iPhone or iHype?

This post is a bit off topic from what I normally talk about, but being a fan of various “social networking” platforms including blogs, podcasts and the like I feel a need to speak out about a certain insanity that occurred. Last week Apple released its new model of the iPhone, and the internet went nuts. Podcasts devoted extended coverage, blogs were gushing, internet news sites went wall to wall with coverage. Let me interject a thought here – folks, it’s just a cell phone!

Now, before the Apple fan-boys come out of the wood work to attack me, my beef is not with the iPhone itself. It’s a nice enough phone, has a lot of decent features, and even I will admit it looks very nice. But feature wise it’s not revolutionary; there are other cell phones on the market that have similar sets of features. No, my beef is more with the coverage. Leo Laporte over on http://twitlive.tv did 24 hour coverage. CNet Live did a two hour version of their show; CNet’s news show likewise had multiple episodes centered on the iPhone. What?

I have to really question this. If any of the other cell phone companies released a phone, it might get a segment which would be fine, but not wall to wall coverage. But stick a logo of a half eaten piece of fruit on it and BAM the web goes nuts. I’m not alone in my weariness of the coverage either, on Mondays’ Buzz Out Loud from CNet even Tom Meritt said “I’m so sick of talking about it I throw up a little bit in my mouth every time I say it”. (Then he showed a cool video of someone dropping an iPhone in a blender.) Perhaps it’s just the cranky geek in me, but I just don’t get it. iPhone? Sounds more like iHype to me.

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13 Responses to “iPhone or iHype?”

  1. brento Says:

    Okay, first, I’m a real SQL Server DBA who actually uses a Macbook Pro, so I won’t even voice my own opinion. Instead, I’ll give the opinion of my girlfriend.

    Erika hates electronic gear. She’s in a non-IT job, doesn’t like computers, and doesn’t use them in her spare time. I’ve always had Windows Mobile phones, and she would refuse to use them, instead opting for simpler Sonys or Motorolas. When I got an HTC 8125, she said it looked like whoever designed it was really angry, because nobody mellow would design a device like that.

    We took a cross-country road trip last year, and while I was driving, she spent an hour or so playing with my iPhone. She surfed the web, played movies, used the maps to find hotels, and so on. By the end of the first hour, she said, “Okay, I want one of these.” It was so easy to use, intuitive, and enjoyable that it won her over. I hadn’t said a word the whole time, either, because me selling her on anything technical is impossible.

    The iPhone isn’t revolutionary for guys like you and me, because we’re willing to put up with a lot of flaky UI stuff just to get what we want. We write SQL scripts – enough said there. But it’s revolutionary for non-IT people like Erika who want a device that’s really enjoyable to use, and yet powerful at the same time.

    • Jay Says:

      Sure, but when I think of all the things my old WinMo phone did and new Andriod does, I disagree the word ‘powerful’ can be used with iPhone, or the new iPad.

      Besides, the Andriod interfaces have greay UIs now too – Apple should at least be a tad nervous, especially when ‘real’ tablets come out shortly after the dumbed-down iPad.

      Apple really gets more iHype than it deserves, especially since while its tyrant CEO continues to dictate what you can and can’t do.

  2. Anthony Handley Says:

    Agreed that Apple’s hype machine has been in overdrive. But for a company selling cool consumer electronics, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    Your assertion that “it’s just a cell phone” misses the mark a bit. Apple is pushing this as a computing platform. Smartphones in general are more computer then phone these days. The ability for a mobile device to place phone calls is almost secondary to other functions and features.

  3. arcanecode Says:

    I will grant the fact it’s a smart phone, but there are plenty of other smart phones on the market. Nor was this even the first one from Apple, it’s the version 2. So why all the hype over version 2 of a device?

    • Jay Says:

      Exactly. I tend to think of Apple making toys instead of computers these days. Toys you can’t upgrade unless you pay all over again for the next version a year later.

  4. Nermin Says:

    The thing is that I had a Windows Mobile SmartPhone (Cingular 8125 – the one with sliding keyboard), and I am sorry to say that device does not even compare to the iPhone 2.0. You can not call both things “Smart Phone”, and place them in the same category.

    iPhone simply works, it is easy to use, and by far exceeds my expectations.

    For example email. It took me a minute to set it up to Sync with my Exchange server,and sync my contacts, calendar and all of the mail folders. With windows mobile it was hours. With iPhone I was able to setup my Gmail access in another minute – with windows mobile phone I gave up on gmail after a while.

    Everything on this phone/computer is simple, easy to use or find. UI is extremely helpful – no user manual needed. Extending iPhone with custom apps is a breeze.

    Just try out usineg a web browser on iPhone and you will realize that there is nothing else on the market that allows you to view sites and read your full emails on the phone the way that I phone does.

    The thing is that people at Apple seemed to focus on functionality and usability of their UI, while designing and at the same time MS folks focused more on limitations, which hampered their creativity.

    Also take a look at the keyboard. I expected a lousy touch screen keyboard and horrible experience after Windows mobile phone that had a slide out keyboard. IPhone has the hands down best keyboard of all compact devices.

    Then when you add features like GPS – that is not far from my Nuvi (Garmin), iTunes, Youtube, Media management, Network support (3G, WiFi, ActiveSync). There are no phones that do all that.

    So all of you that say – “What is the big deal?” should really borrow their friends iPhone for 5 minutes and discover that for themselves.

    Myself, being in MS camp for my whole life (and software consultant in ms world) have an opinion that what Apple has done with iPhone is revolutionary – it will change the world!

    • Jay Says:

      Revolutionary, just like the iPad right?

      MS limitations? Apple focused on functionality? You have not done your homework I’m afraid.

