What's with all of the hype around the iPhone? Haven't we had phones that have all of these features for years? In 2003 (6 years ago!) I had the Nokia N-Gage. I was able to install apps, play games, browse the web, and text like crazy. Ok, so it didn't have a camera, but I had plenty of friends with cameras in their phones, and some of them even did video.
In 2006 I had the Cingular 8125, a Windows Mobile based phone that had a completely customizable interface. It took pictures and video, it could do email, SMS, and had a neat slide out keyboard. Let's not forget the swanky stylus! It had Bluetooth, and WIFI too, and that was three years ago. I loaded all kinds of custom ROMs on it, and installed apps like crazy.
So why is the iPhone so great? It's just now getting features that have been in other phones for years, right? Let's take a look.
It was June 29th, 2007, I had been in line for about 15 hours, we camped out of course. I ended up being second in Boulder to get my hands on an iPhone – the line was around the corner and then some. We all had certain expectations of course – it was called the “Jesus Phone” after all. It had it's short comings, no Flash, no GPS, no 3G, the keyboard was weird, and the pricing? Yikes.
Then came July 11, 2008. We got started a little earlier in the evening this time, but I still ended up third line line. Not too bad for a line of hundreds. Again, the iPhone was the next best thing to water, though it still had it's shortcomings. The camera hadn't changed at all, and there was still no video. Turn by turn directions were nowhere to be found, voice dialing, and a decent Bluetooth implementation were missing. Don't forget Copy and Paste. And again I bought it, the white 16GB to be exact.
Then came June 18th, 2009. This time there were two lines: those that had reserved their phones ahead of time, and those that hadn't. I fell in the second line, in third place. I ended up being about 15thish into the store. Sure there are things missing from the iPhone 3Gs, like… SMS groups, Flash, and a “complete” Bluetooth A2DP profile, but you know what I've determined? It doesn't matter. It really doesn't.
I've been asked by many – what is all the hype about? Why are people so passionate about the iPhone. The Blackberry does all of this stuff, and has forever. There's the Palm Pre, and the newer Andriod phones are full of features too.
Let me tell you why I think the iPhone is a popular as it is. It's because all of it's features, the things that make the iPhone what it is, are right beneath the your fingers. Nothing makes this more clear than having my three year old (at the time) pick up my iPhone 2G and scroll through the photos, pinching and zooming away. A day later, he was taking pictures, and playing accelerometer based games. I would have never given him my 8125 (well, I did later as a toy without service).
The iPhone is so great because everything you want to do is right at your finger tips. It's not buried under levels of menus or mouse (nub) clicks away. There is no “start menu” and there's no need for a stylus. Want to take a picture? Touch the Camera. Want to send an SMS? Touch the chat bubble.
But you get far more with the iPhone than a simple phone. You get the internet to your pocket. It gives everyone the ability to keep in touch, have fun, and learn. Anywhere with a wireless signal.
Note: Apple is on the third version of the iPhone software. The software is freely available to all iPhone owners, including those of the original iPhone. This brings lots of features to a three year old phone, including copy and paste, and better performance. Think about it. Apple still releases software for it's first phone giving it new features.