Commentary

Me against the iPhone

  • by , January 15, 2007

Greetings and Salutations! Welcome to the first in a series of what I hope will be, if nothing else, entertaining sojourns through the glittering world of amateur media criticism. Presumably I have some level of media expertise that assigns my musings a value greater than narcissism and voyeurism, the two real powerhouses behind the Internet revolution, so I’m feeling pretty important. That said, let’s get to it…

I began writing with the intention of discussing Saddam Hussein’s execution - media coverage of it, the ethics of televising someone’s death, and all that. For research purposes, I watched it. I was neither incensed nor elated, not offended or enlightened. It was pretty much what I imagined. I was a little disappointed by the low production values – just a grainy cell phone video – but I suppose it would be harder to claim it was an unauthorized recording if the whole thing had been shot in HD. On a side note, I find it interesting that the Iraqi justice system can be so efficient when they don’t even have a functioning legislature. Political rambling aside, a pretty unpopular guy is no longer around. Moving on.

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I decided, instead, to focus on the real news story of the year thus far: the iPhone. If you haven’t already been bombarded by the onslaught of strategic media coverage, the iPhone is the latest unimaginatively-named product from Apple. It does…pretty much what you think it does, and so much more.

Interjection: there are some things you should know about my media habits before I proceed. I do not own a television. I may watch a grand total of 2-3 hours of TV per week when I’m with friends who are, in fact, real. Lest you think me a troglodyte, I get my entertainment from DVD’s and music. I am a music technologist – recording engineering, composition, and such – with web and journalistic background, so I spend most of the day using a computer in some capacity. Technology is generally my friend. However, I have real issues with gizmos created solely for the purpose of consumption that then feeds further consumption. Maybe I’ve seen “Fight Club” one too many times…

Back to the matter at hand: the iPhone. Ooo…so shiny! And look at all these capabilities! It plays music and videos, checks email, navigates with Google maps, and yes, even makes phone calls. Is it cool? Absolutely. Will I ever purchase one? I think not.

I’m not anti-Apple. I plan to by a MacBook Pro in the near future. However, I have some real problems with the iPhone. My first big issue is the price. Am I the only one who thinks that paying $500 (or $600 for the 8GB model) for a phone is absolutely ludicrous? I remember a happier time when they would throw in the phone to get you to buy the plan. Now they’ve figured out that all they have to do is add a ridiculous number of unneeded features so they can jack up the price and make you buy it separately. My phone was free, and I can call all of the same people as my friends with more expensive phones. Then again, I don’t TXT or PIX or any of that crap, because it’s really just as easy to call and speak to a real, live person.

I suppose part of the justification is that it plays music. I don’t have an iPod, and will probably never get one. I love music; I turn it on as soon as I get up in the morning, as soon as I get back from class, or any other time it’s possible for me to be listening. While I’m sure there are some people out there who use it as a tool, the iPod is a frightening example of the social retardation that seems to be gripping our culture. Oh, the Pod People, they’re terrifying. You’ve seen them everywhere; “I don’t have to meet new people. I have no interest in hearing the birds. I don’t have to listen to you, Mom and Dad, I’ve got my earbuds in. Jam on!” Those earbuds that are so terrible for your hearing that the EU required Apple to limit their maximum volume. Capable in some cases of reaching 120 dB, a typical iPod at 80% volume is safe for only 23 minutes, according to Harvard Researcher Brian Fligor. I actually find it amazing that no one has sued them over this. Then there’s the whole video-on-a-3-inch-screen idea. Sounds cool, and it is for about 2 days. Once the novelty wears off, you realize you could watch the same video at twice the resolution – for free – on your computer.

My other problem is that I just don’t like all-in-one devices. In my experience, the more complicated something gets, the more likely it is to fail. Not only that, but the next time you drop your phone in an amaretto sour – not that such a thing could ever happen to anyone – you’ve also blown up your iPod and a fully-functional computer. I have a phone and Palm Handheld, and I don’t really mind that they are two separate devices. When I go out at night – and I occasionally do, I swear – I ditch the Palm. What kind of nerd would carry this thing around all the time?

Despite the fact that it is completely unnecessary, the iPhone will be a commercial hit, because it’s from Apple, it’s what the people want, and it’s cool. Technology devices are replacing cars and clothes as the status symbol of our time – our new consumerist methadone. I’ll pass, thanks.

10 comments about "Me against the iPhone".
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  1. Robert Mauser, January 19, 2007 at 6:17 p.m.

    OK, I'm one of the media industry oldsters, but I still use an iPod. Never thought I needed one till I had one. Man, talk about "can't live without". And no, I don't walk around with the pods hanging in my ears, like my daughter so annoyingly does. I TRIED to do that when I first got it and my wife's evil eye quickly forced the purchase of a Bose Sound Dock for the kitchen. That we we can both listen to the iPod and still carry on a converastion. Just like with my old 8 component stereo system which mostly sits idle in the other room.

    About the iPhone: Too expensive and not enough room for my iPod songs. I'm perfectly happy with the free, super small mobile phone I got when I signed up for my service, thank you. It fits in all my pockets and if it gets dropped in a drink, sink or toilet, who cares? (Come on, you've all had to answer your phone in the restroom. It's those who MAKE calls while in there that concern me).

  2. Alivia Hunter, January 22, 2007 at 5:01 p.m.

    I was so excited about the iPhone when I first read about it and saw the oh so shiny phone. I thought for sure I would easily shell out a couple hundred… but $500 to $600!? Hell no! I’ve heard the iPhone is a lot more complicated than advertised and that is not something I need in my already complicated life. I’ve seen and read about the Onyx and I’ll wait for someone to come out with an Onyx clone at a reasonable price.