      I will agree MS’s UI was a joke, but at least I could browse ALL of the web, create (not just edit) common Office documents, oh, and speaking of limited functionality…install whatever I wanted without having to ask Steve’s permission first!

      Now, with Andriod making a big push and HP creating true tablets with either Andriod or a full Win7 OS, plus no need to buy adapters for things such as USB, cameras, etc., there will surely be some very sad iPad owners.

  5. Dougal Says:

    On the one hand, I agree that the hype might have been overblown. I think part of the reason for the attention was the addition of features like Exchange integration, which pushed the iPhone from a “popular with the masses” device, to a device that corporations might consider standardizing on.

    On the other hand, I have to say that I really like my iPhone. Even though it’s the 1st generation hardware. I just wish that Apple would beef up the Bluetooth stack. It would be nice to be able to tie an external GPS to my iPhone. And the lack of A2DP stereo headphone support is practically criminal for an iPod, IMHO. :)

  6. TomM Says:

    This is what I find brilliant and unique about the iPhone:
    – Apple’s first cellular device
    – Apple’s first GPS
    – Apple’s first accelerometer
    – Apple’s first step into the enterprise (with ActiveSync)
    All these first’s, and yet they are 95% of the way up with the age old leaders in all these areas. Sure, there are some cool features on Windows Mobile you won’t find on the iPhone, but Microsoft had as many years as Apple had MONTHS to get there.
    Also, their first cell phone is immediately the market leader where ever they release it. Market share, and the fact that they’ve rolled out the red carpet to developers, will bring all kinds of new functionality.
    Apple takes a slice of the pie by selling us the device, selling us songs to play on it (that other people have written), selling us programs to run on it (that other people have written), getting their foot into the enterprise (which will also bring interest in Macs), etc. Brilliant.

  7. jiimiona Says:

    I’m sold :)) +1

  8. Jeff Lewis Says:

    I own an iPhone 2 and I’ve been a Mac developer (17 years) and Windows developer (20+ years) and Unix (30+ years). I’m a major gadget/toy geek. There. That gets the credentials out of the way.

    The iPhone is a good phone. It has *some* features that are ahead of the curve. BUT…

    I happen to agree with arcanecode on this one.

    TOMM – those are firsts for *Apple* – but that alone doesn’t make them newsworthy. Many of those features already exist in other phones. I think Arcanecode’s point is that no one else gets the kneejerk coverage Apple does.

    Your argument that Apple had months to get there is silly on two counts. First, they didn’t have just months. No company builds a hardware product and gets it to market in ‘months’. Apple’s been working on the iPhone for years. That being said, Apple is building on the work everyone had put into building phones. I can assure you, Apple didn’t just invent all the chips and tech in there – they went shopping. Apple doesn’t even *build* the iPhone – they hired FoxConn in China to do that.

    Where Apple wins is that the take a powerful device, minimalise it and then lock it down so you can’t fiddle with it. They do a good job of making an end-to-end experience – but only as long as you don’t need anything more than they offer.

    And then there’s a lot of media forgiveness on real problems with Apple products that they don’t give to other companies. Case in point, you can’t select text with the iPhone, so if you have a long bit of text you want to delete – you have to delete it character by character. No one talks about that, yet it comes up all the time when you’re using it.

    If Microsoft set up an App Store similar to the one for the iPhone, people would be screaming blue murder. Apple does it and it’s ‘innovative’ and ‘clever’. That being said – Microsoft DID do it first – for the XBox 360 Live system.

    There’s a real double standard at work when it comes to Apple and it’s the result of terribly shabby journalism.

  9. Apple Developer Says:

    Wow are you are SOOO bitter that you not part of this new fantastic tech revolution lead by Apple. That maybe explains why you haven’t made a comment about Apple since 2008, eating your words perhaps? LOL, just look at the success of IOS and the great devices… Cough cough, shall we talk about the lovely reliable Windows phones ? Basically have no market share, no apps and are pieces of crap.

    Sorry buddy, perhaps you should start with C and then ObjC and C++, you would be a lot happier. As they say, if you can’t beat em…

    Peace!
    love Apple

    • arcanecode Says:

      I haven’t made a comment as from 2008 until they released the iPad in 2010 they hadn’t done anything “new and revolutionary” worth commenting about, just new versions of the iPhone. Their release of new Mac laptops/PCs has been evolutionary, but hardly revolutionary. Besides, if you bothered to read the post, my gripe was not with Apple’s products but with the media, who were prostating themselves at Apples doorstep.

      The new Windows 7 phones ARE lovely and reliable. And that’s not just me, if you listen to various tech pundits such as those on Buzz Out Loud they have said the Win 7 Phones are a sharp looking device with a nice interface. The apps are certainly not to the level the iPhone has but it’s been out a relatively short time since the phone was released.

      I already know how to program in C and C++. I’ve looked at the programming tools though for doing Apple coding and they are crap compared to what I have in the form of Visual Studio for doing my VB.Net and C# coding. I also know PowerShell, T-SQL, the various tools in SQL Server such as SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS. I even know some PHP. I’m happy with the coding tools and languages I have, thanks.

      I’ll reiterate a point I made before. Apple makes good hardware. Since I wrote the original artcile they’ve even come down in prices to a more reasonable level. There’s just this love affair that the media seems to have with Apple that I just don’t get and find annoying. Fortunately even that’s changing. They took an even hand when the first Mac virus hit, reporting on Apple’s initial refusal to help it’s customers.

      I’m even going to admit I’m considering purchasing an iPad. The fact that it has an apple on it is irrelevent to me, it’s simply because it has the apps I need at what I consider a reasonable price. I’ve looked at other pads, but they are either not reasonably priced or lack apps. So no, I’m not bitter, just able to make a reasonable decision based on facts and not hype.


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