iPhone Mania Has Only Just Begun

by James R. Stoup Jul 02, 2007

A good friend of mine bought an iPhone on Friday and was kind enough to let me play with it during dinner last night. My initial reaction upon seeing it up close was that it is a lot smaller and thinner than I had imagined. That reaction, of course, was before I actually got to use it. Upon giving it to me, he didn’t need to explain anything, he didn’t rave about all it could do, he just let me stumble around and interact with it. After about two minutes I determined that I badly wanted an iPhone.

I would highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t yet actually touched one of these things (the videos don’t do it justice by a mile) immediately go out to an Apple store and look at a demo model. But be careful, there is a very good chance you will walk out of the store $499 (plus tax) poorer. I say this because it is impossible to appreciate how amazing this device is until you’ve actually held it. Remember how cool the original iPod looked beside that original crop of MP3 players? Remember that aura of “cool” that seemed to emanate from it? Well, the aura around the iPhone would put the Aurora Borealis to shame.

Playing with an iPhone, and using its incredibly intuitive touch sensitive interface, makes you feel like every SciFi show, movie, or book you’ve ever seen really could come true. Now, having only used it for 10 minutes I’m not claiming to be an expert, nor is this meant to be a review. Clearly I haven’t spent enough time with it to give a valid critique. What am I trying to say, though, is that I think the iPhone is going to be much bigger than most people think. And in the end it isn’t going to be the speed of the network, the cool features or great apps that really sell this thing, it is going to be the interface. And I know that most readers have probably heard something along those lines a dozen times now. How the interface is the big draw, the lure that will hook customers. Let me say again, you can’t really appreciate how true this is until you’ve actually used it.

I currently use Verizon. I’m 6 months into a two year Verizon contract. I can’t, in any reasonable way, justify spending $499 on a cell phone, especially when that money could be better spent on a much-needed laptop. In fact, I decided long ago that as great as the iPhone was, it really didn’t fit with what I needed right now. And now, sitting down at my computer writing this, none of those facts have changed. I still don’t need an iPhone. I still can’t afford one even if I could convince myself I “needed” one. And yet, sitting there last night and playing with it, I found myself thinking, “well, the Apple store is only about 8 minutes away. And they’re open till 9:30 p.m. and we should be done with dinner by 8:00 p.m. And $499 isn’t that expensive….”

I felt like Odysseus lashed to the mast, listening to the sirens. If Apple has ever released a product with as much sex appeal as the iPhone then I’ve never heard of it. It’s as if Steve Jobs has personally imbued each iPhone with a drop of his Reality Distortion Field. So maybe now you can understand my optimism when I say that I think iPhone mania has only just begun.

Right now, the biggest reason keeping me from getting an iPhone is the price. And I have no doubt that there are millions of consumers just like me who are quite happy to wait 6 months to see if the price goes down. And I don’t think the price drop needs to be significant either. Because half a year from now we should definitively know how good the iPhone really is. And if it’s truly as good as I think it will be, then I expect to see a second wave of first time buyers who will pick of an iPhone the moment the price drops. And here is another side of that coin: I expect cell phone purchases as a whole to slow down during the next year as people delay purchases so they can see how the iPhone fares.

Either way you look at it, this thing is going to be great for consumers because it will force the other major phone makers to step up and create better designs. Of course, before that happens they are going to get crushed while they scramble to come up with something that can realistically compete with the iPhone. For their sakes I hope they move quickly because the biggest advantage they have right now is price, and that is a temporary advantage at best. How long will the iPhone be an AT&T exclusive? Five years was it? Well, they are going to be the longest five years that Sprint and friends have ever known.


  • Although your 10 mins of impression with the now legendary (as far as hype is concerned) does not make a phenomenon, I do agree with your intuitions.

    I also am a Verizon (PDA) customer and being one with a pragmatic approach to mobile phones, I have decided to wait it out for much longer for a lower-priced edition with a HD-driven iPod vice the flash memories used. It just doesn’t hold my music library enough like my regular iPod can.

    I only want a phone that makes quality voice calls without drop-outs or degradations you experience sometimes with your GSM or CDMA cells. In this regard, I will wait for user praises and complaints over the next 6-12 months.

    Yeah, those other features such as Visual Voice Mail, iCal, real web in Safari, etc. can wait since I have a Macbook 13in and it is light enough to be mobile - for me.

    My CDMA PDA is Palm-based and adequate (for now) to be my mobile phone + contact management + occasional games.

    iPhone RDF, notwithstanding, I think the true revolution that the iPhone will have caused the mobile phone industry is the obsolescence of its stubborn practices of “hook-n-sinker” by virtue of low up-front costs from subsidies before you get hooked to a very expensive monthly fees over biannual contracts.

    If the real up-front cost of the iPhone drops as expected with the follow-up iterations, then we can say that it would be “Game Over”, indeed.

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 02, 2007 Posts: 846
  • I felt like Odysseus lashed to the mast, listening to the sirens.

    Beautiful writing, James.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 02, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • If you value your time, you will try and get rid of verizon. Note that at worst, at the end of two years, you still have a WIDESCREEN VIDEO IPOD - what is your current phone worth now or in 2 years?

    To get out of your contract, figure out where your phone ROAMS and just make calls from there - after a few days, Verizon will politely ask you to leave their service.

    jbelkin had this to say on Jul 02, 2007 Posts: 41
  • Quality of Service of a cell phone typically means 0% drop calls with 100% signal coverage where you roam 99% of the time.

    That would be Verizon in Southern Cal, for my case. I have tried Sprint and T*Mobile & ol’ Cingular (for my wife) and none of those can match my signal coverage as with Verizon’s 800MHz CDMA band. Your mileage may vary, surely.

    Having a very vivid widescreen iPod via the iPhone would be a whole lot better with more memory storage than 8GB. That would also mean the iPhone better have a file manager of some sort to manage that fat storage. For now, according to blogs, the iPhone will not store streamed videos but only “cached” temporarily then scuttled when exiting the application. Is this correct, all ye iFolks?

    Well, I can wait for better models that is fit for me…soon, I hope.

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 03, 2007 Posts: 846
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