The iEvolution of a Text-Free Technosaur

  • by , Featured Contributor, September 17, 2009
Don Seaman and iphoneCall me iDon. I am a changed man. I know, because there's an app for that.

That's right, I bought an iPhone. What a radical change -- call me an eventual adopter.

This late-to-the-game thing is not new to me. I have yet (here in late-ish 2009) to send a text message. Ever. Yes, technosaurs exist.

So I purchased my iPhone for two reasons. First, a certain national leader in network coverage does not cover my new home neighborhood. We are in an isolation bubble, our own Cone of Silence. So off we went to another provider's brick and mortar to change our cell phone service.

The second reason for taking the iPlunge was a feeling of Media Responsibility. I'd had a medium-generation BlackBerry (far from original, but still about the size of a toaster oven), so I was used to the idea of having my email and a browser with me 24/7. But this was different.



I would now be able to see what the hype was all about, to browse through apps, to play mobile video (yes, I know BlackBerries can do this as well, along with others, but I'm justifying here, OK?), and so much more!

That's right --- the iPhone would allow me to finally achieve the long-impossible dream of owning my own tricorder.

Truth be told, it didn't take much prodding for me to go right to the iPhone. I'm a guy -- I want the toy. That's the simplicity of the species. We all want the flying car and the robot maid. If George Jetson wasn't so dated, he'd want the iPhone himself.

Ah, but then there's the reality of owning an iPhone.

Post-BlackBerry, the email makes me long for snail mail. The salesman (let's call him my enabler) told us that for business, the BlackBerry is the way to go because of its real-time "push" technology, which allows you to get emails faster, sometimes, as they are being written. So far, the emails I get from my iPhone are alerting me that we still need more players for our softball game tonight, which was played in 2002.

But since I still have a corporate BlackBerry, I'm not as concerned with the timeliness of my emails. It's an iPhone, after allb-- so shouldn't that be the crux of it? Well, I've had it for nearly five days now, and I have yet to place or receive a call, so no.

My sales-enabler told me, as part of his barely necessary sales pitch, that my 16GB iPhone would probably hold somewhere like 3,400 songs. Apparently, his sales pitch didn't include how many TV programs it would hold -- much more relevant for a TV professional such as myself. But I'd have to assume that it wouldn't be 3,000+.

And I had to wonder if there was any way to equate the number of shows you could store with the impact of the genre -- 10 reality shows to every procedural, 75 sitcoms to one playoff game, a season of "The Jay Leno Show" to each original cable drama. What's the storage/quality conversion factor?

But the true lure of the iPhone isn't the email, or the phone, or the iPod. The shiny things of the iPhone are the trapps. Sorry -- apps. These insidious little programs make your iPhone into the most expandable Swiss Army Knife imaginable (see sidebar below).

This is the Gold Rush for companies that want to personally connect with their consumers -- i.e., nearly everyone who has a product or a business. It's no longer news that there are, quite literally, thousands of apps that consumers can download. So far, I'm limiting myself to free apps, because while the 99-cent average price tag for an app is appealing, it can become like Costco -- you start stocking up on apps that you don't need because they're "only" a buck, and you come out with a $500 receipt for things you'd never reasonably consider on the outside.

So while my media platform curiosity is building, it caused me to think about that from a user perspective -- who really needs all of these apps, anyway? TV fragmentation isn't enough; we need smartphone fragmentation now?

Full disclosure -- I'm not a complete technavoider. I was a reasonably early adopter of TiVo. I understand the power of harnessing media for use on your own time. I'm sure that apps will allow me to do that, but I have to wonder if they're more of a thief of my time than a contributor to it.

Where TiVo allowed me to find programs that I would be interested in watching, apps are programs that I might be interested in using. The only difference is that while TiVo is helping to deliver content, apps are the content. McLuhan would have an iPhone. Apps are less about the programs that TiVo delivers, but more akin to the TiVo showcases. They're engagement opportunities, wrapped in nifty mini content.

Essentially, what I've done is purchase a promotional device that plays music and theoretically can be used as a personal communications device. Now I just have to figure out how to work the thing before it needs to be upgraded. If there are any techno-paleontologists who would like the opportunity to study a living gadget fossil, I'm willing. Just tell me how to use it. Don't bother texting me -- I'm not completely evolved yet, after all.

Jane, start this crazy thing!

Where Are These iPhone Apps?

The Home Surgery App: This one really saved my bacon before my appendix burst. A marked improvement over the Band-Aid app, which always fell off right away.

The Drunk Dial App: No more embarrassing "mornings after" with this built-in breathalyzer/keyboard lock.

The Sham-no! App: Your iPhone takes a detailed inventory of all your possessions (this can be set to initially run overnight) and automatically locks the "Buy Now" button on any shopping site if it's just something that you really don't need right now.

The C3 App: The iPhone will average all the time you've shifted from work to play with sponsored apps over a three-day period. This app will only be available three weeks after you need it.

The "-dar" App: Set it to your own particular prejudice and it will alert you when you wander too far from your personal comfort zone.For those with multiple issues, you can set custom ringtones to keep your paranoia organized.

The Opt-Out App: The "rescue" app, which, when active, will allow you to gracefully pull out of any uncomfortable situation -- unwanted sales calls, bad dates and awkward conversations with a drunken aunt at the family table of a boring wedding. It also rescues you from frequent shopper programs, interminable product surveys and focus groups and marginal Facebook friends you regret accepting. Once loaded, the only way to delete this app involves registered mail and a lengthy appeals process.

The "You Lie" App: Increase your "Q" score with this socially aggressive app that senses when there's a high amount of cameras and microphones in the area, then shouts inappropriate interjections toward the area of media concentration. Also look for the Kanye App, which is typically used by younger iPhone owners, but also quietly broadcasts an apology ringtone when the "contrition" sub-app is engaged.

The "Rememberish" App: Designed primarily for business functions, Rememberish will help marketers track which apps are most popular and how much they're used. Available for consumer use on a one use per-year basis, it opens a blank memo pad where users enter every app that a member of the household had used during the previous calendar year, where they were when they used it, for how long (HH:MM:SS) and how many times. This app is open to all users outside of NY and LA. For those users, they can download the iTelepath app, which tracks which apps each individual uses on a real-time basis, tracked by sensing DNA left on the touchscreen, including newborns who brush across iPhones dropped into cribs by clumsy dads.

The "Shy Peacock" App: This app was one of the first and most successful apps available, but its dominance has waned lately. This experimental 2.0 version of the app will push mildly engaging, inexpensive content to the iPhone five times a week, while the other sponsored apps kick its ass. Expect this app to receive a short burst of downloads followed by a quick deletion, while the developer releases a statement that this was the new business model all along and that it considers it a runaway success.

1 comment about " The iEvolution of a Text-Free Technosaur".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Don Seaman from Wayne Lifestyle Magazine, September 18, 2009 at 3:45 p.m.

    UPDATE -

    During my brutal 3-hour commute last night, I attempted to call home to let my wife know I'd be delayed. I did this somewhere between 15-20 times, all at various points of geography, chalking it up to a "dead zone."

    Well, I never did get a dial tone - not even at home, where the coverage was reported to be good.

    I'm now convinced that the iPhone is a sentient being, one that downloaded the "Silent Treatment" app, which disables the coverage if you defame the iPhone publicly.

    Great. I used to be able to just have a beer with my Blackberry and we'd be good. Now I have to download the Humble Apology app. Man, iPhone relationships are hard work!

Next story loading loading..