voice-mail handling, the touchscreen, and wi-fi connectivity. Not a bad start if they just didn't want to wait to enter the market. They did get attention. What they came up with may be OK in the US, but is far below the floor for competing in the keitai hothouse of Japan.

Last time I checked, the (Softbank) keitai that met my minimum requirements were the 904T (with GPS), 705NK, and 910T.

Some good points were made in this YouTube video from CNN.

No comments: