What I’d Need to See to Buy the iPhone

As a self-described gadget junkie, I continue to be perplexed about why I’m not clamoring for the iPhone. About 3 weeks ago I went into Cingular and picked up the new Blackberry Curve to replace my Pearl and didn’t even think twice about waiting for the iPhone to release. Aside from the fact that I already own a Shuffle and a Nano, I’ve been struggling to figure out why this device hasn’t captured my imagination despite all of the media blitz, and I think I finally know enough to post about it. I have distilled my thoughts into three categories — arguments I don’t buy, arguments I do buy, and what can be fixed with the Curve.
If you don’t want to read the whole post, I can give you the summary right here — as a Blackberry user, the iPhone only has the potential to solve 1 of the 2 issues I have with the Blackberry Curve.

Arguments I Don’t Buy

Lack of Corporate IT Support – I don’t think the lack of IT support for the iPhone will inhibit adoption. Early versions of the Blackberry only worked on the desktop. And if enough executives pick up the iPhone, I guarantee you that IT departments around the country will find themselves trying to hack together ways to support the device. IT adoption for devices like this can happen from the top, not just from the bottom.

High Price Tag – I don’t buy this one either. People are paying more and more for consume electronics devices. Also, Apple customers are used to paying full retail price for new products — you rarely find Apple products on sale or at discount unless it’s an end of life issue. Given the pent-up demand, I doubt Apple will be under any pressure to lower prices on this iteration of the device anytime soon. If anything, I think the high price will only increase the aspirational appeal of this device.
Arguments I Do Buy

Battery Life – I have certainly had my “everything” device bonk out due to battery usage and it is not cool. If you have one device that does everything, losing battery support for that device essentially cuts you off from the world. Reading the stats on battery usage, it appears that users who really push the device to do everything it can do (web browsing, audio, video, photos, and voice) could experience battery life issues.

Touch Screen – I do think this could be an issue. I have damaged every touch screen device I’ve ever owned. And the lack of keyboard might be a real issue – the only way to know is actually use the device and see how well text input without tactile response works. I do a lot of texting, email, and IM – I can’t imagine how I’d be efficient without a “real” keyboard.
My Complaints with the Curve

Better support for instant messaging – I’ve owned a lot of phones in my day and I would say one of the more life-changing experiences I had was owning a Sidekick 3 for a brief period of time. As someone who makes heavy use of IM, having a device with great IM and a full keyboard really makes mobile IM useful.

Better web browsing -The Blackberry has a serviceable web browser on Cingular. I can get to most pages I want to see, but not all pages render correctly and the browser tends to break tables and other formatting elements. Given that the iPhone will be using the same EDGE network as the Curve, I doubt I’ll see any improvement in browser speed. That doesn’t mean that the iPhone browser won’t provide a better experience (transcoding, page presentation, etc), but I don’t think it will be any faster.

So, as far as I can tell, the iPhone has the possibility of solving only one (at most) of these two issues right out of the box. That isn’t to say that third parties won’t develop the apps I want in the IM realm, but we won’t have that functionality on Friday. The Curve does everything I need it to do and I just don’t feel compelled to buy an iPhone. What am I missing? Help me out.

  • Hi Charles. For me, the most compelling feature of the iPhone is the Safari Browser. Assuming it works as advertised and it is a true full featured browser (short of flash and java) then I think that is remarkable. It could eliminate the gap between mCommerce and eCommerce and create some interesting new opportunities in that space. Additionally, clients of mine could now easily process orders, etc… on a tiny hand held device, for example when walking through their warehouse. Granted the EDGE network is slow, but if a user has WiFi available when using the browser than I think they will have an experience that is unavailable on any other hand held device.

  • Craig Ross

    Hi Charles. For me, the most compelling feature of the iPhone is the Safari Browser. Assuming it works as advertised and it is a true full featured browser (short of flash and java) then I think that is remarkable. It could eliminate the gap between mCommerce and eCommerce and create some interesting new opportunities in that space. Additionally, clients of mine could now easily process orders, etc… on a tiny hand held device, for example when walking through their warehouse. Granted the EDGE network is slow, but if a user has WiFi available when using the browser than I think they will have an experience that is unavailable on any other hand held device.