AS A MULTIMEDIA PHONE USER, I share most of Adrian Weckler's hesitations about Apple's new phone. I won't call it an iPhone because that's Cisco's term. While roaming around the Royal Dublin Society's Exhibition Hall, listening to school students talk about texting (around nine minutes into this 27-minute [21.8 MB 96 kbps MP3 file] podcast), I scribbled down 10 things that I depend upon my top-end Nokia and SonyEricsson phones (the ones in the photo) to do. I used the back of the daily newspaper--the one with the iPhone photo on the front page. Since I'm purchasing phones positioned in the top 5% of the pricing schedule, and since I spend more than EUR 200 each month in network charges, I believe I'm a likely target for any new entrant in the multimedia phone market. I really want the Apple phone to succeed, if only because it will put pressure on other multimedia phone manufacturers to keep prices competitive. But before I buy, I would like to have some features that ensure the phone is as least as capable as my current multimedia phones.
1. It should ensure I can continue eyes-off texting. When I text while walking or while the phone is under the table at a meeting, it's eyes-off texting. If I cannot text without looking at the phone, I lose responsiveness. I don't think Apple's new phone provides any kind of haptic feedback for blind text messaging. I have never seen a blind person using a touchscreen kiosk faster than using a pressable input interface. Tog thinks the iPhone needs a keyboard too.
2. It should connect to high speed data. Apple's new phone launches in the States without 3G capability. You need speed across the network when you stream video or podcasts to a phone costing more than EUR 500. Nokia and SonyEricsson give me that speed now. It would be nuts if the Apple phone landed in Europe without 3G capability.
3. Grounded in a stable processor. I have to reboot both of my multimedia phones occasionally when failing to close applications that depend stable processing of video playback, Flash photostreams or video recording. Stable processing means you can read a Word Doc while taking a phone call while receiving a text when a calendar alarm activates. Imagine playing your tunes for friends on your Apple iPhod cell phone and then having the phone lock up when a phone call rings on it.
4. Able for direct podcatching. I can grab podcasts directly across the 3G network with my Nokia multimedia phones. From first impressions, Apple's new cell phone does not house a self-contained version of iTunes.
5. Accepts third party applications. Most people want the option of installing their own feed aggregators or a client for VoIP calls. Most businesses have bespoke VPN tunnels built for mobiles. Try those things with a watered-down version of OS X. Try cobbling together any software for any Apple product and watch the cease-and-desist complaints encircle your camp. The iPhone is a smackdown of Java, the most commonly used platform for third-party applications installed on mobile phones today.
6. Gives easy portability to office documents. I shovel spoken Word documents onto my mobile phone but that's not easy if I have to use iTunes to manage Magnetic Time. I also shift PDFs and DOCs onto my phones. I wonder what will happen when Vista starts infiltrating offices. I far as I know, there's no device-neutrality between Vista and Apple.
7. Provides freedom to drag and drop and play. I need removeable memory on my multimedia devices and would never pay hundreds of euro for a phone that did not let me control my content in ways I need to work. I need to stream my MP3 files via Bluetooth to my television set--not be constrained to using only AAC files through an iTunes player.
You need card memory to slot your tracks from one device to another. Apple's copy protection locks people into Apple. Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, recently asked Apple when the company would remove copy protection and was told, “We see no need to do so.” This is not my idea of futureproofed digital living.
And by the way, I have never purchased a phone without easy access to a user-replaceable battery.
8. Comes SIM-free with unlocked network capabilities. Who in their right mind will pay incremental charges for voice, data, and wi-fi services? In Europe, you buy your unlocked phone and you freely choose who provides your services. Most of the money I pay to O2-Ireland goes to text messaging services. If O2 charges too much, my phones let me switch networks. DISCLOSURE: All the car boot sales within 50 miles of my home feature stands that unlock all phones made on the planet.
9. Offers flexible contact management. I can sync hundreds of contacts from my desktop to my smart multimedia phones. I can sync thousands of contacts from my online Yahoo! address book to my phones. I need flexible management of those contacts, not some Apple service for phone management. I don't mind if my current address book talks to the Apple service, but it better allow two-way contact management.
10. Gives me 30 Hours Between Charges. Nokia continue improving battery performance. The N70i gives me more than a day's usage with voice, photography and web uploads. If I spend a week's wages for a multimedia phone, its battery power has to survive a full day, then run through moderate use during an evening before being recharged at the office the next day.
My use case is not the slavish Apple user experience. I get less excited about packaging than I do with feel or reliability. I don't fawn over trendy tactile cases or icons that rotate and swoosh. When I buy a piece of consumer electronics, I want it to last at least three years. I have that with my current iPod, my Nokia 9500 and my SonyEricsson P910i. I'm no Apple cell phone convert until I see that kind of customer fulfillment across several markets. In the meantime, I'll just go back to being a tech troll who feeds at the bottom of mailing lists.
Tim Moynihan -- "13 Reasons to doubt the iPhone Hype"
Adrian Weckler -- "iPhone 1.0 -- Biggest Flop in Tech History?"
Matthew Ingram -- "Thanks be to Steve for Locking Us In"
The misunderstood Dave Winer has a point to make. So does Paolo Valdermarin.
Randall Stross -- "Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs"
David Pogue -- "Ultimate iPhone FAQs List"
Victor Keegan -- "The iPhone is not as clever as Steve Jobs thinks"
Rikard Linde: If Apple really reinvented the phone, its invention would do these things.
Bruce Tognazzini -- "The iPhone User Experience: A First Look"