myThoughts on the iPhone

Watched the MacWorld San Francisco keynote yesterday at Apple with Geoff and Brian. I have watched many keynotes and I think I may be starting to develop a resistance to the Steve Job Reality Distortion Field – The AppleTV is cool, the iPhone not as cool.

AppleTV – When the iTV was demoed last fall it got me thinking how I could integrate it into our current entertainment system at Rancho Gibson. It is great having cool technology, but it has to pass the Beverly Test – can mom figure it how to use, does it enhance her entertainment time, and does using it reduce stress or increase stress. Some new technologies have been more successful than others – the most successful to date has been TiVO.

[side topic – when I first told Beverly about TiVo I got this blank stare and was asked “what does it do for me?” I showed her TiVo in action and the rest is history]

I can see the advantages of being able to pull movies, music, and photos off of the Macs in the house to play on our primary entertainment provider – the TV. But I am not sure if Bev will. Leaning towards getting an AppleTV, but still need to do some more research and soul-searching before making the leap.

iPhone – Maybe I have a different perspective because I work at what has become a phone company – Palm – and deal with phone/carrier issues daily. The physical design and the User Interface made me sit up and say WOW! But as a user of a smart-phone I have some reservations (in no particular order)

– Screen – Those of you who know me know I can’t stand fingerprints on my monitors at work – I can see myself having an epileptic episode over the finger prints and face oil all over the screen.

-Keyboard (or lack of) – I do a fair amount of SMS and email on my current Treo. I am concerned about the lack of tactile feel when using the soft keyboard. I think I need the “little plastic keyboards”.

For Palm our QWERTY keyboard is a key feature for heavy email users, and really for any robust data entry. Palm has made plenty of products over the years with soft-key onscreen keyboards and have found that they don?t produce the optimum experience for customers. It is also difficult to determine whether the iPhone allows one-hand navigation ? another key feature with the Treo smart-phone.

– Robustness – The screen sure is pretty, but what happens when you drop it? Will it survive a drop from 5’+ when is slips out from between your shoulder and ear?

– Radio – EDGE radio? Granted my current Treo (a Treo 680) is EDGE, but if I need to do any serious web surfing I use my Treo 700p that is on Sprint’s EVDO network. Granted I am an exception that I have multiple phones – but then I do work at a phone company. But if Apple is pushing it as an internet device what kind of performance are you going to get when you are not able to access WiFi.

EDGE radio downloads in the 150kb range. EVDO is in the 500-700kb range – quite a difference. Steve said 3G performance was coming – I’ll wait.

– Battery – From what I have seen the battery is not replaceable. I think Palm learned that not an optimal solution with the Treo 600. Additionally battery life is a BIG issue with users. I heard the time talk time and video playback times during the keynote – but your real-world experience may vary. It will be interesting to find out how well it manages battery life given its dimensions and heavy multimedia applications.

Here are some comments from others

Time Magazine

David Pogue

Bottom line is that the iPhone has lots of WOW factor – just concerned how it will play out in the real world. Granted the UI on the Treo could use some improvement from what we have today – but not sure I want the trade-offs to get the iPhone UI.

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