Anyone want to buy a (slightly) used iPhone?

10 September, 2008

This is being written on an iPhone. I have a relationship with my iPhone which is starting to change my relationshipo with my Internet-connected laptop. But it has also slightly changed my mobile phone behaviour – and in ways that I can feel I am starting to rail against.

Love the interface? Yes, but…
Love the interconnection between apps? Yes, but….
Love the large display? Yes, but….

I recently asked a group of about 60 GenC’s whether they wanted an iPhone or not. About nine of them did – a respectable 15%, not bad. I was curious as to how the rest felt, and asked who had no interest or intention of getting an iPhone. I confess, i expected similar numbers, but I was wrong.

40% of them did not want an iPhone. In a couple of cases, it was anti-Apple sentiment, but even ignoring that… Some had tried it and rejected it. One had received and iPhone and gave it away after a week, one had gone into the Apple Store to try it out with the intention of buying it – but ended up walking away and is still looking for a new handset. For almost all of the 40 of didn’t want it – they saw the iPhone as a neat little browsing device, but a substandard mobile phone.

Why? They didn’t like the soft keypad – they preferred the numeric keypad for text entry as they could type without looking at the keys.

They wanted MMS so they could share photos. They wanted flash, they felt cheated by a far less than fully-featured GPS. And most of them already had a music player they loved (often an iPod), so they didn’t need a duplicate for this.

But close behind the (in)ability to text at 60 words a minute blindfold, and send and receive photos, was the lack of decent Bluetooth support – how are they meant to share with their friends without it?

I remember my frustration with journalists who never understood what MySpace was, get all frenzied over FaceBook. At the time, and still, I think this is in part because they never gotMySpace (it was for a younger, less structured and more creative demographic) whereas the more formal structure of FaceBook and the slightly elitists sense of community they found there appealed to them – so we had a year of journalists talking up FaceBook and heralding the death of MySpace. I have a feeling we’re seeing a bit of this now – Apple has always been a phenomenal marketing company (even if not a great technology company) and their concentration on user interface and experience cannot be denied. So now we’ve got a raft of journalists who suddenly getthe mobile internet – because they’ve got a real internet device in their pocket, even if it is not a great mobile phone.

For the mobile Internet (and the Internet will go everywhere) – the iPhone can’t be beat. But as a really mobile connection device – there are some pretty fundamental flaws. I might be fine about the changes to my internet behaviour, but I’m not happy about the loss of some really mobile tools I was used to. And certainly, according to one random sample of GenC – the iPhone just doesn’t cut it as The Most Desirable Device (which admittedly, most of them are still waiting for).

Apple’s Kool Aid sure tastes great, but maybe we need to slow down our drinking.



  1. Interesting – do you think your GenC (whoever they are) would be interested in the Google phone, the G1?

    Have to take issue with your comment about Apple not being a great technology company – the facts speak for themselves: Apple tech is orders of magnitude more reliable than anything windows based, and besides that, looks infinitely better. The aesthetics and manufacturing quality of the company far surpass anything that Dell, Compaq, HP could ever design.

  2. Perhaps I should also point out that the iPhone 3G comes with Bluetooth 2.0

  3. Perhaps I should also point out that despite your contention and the views of the people you spoke to the original iPhone did include Bluetooth. Perhaps yoru GenC-ers are not so tech savvy after all?

  4. Ok, let’s get this cleared up. What GenC want in Bluetooth is no mono-headphones. Thay want to share content, and that means connecting with other devices to share files.

    No iPhone – not 2G or 3G supports this. The Bluetooth support is for headset calls. As I mention in the piece – it is the content sharing they are interested in.

    Also – Apple great technology company? I’d content they have by far the best user interface, user design and look and feel better. When you’re a closed shop – that helps a lot with reliability. But that said – I’m about to take back the iPhone due to a flaw Apple deny exists, but which is pretty well documented. Realiable? Not according to the target market of tech savvy GenC (or me)

  5. What do you think about the contention that the iphone is losing its status cache as it becomes the handset of choice for middle-income users who would be unable to afford separate ipods, macs and phones.

    Could it be that GenC regards the iPhone as having a different (and inferior) level of cache by comparison with the ipod?

  6. I think that middle-income acceptability does impact the social cache more for technorati – being ahead of the curve means when the curve (middle income) reaches you – you are no longer ahead of it!

    Bear in mind that iPod has uers across the whole spectrum, but the Apple cache isn’t lessening at all.

    I do think the issue is about functionality! And having played with an Android phone this week – this isn’t going hit the GenC buttons either!

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