  3. Bill Walker from Integrated Media Cooperative, January 22, 2007 at 5:14 p.m.

    The Motorola RAZOR cost $500 when it first came out now you can get it for free or at a much more resonable price. Will I pay $500 for an iPhone , no, will I pay $85 next year maybe.

  4. John Selig from Selig Solutions, January 22, 2007 at 5:42 p.m.

    I too am a bit more seasoned (old fart of 54) than many of you but am a huge fan of Apple and of changing technology.

    I am a proud owner of both an iMac and an iPod. I love Apple products. they are both easy and fun to use, have great features and better than anything else on the market.

    I have followed the announcement of the new iPhone with much anticipation and excitement. I think Steve Jobs and Apple have hit a home run with this product. For those of you balking at the $500 and $600 price tag I certainly understand where you are coming from and I won't be purchasing one of the first generation iPhones. Keep in mind who Jobs is targeting them at. He is targeting the folks buying Blackberry's and the like. those of us balking at the price wouldn't purchase a Blackberry or one of its competitors either. However, if we did want a high-end phone, this blows everything else away both with its features, ease of use and cool factor.

    The good news is that the capabilities on this phone will improve quickly. 4 or 8 gig of storage needs to be expanded big time. I am sure it will be. And like Apple did with the iPod, less expensive models will, no doubt hit the market. Job's goal is to gain a 1% share of the mobile phone market in 2008. Once he gets the phone launched, I am sure that he isn't going to be happy just targeting the hi-end of the phone market. He will want to come out with products for the rest of us.

    I invite each of you to watch his keynote address which is on Apple's home page. The iPhone has over 200 patents. Many of the features have a great future on other Apple products. Fir example, scrolling is unbelievable and so is resizing photos, surfing the net. This product is so much more powerful and user friendly than anything out there.

    I hope that Apple scores big and that products that we can afford will be available quickly.

  5. Joseph Szala, January 22, 2007 at 6:03 p.m.

    Let's take a look at the poster child for convergence: The AmphiCar. Part boat, part car. How awesome! Except, it's not awesome. It was a bad car and a worse boat. Cue the iPhone. It's an MP3 player, phone, pda. Ooooh. Aahhhhh.

    Problem? My iPod is cheaper and holds tons of music. My Treo does its job superbly. To make a phone call, i simply dial. To listen to a song, I press play. iPhone just added steps to make it more difficult to do anything. It's neither a good MP3 player and it won't be as good as my Treo.

    People don't converge. One thing for one product has been a mainstay of the human mind. The iPhone will bomb.

    Starbucks has stayed true to their offering: coffee. Apple should stay true to its offering, superb technological break-throughs. Something new, not some piece of converged tripe.

    Oh yeah. It costs too much too.

    Try again Jobs.

  6. Jeff Beliveau, January 22, 2007 at 6:48 p.m.

    Typical Apple maneuver. Cram it full of things people will rarely if ever use and then claim they are doing you a "favor" by making it "so easy" for you.

    I love their latest commercial about video conferencing. How many busineeses REALLY use that feature? And I'll be damned if I let my kids turn on some webcam as they prowl through MySpace.

    But Apple knows better than you . You know who you are - the same people they think can't tie their shoes or make toast.

    Oh and did we mention that means you have to pay twice as much for what you really needed?

  7. Rachel Kesselman, January 22, 2007 at 10:39 p.m.

    I've been a fan of Apple for as long as I can remember. I've even turned many Ipods into portable presentation tools for our sales force with great success. Now with the introduction of the new Iphone, I'm excited but also kind of nervous for two reasons.

    1. Price - I agree with everyone above. It's ridiculous to pay that much for a phone, when you can get an Ipod with 10 times the storage space for a cheaper cost. And that cost doesn't even include the services fees, which I'm sure they'll figure a way to jack up before it's all said and done.

    2. Constant Connection - I've already been grounded from getting one of these new phones for myself, unless I get it for work. And to be honest I can understand why I was banned. In this new digital age we are starting to tread on constant connection that takes away from actual human interaction. I've found so many people you're having coffee with, in a business meeting, riding in a car next you or in a movie on their crackberries with no concern to the people around them (including the person you might be having coffee with or who rear ends you on the turnpike). My concern is that the Iphone will just blur the line even more...

    Although I'm excited about the possibilities the Iphone brings to the convenience of so many aspects of my life, I'm going to proceed with caution because I'm afraid we're becoming a slave to the technology.

  8. Josh, January 23, 2007 at 1 p.m.

    I'd be a lot more energetic about the iPhone if they weren't tethered to Cingular.

    Here are the issues I see with the product:

    1. Consumers are going to have to be filthy rich. Besides the price point of the phone (actually quite reasonable for a new gen PDA phone), you're looking at huge monthly fees from Cingular. We're talking $90 a month for the base package.

    2. Previous PDA users are going to be unsatisfied with the phone: it's not 3G, even though Cingular has a 3G capable network, so unless at a wi-fi access point, expect slow browsing; the keyboard is going to be small and unwieldy - you will not like typing without a tactile response.

    3. It's totally locked down to third party apps, and doesn't even use an IM client (it is restricted to SMS to force you to buy an unlimited SMS package from Cingular).

    If you're buying a phone in June, get a different one. If you want one comparable to the iPhone, I suggest the HTC Hermes - Cingular already has one as the 8525, and T-mobile should be getting one in the near future. Otherwise, just get a normal phone, and in a year or two, when the iPhone is on other networks and a 3rd gen product, pick one up and show it off to your friends. But in June, it's going to be an extremely unsatisfactory buy.

  9. car accident, April 13, 2007 at 10:32 a.m.

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  10. car donation, April 13, 2007 at 10:32 a.m.

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