Reading up on the Apple iPhone, I'm not seeing what's so exciting about it, and I'm even tempted to say that the thing is going to sink like a lead balloon and everybody who's jazzing about it now is going to feel foolish in a year. It's a cell phone that's also an iPod that does the Internet and takes pictures. Why is that exciting? I already have a cell phone and an iPod, and my cell phone -- a 14-month-old Palm Treo 650 -- is Internet-enabled and a cameraphone too. I grant you there will be a huge attraction, for some people, in combining their iPods and cell phones into a single device. But, still, nothing about the iPhone is convincing me it'll slay dragons.
Dan Warne writes about the phone's liabilities on APC. He headlines the article "Top 10 things to hate about the Apple iPhone," but includes the phrase, "Don't get me wrong. I want an iPhone as badly as the next guy," because he wants everyone to know that he is not a heretic, he knows the iPod is a magical device that will make the lame walk and clear up pimples and other facial blemishes. But, still, the device does have flaws, he notes: the battery life is poor, the battery can't be replaced, and it can't synch via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, despite being enabled for both technologies.
He also notes a point that caused me to raise an eyebrow: Everything is controlled by the touchscreen. Hardware buttons are much better navigation tools than a touchscreen, for the simple reason that you can feel them. You can feel where they are, you can feel when you have successfully pressed them. Touchscreens rely entirely on visual feedback. If you're not looking at the touchscreen, or only half-looking, as many of us are when we use the cell phone, then you can't tell what you're doing.
Michael Gartenberg at Jupiterresearch notes the iPhone is not an open platform -- it's not extensible -- you won't see any third-party software on the iPhone, only Apple software.
Also: It's not available until June. Valleywag asks: "When did Steve start showing vaporware?"
You can hear my skepticism in my podcast discussion with Sharon Gaudin, our reporter on the scene at Macworld. She's had a chance to see the iPhone, and spend the day at Macworld, and she can barely contain her excitement. I'm talking to her from 500 miles away, and I'm, all, "I have a Treo. I have an iPod. So?"
On the other hand.
I'm relying for my information on other people's articles, and articles don't really convey a few things that sell electronics: Elegance, sexiness, and ease-of-use. That's how Apple conquered the world with the iPod, they created a sexy, easy-to-use device. And the iPhone appears to have those qualities, according to Engadget,, which got a quick hands-on. (The reviewer, Brian Lam, used his demo time to call his Mom. That's cute.)
Dave Pogue at the New York Times spent an hour with the iPhone, and, as usual, does a great job reviewing it based on that short time. He says the phone "feels amazing in your hand" (which points to the elegance and sexiness thing), and finds a few strong points and weaknesses.
To tell the truth, I'm more excited about Apple TV than I am about the iPhone.