Wednesday, July 18, 2007

iPhone, Therefore iAm

One sunny day last week was iPhone day. Because of my profession (speech technology) and the nefarious activities of a particular client involved in podcasting, having an iPhone is a necessity. Or, at least that's what my partner and I told ourselves after a few bouts of rationalization, guilt, and cover-up: then it went like this: "Debate has now concluded, and the floor is closed. We're getting them. Gentlemen, start your engines!" Of course, Lord Wife already knew of the decision well in advance.

Oh, yeah? Well I know things well in advance, too. For example, I know the battery to this fragile sucker is going to die, at best, 21 days after the one-year warranty lapses. That's only if someone doesn't steal it first, and if my son (Lord Running Boy) doesn't drop it into a sink full of water while playing on the sly with a camera so intuitive and slick, any toddler can use it to take great pictures. There's a good chance it could drop out of my pocket and shatter like a crystal chandelier on the floor of Whole Foods, or supernatural forces could get involved, like the time I saw our iPod fade and disappear into thin air, snatched by envious poltergeists who reached forth to envelop it in the sheltering bosom of their realm. (The echoes of distant laughter could be heard, along with a cry which sounded a lot like "Toonage!") Yes, a lot of things could befall this media equivalent of a sleek P-51 Mustang. It can do anything a flat-screen TV can do--but it can do it over Berlin. And I know that battery is screwed either WAY!

I also know that there's a YouTube button right on the screen. And Google Maps with directions and satellite imagery. Instant-on streaming video which works surprisingly well on the 200kbps EDGE network, delightfully well on Wi-Fi. Consider this single point of data for a moment: a whopping total of 17% of cell phone owners capable of playing YouTube have used them to do so. By comparison, here's the just-compiled research on the iPhone:
Despite owning their new iPhones for a short period of time, 63% of iPhone owners have already used the widescreen-enabled device to watch video.
Half of iPhone owners (51%) have watched a YouTube video on their phone.
46% have watched a music video.
34% have watched the news.
32% have watched a movie trailer.
The graph above the post's title shows the number of news stories filed per day about this media device. Grown to over 20,000 per day, still going strong. Twice the number of stories yesterday as the day of the launch. What for? What's the rumpus? Because it's as good as they say, that's what for. It's so elegant it makes me want to download a free copy of Plato's 'Republic' from iTunes (yep, it's in there) and listen to it as an audiobook. There's been so much thought put into the interface functions that, unlike the Palm Treo sitting on my desk as a paperweight (make me an offer), it makes getting my emails and voice-mails a pleasure. It may even cure my non-violent but total resistance to text messaging.

A product development friend at T-Mobile says they've taken the little pony apart, sliced it, diced it, looked at it from every angle...and determined it's not a threat. To wit: 1) Communications functions aren't good; 2) Virtual keyboard a serious drawback to high wpm and interface integrity; 3) Worst of all, no one likes getting fingerprints on their screens. Summary: Not a serious communications device.

Guess what, muchachos? Denial! You're in dee. Nye. Ull. YouTube is the future of communication. I can go to Amazon, rent 'North By Northwest,' download it to my desktop, sync my phone, then watch it wide-screen. The screen resolution is so high and sharp I'll actually enjoy the movie. As for the virtual keyboard, it isn't any worse than the slippery, convex-shaped keys on the pad of my former (buh-bye!) Treo. For the first time in my life I have set wallpaper on my cell--it's the painting 'Sunday in The Park.' I just switched to that in 10 seconds from the peacock feather I tried out for the sheer hell of it. My ring tone is from a WWII-era Ma Bell. And smudges on the screen? Ha! I keep the touch-screen clean because it's beautiful. I just keep it that way. I've waxed it. All this, and I haven't even cracked the instruction manual yet. But then, there's this Teleport button on it that I haven't tried...

Just kidding about the Teleport. Apple says it plans to sell 10 million of these communications revolution devices during the first year. They're wrong. They're going to sell 20 million. More. It's not a niche phone. It's The Web 2.0 phone the world has been waiting for, and Apple has done a quadruple-lux and nailed the landing, first-try. This device will achieve a Halo Effect and vastly accelerate the pace of innovation and proliferation in mobile entertainment and services. By September, you're going to see octogenarian retirees cheerfully wearing these things on lanyards around their necks. Capice? It's that good. And just see what happens Google introduces Voice Search.

Update: my esteemed partner just called me to rave about the earbuds. Say you're listening to Sinatra and a call comes in. The song automatically lowers volume so you hear the phone ring. You answer the phone, the song mutes, and the bud system switches on the microphone. You talk, and you hear your phone conversation in stereo. You end the call, and the song comes back on. You reach down to the volume control, and turn it up. Steve Jobs was in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, and just today in London signing distribution deals. This phone cost me $652 dollars. If I drop it the wrong way, there's no service plan, and no insurance. I would have to buy another. And I don't much care. Do I hear 30 million? And here's one final thought:

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