Early iPhone 1.0 Reviews a Mixed Bag.

Posted in Mobile Search

http://www.aimclearblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/pj-ak475_pjmoss_20070626175439.jpgDon’t get me wrong. I’m excited about the iPhone and we believe that mobile devices empowered with more serious (and simple) operating systems will further propel the the mobile revolution which is already well underway.

I’m certain our company will own future iPhone models and frankly I can’t wait. The iPhone raises the bar in a way that will fuel competition between convergence device manufacturers to the benefit of search and civilization. For now Apple has seen fit not to offer the iPhone in our home-market (like may others) which is a double edged sword discussed later in this post.

Still, Many are Waiting.
Most of our friends and associates are waiting for version 2.0. Their hesitation is born out as prescient in early reviews. The New York Times reports that “much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it’s flawed. It’s substance; it’s style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones. ”

PC Magazine writes
“It’s the best portable media player ever. It’s possibly the most fun we’ve ever had with a handheld device. It browses the Web like a champ. Yet as a voice phone and a messaging device, it’s a loser. The iPhone is full of contradictions.”

AT&T is a Consensus Low Band Wireless Provider.
Why on earth did Apple pick AT&T? In survey after survey, AT&T/Cingular ranks at or near the bottom of the barrel for mobile service. New York Times writer David Pogue wrote “If Verizon’s slogan is, ‘Can you hear me now?’ AT&T’s should be, ‘I’m losing you.’” Early indications bear AT&T’s reputation out as true including nightmarish anecdotes about long activation times.

The Wall Street Journal reported
that Apple first negotiated with Verizon to offer the iPhone exclusively but Verizon refused to cede Apple complete control. Apple then cut a deal with AT&T, a company which so desperately needs to bolster it’s flagging market share that they were amenable to giving Apple CEO Steve Jobs whatever control he wanted. At least from our perspective AT&T’s slow network makes the iPhone impracticable even in it’s revolutionary beauty.

Slow Data and Insecure Connections
Apple tooled this build of the iPhone to only function with AT&T/Cingular’s turtle-speed EDGE data network. It’s only slightly faster than your old 56K modem. Considering that smartphone Internet on Verizon and Sprint’s “fast” EVDO networks is still relatively slow and unreliable, AT&T’s network is downright untenable. It seems kind of ironic that the first mobile device truly savvy to multi-media accesses such a slow mobile network.

Who care about the iPhone’s fancy web capabilities if you have to wait forever for downloads? Though the integrated WiFi does make the iPhone an Internet rocket ship when in range, most of us buy convergence devices for when we’re not in range of WiFi. We need to be able to run our servers or download email attachments when we’re stuck in traffic. Security vulnerabilities are still unclear but IT administrators are concerned that the iPhone won’t be as safe for corporate networks as the BlackBerry.

Users Can’t Change the Battery.
Anyone who actually depends on a convergence device for email, web, calendar, messaging, pictures, video, or document editing knows that having extra batteries on hand is important-no matter how advanced the power management on the device is. I’m totally screwed when my smartphone runs out of juice. Though the battery life is impressive at 8 hours, the iPhone does not allow for users to swap out the battery. After an estimated 400 charges (3200 hours or 3 months for me) the battery is expected to begin failing at which time the only option is to send it back to Apple to replace it for a yet-to-be determined cost. Did I mention that AT&T is unwilling to sell it’s usual cell phone insurance for iPhones? How’s that for a corporate vote of confidence in the hardware.

Stupid Phones
All in all we’ve been living through a terrible generation of smart phones. Marketing spin outpaces actual increased value of new mobile handset tools. With smartphones these days it seems like we have to sacrifice important features to get next-gen tools and hype outpaces reality.

The Treo 650 was the best convergence device of the day but it’s famous flop-replacements (700W and 700P) were major disappointments because Bluetooth didn’t work. Windows Mobile OS is so “smart” these days that it’s nearly impossible to get anything done with wacky combinations of multiple buttons to accomplish simple things.

The Motorola Q is like Google analytics-less expensive, idiosyncratic, and deep in limited ways. I hate my Q but at least I can get basic things done like pull down large attachments, stream The Daily Searchcast, read the news, run my analytics server, or AIM with my kids. These tasks require bandwidth and stability, features the AT&T network lack.

<rant>Apple Hates Duluth (and other markets too).
What is this AT&T only crap? Even if it made any sense at all for our company to switch from Sprint and Verizon to AT&T right now, we couldn’t because there is no AT&T provider in Duluth. AT&T just purchased Cellular One who has a local presence and that will bring AT&T products to Duluth sometime in the future but forget it for the near-term. Hey we’re not that small a city for Minnesota. We have roughly 85,000 folks that live here, a vital web-commerce community, decent size universities, and lots of IT professionals.

Duluth apparently does not rate as important to Apple and wasn’t even on the business- model-radar for the iPhone launch. I know at least 7 Duluth businesses that are chapped at Apple’s snub. The good news (if you can call it that) is that we wouldn’t switch to AT&T wireless even if the iPhone was available here because the AT&T data network is notoriously inferior for any sort of professional use.

Fine, if Apple hates Duluth Minnesota than at least we can skip the silly lines around the block to order the latest greatest thing and call it what it is-premature hype for an imperfect solution. We’ll give our mobile dollars to Sprint and Verizon and use phones that work already on networks that are respected and robust. Though I look forward to replacing all of our Treos and Q’s with iPhones we can’t consider it until the iPhone is available on other networks. </rant>

Resources:
Walt Mossberg – The Wall Street Journal

David Pogue – The New York Times

Steven Levy – Newsweek

Edward Baig – USA Today

Apple iPhone (4GB) Reviews. Smart phones Reviews by CNET.

Apple iPhone Review by PC Magazine – Review by PC Magazine

The iPhone: Two reviews, one conclusion

Digg – Roundup: Apple iPhone Reviews

http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/06/my-iphone-revie.html

http://wapreview.com/blog/

http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/

http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/06/early_iphone_re.html

http://bmannconsulting.com/blog/bmann/mossberg-iphone-review-no-sim-card-cdma-only

  • Dan

    Hi Marty,

    I bought a new cell phone last week. Because I live in Duluth it was not an iPhone. Unless iPhone becomes usable on Verizon networks it will now be two years before i buy one… that is how long my new contract lasts. I really liked my iPod but now i am also using my new Verizon phone as my default mp3 player as well. Looks like at least two years before i consider going back to my iPod too. Ironically, while is was a difficult decision at the time, it was good thing I held off on that new Mac Laptop. My new Dell D420 seems to sync better with my new Verizon phone. I was technologically adrift and wanted to join the Apple cult. It seems like a lot of cool people are members. But I guess living in northern Minnesota we are just a little too geeky for Apple. Apparently, Apple wants more of a mainstream user. It is kind of like when Oakley sunglasses were cool, but then you saw your mom wearing them and you knew something had changed. This has now happened to Apple… the comers own an Apple, the Players own a Nokia N95. But, hey it was a marketing/business decision and Apple will make a lot of money in the next few years selling to the mainstream. We should not expect Apple to sacrifice their stock price to support lonely geeks living out here on the bloody frontier.

    Best regards,

    Dan

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks for contributing to this thread Dan. You’re funny…and have excellent perspective. Welcome to aimClearBlog.

    Marty