The Apple Way
You don’t have to love Apple. Hell, not everyone does; their too-hip-for-their-own-good Macintosh computers and iPod music players often get a sour reaction from those who still call a large cup of coffee a “large” instead of a “venti”. Consumer Report magazine may have claimed that no company enjoys a greater degree of consumer loyalty than Apple… but has never once said that those people are not crazy. Be that as it may, Apple’s iPhone is the golden child of the mobile phone industry right now. The little device that brings the Apple look and feel to mobile devices has nothing to prove in terms of sales or critical acclaim. The explosive zero-day release was a testament to its impact (who didn’t see photos of iPhone zealots in lines-around-the-block that day?) and the future of this device only looks brighter than its birth.
Today, we’re going to look at the iPhone in retrospect. That’s right… despite only a handful of days behind it, the iPhone has come a long way. QuicklyBored lends its eye to the mobile phone from Apple and gives an overview of what we have come to learn about it… as well as a nice, long look at its potential as the be-all and end-all of mobile game devices.
What gives the iPhone its mojo is that it’s not really like any other device you can buy today. In fact, Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal calls it a “handheld computer” rather than a phone, and that makes a lot of sense once you take the internet, media and productivity functions of the device into account (and let’s not forget its sweet deal with YouTube.com, a site which is the very siren call for time-wasting one normally only associates with their PC). Whether or not the world is ready for a device which goes so far off the beaten “mobile phone” path is really a non-question; sales on launch day crested half a million units sold, and carrier AT&T obviously heard that train comin’ because they hired 2,000 new salespeople just to handle the influx of customers on launch day. Folks, we’re talking about a mobile phone (device, computer, whatever) which is so popular that local law enforcement was placed at several of the AT&T outlets in case the masses got out of control. If sheer masses showing up to get their iPhone counts for anything, it’s safe to say the world is ready for the phone-that-isn’t-just-a-phone. What’s more, the future of the iPhone doesn’t appear to be any dimmer than it’s debut: Businessweek Magazine predicts Apple will enjoy $10 billion from the iPhone by 2009 (which would put outstrip current mobile phone high-seller, the Motorola RAZR, in half the time it took the RAZR to hit the same figures), and Apple itself estimates 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008 will go out the door. With mobile phone use world-wide expected to pass 3 billion by the end of the year, the scene appears to be set for the iPhone to do what it came here to do.
People wouldn’t be showing up in droves if they didn’t expect the iPhone to be a winner and, for the most part, reviewers agree that it is one. The Wall Street Journal says “We have been testing the iPhone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions”, and the New York Times’ David Pogue was equally impressed, but made room for reservations as well: “As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; itâ€™s flawed. Itâ€™s substance; itâ€™s style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones.”
The flaws of the iPhone may be more glaring when compared to the long list of its accomplishments. Never the less, three criticisms seem to surface in most iPhone reviews: The battery-life, the touch-screen, and most consistently damned of all… AT&T and its EDGE technology.
Battery life of the iPhone is almost universally cited as being less than Apple says it would be (this seems to be a chronic problem with Apple, who tend to publicly over-estimate the battery life in their Macintosh laptops and iPods). Pogue mentions this point, citing that “Apple says one battery charge is enough for 8 hours of calls, 7 hours of video or 24 hours of audio. My results werenâ€™t quite as impressive: I got 5 hours of video and 23 hours of audio, probably because I didnâ€™t turn off the phone, Wi-Fi and other features, as Apple did in its tests.” What seems to scare people even more, however, is that the battery itself will eventually lose capacity (Apple states this happens after 300 or 400 charges) and will have to be replaced… for a fee. This issue seems to be something of a paper tiger, to be honest, as it could take between two to four years to charge an iPhone that many times, and few high-tech devices rarely make it that long without being replaced. Only time will tell if this is a bigger problem than it appears at present.