The iPhone Commeth

by James R. Stoup Dec 18, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now official. I no longer care whether or not Apple releases an iPhone. Today, tomorrow, five years from now, it doesn’t matter, I don’t care. A year ago I cared very deeply. A month ago I cared enough to read all of the blog posting. A week ago I cared enough not to gouge out my eyes with an ice pick. But today I officially do not care at all. I have been over saturated with iPhone mania.

These non-stories are all about the most hyped product to never exist. It would be different, I suppose, if Apple would just come out and say “yeah, we’re working on it, so suck on it cell phone dudes.” Then at least there would be something we could hang our hats on, but no, they haven’t even done that. And still the circus that has surrounded this nonexistent product is mind blowing. Imaginary specs are dreamed up, fanciful scenarios are put forward as facts, drawings and other mock ups roam free, like rapid gazelles on the serengeti of the web, and still the lunacy refuses to stop.

This, of course, begs the question, why? Why has all of this hype been generated? And by whom? I don’t think its just Mac Fanatics who are making all this noise, I think there are quite a few Windows users who would sure like to see Apple roll out an iPhone.

But to try and answer my own question here is my best guess as to why all of this hype has arisen. Here comes the logic:

Apple makes iPod
iPod = easy to use
iPod = good
Apple makes iPhone (you hope)
iPhone = easy to use
iPhone = good

So, I can only assume that there exists a large percentage of population who would be willing to give ANY phone that Apple makes a try based solely on their reputation. Remember, this isn’t like buying another Nokia phone because you liked the last one so much. What we are seeing is a whole lot of people begging Apple to make a phone, any phone, just so they can use it.

Now why would this be the case? Remember, the cell phone industry is fairly mature. There are numerous providers offering hundreds of different phones. There is choice if nothing else in this industry. Oh, it still sucks pretty hard in every measurable area, but at least there’s lots of ways to suck.

And yet, in spite of all this choice people seem quite willing to give Apple a try. I can only conclude that most people (myself included) are unsatisfied with their current cell phones. So, instead of speculating on what Apple could to to capture market-share, why not take a look at some current issues within this grand industry.

    Things that need to be fixed
  1. Hardware - there is some aspect to every phone I have ever used that I passionately hate, no one gets it all right (most don’t even come close)
  2. Software - the only thing worse than the design of the hardware is the design of the software, “ease of use” isn’t high on their to-do list
  3. Billing - after being a loyal Sprint customer for almost 2 years I was charged $200 for terminating my contract 2 months early. guess who will never use Sprint so long as his lungs draw breath?
  4. Support - (foreign accent + bad attitude) * incompetent sales staff = lost customer

Now, I realize that designing something as great as the iPod is hard, greatness is always difficult. But how about making something that is at least functional? Here are some examples. My wife used to have a cell phone that didn’t have external buttons to change the volume. What. The. Hell? To adjust the volume you had to access a menu. Think about how stupid this is. You are having a conversation when suddenly you decide you can’t hear the person. You now have to take the phone away from your ear, access a menu, set the volume, put the phone back up to your ear, determine if further adjustments are necessary, and repeat as needed. This brilliant design apparently beat out the old “put the damn volume buttons on the side of the phone” approach.

I have experienced a voice dialing system designed by a deaf mute. I have had the joy of attempting to press buttons that were made for elves. Or maybe my favorite was a voice memo feature that took almost 10 seconds from the time you first pressed the required button till the time you were able to record. This some what reduces the usefulness of an “instant” recording. Unless of course by “instant” you mean “10 second delay”. And lets not even get started with the sales and support side of things. I have no doubt that everyone who reads this post could provide their own cellphone horror story.

All this angst we all experience is probably why there is so much hype around the iPhone. Each of us have horror stories around the usability and design of our cellphones. Apple, save us. Now.


  • You can relax, because the iPhone name was trademarked by Cisco back in 2000, when they bought into the fledgling world if VoIP. This week, it appears, they finally released a product with that name attached. So an iPhone is already out in the wild. Apple will have to name theirs something else (if they ever even produce such a thing.)

    tao51nyc had this to say on Dec 18, 2006 Posts: 45
  • I could not care less about the hype either, but I am totally with you. The market needs to see a highly functional phone that just works and is both very ergonomic and aesthetic. We here tend to have one additional demand and that is “have it work well with the Mac”. Seemingly, people believe that only Apple is able to deliver this kind of product.
    I for one want a phone that pays attention to both Addressbook groups and iCal calendars, and that will not drop new items from the phone in just a single “from the phone” calendar. If it plays music, fine, but that is not what I want it for. I want a phone that is not released before the software is stable and marketing that does not boast yesterday’s technology as if it were milk and honey. 802.11b my exhaust, Sony Ericsson.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 18, 2006 Posts: 371
  • Apple. Google. Orange.
    Now that I’m excited by.

    A great apple phone would be, well, great. But a great apple phone with google advertising driven subsidy and servies would be a serious piece of awesomecake.

    Benji had this to say on Dec 18, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Apple will not be releasing an iPhone any time soon - the name is rubbish, the idea is rubbish (we’ve already got a good bunch of phones and a lovely MP3 player already on the market, no need to get the two to make babies now is there?). I think anyone who ever got excited about this stupid rumour is seriously kidding themselves (love ya, James wink).

    Haha. Great article though.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Dec 19, 2006 Posts: 104
  • Aaron, please name me a single “good phone”. I would like to calibrate my idea of “good” as it seemingly is off the scale.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 19, 2006 Posts: 371
  • Ah sorry, misread, you did not state there were any good ones, just a good number.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 19, 2006 Posts: 371
  • So you broke a contract early which you signed in good faith, and are angry that Sprint held you to your end of the deal??

    I don’t like ETFs either, but you signed the contract…

    TexasAg03 had this to say on Dec 19, 2006 Posts: 17
  • The Motorola Razr is nice, and the Blackberry Pearl is positively good.

    But on a more serious note, Apple will be forced to charge around a minimum of $300 dollars for the phone, or risk destroying it’s Ipod cash-cow. And $300 dollars is a lot of money to ask someone to pay for a phone, particularily when they already have an MP3 player. I’m sorry, but the manic optimism of Mac fanatics seems misplaced.

    simo66 had this to say on Dec 19, 2006 Posts: 78
  • The iteration of the Razr I have seen doesn’t even differentiate between first and last names. The Pearl (gee, it seems as though one can finally buy it from places other than T-Mobile…) lacks WLAN and doesn’t sync without additional software, plus from what I read the process is rather sketchy -this would be sth. I’d love Apple Matters to review by the way.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 20, 2006 Posts: 371
  • Otherwise the Pearl admittedly *is* nice.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 20, 2006 Posts: 371
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