iPhone is a Consumer Product, not a Business Tool

October 2007

Ok it’s 4am and I’m sitting wide awake at the hotel in San Fran so I figured I’d keep my mind occupied by posting a review of my brand new Apple iPhone.

Before we begin, props to the Ken at Xujiahui for cracking this baby – the iPhone is not supposed to run on anything but the AT&T network in the US. Apple is auctioning the exclusive rights to one major provider in each country (smart) but they’ve yet to do a deal in China. The software hack takes about 20 minutes and is far superior I’m told to the original performed by some kid with a soldering-iron.

Ok so what makes me make sweet-sweet love to the iPhone?


  • The touch screen is totally rad. All navigation, typing, etc is done with a flick/tap/pinch/hold.
  • Being able to flick through album covers on your phone is V sexy.
  • The weather app let’s you see the forecasts of anywhere in the world.
  • Google maps is fun but this will be way cooler once the iPhone is officially released in China and the location based services kick in.
  • Having an 8GB iPod (7.5 actually) in your phone is extremely convenient. If you’re listening to music and someone rings, the music fades out and the ring tone fades in. When the call ends, the music comes back all without you ever having to remove an ear piece or worry about missed calls.
  • The microphone on the headset is also a button that allows you to pause/play and skip tracks. This means no more taking the thing out of your pocket every 2 minutes. I think these headsets were available since the old shuffle came out but I had yet to use them myself.
  • The phone is WI-FI enabled. This means you’re bound to find broadband speed access somewhere close by.
  • I used to think Facebook mobile (m.facebook.com) was cool but I was way off. It’s all about iphone.facebook.com! This thing is good. I mean... REALLY good. Hard to describe but basically it’s the same website but designed for the iPhone. Note: at this point I’d like to say if anyone is starting a mobile-apps business (consulting services that make your site more usable via mobile phones) I want to invest.

Without a doubt, the iPhone is V impressive – they definitely created a “wow-factor”. So what makes me want to flush the thing? In general, Apple focuses on simplicity and “look & feel” but often at the cost of functionality. Here's a few examples:

  • The phone doesn’t come preloaded with a Task List. For anal retentives like myself, this creates a serious efficiency issue. There is probably a widget/app available to download but I haven’t checked – partially because I don’t want a cracked phone anywhere near Apple’s homepage.
  • The 2.0 megapixel camera is OK for taking photos of others during the day but terrible for the drunken photos of yourself and three buddies at night (yes, I do love those). It has a tendency to take blurred photos and there’s no button so you have to press randomly on the far side of the phone.
  • YouTube via the phone is blocked in China (not sure if this is the case with all mobiles?).
  • You can’t text message more than 1 recipient at once – that’s right, no group texts.
  • You can’t forward text messages.
  • You can’t copy and paste text.
  • The above things are all annoying but THE most disappointing thing about the iPhone for me is the typing speed. Being touch screen means you can’t physically hold the buttons. Although this creates an issue when you’re walking or bumping around in a taxi, it’s not even quick when you’re doing the daily morning “in bed” check (addict). Unlike the BlackBerry thumbs, I’ve found the quickest typing is with the right index finger (EDIT: am now using two thumbs which is 90% as quick as the BlackBerry however I think I'm getting RSI!). Those of you in the know will immediately shiver at this thought..

So what has this meant for me on a day-day basis? I’m now running two phones and two sim cards. Although in China this is not unusual, it’s still not ideal (EDIT: just the one phone now but see above re RSI comment - although the no Task List still shits me). I love having the iPhone with me outside working hours (if there is such a thing). When cruising to work, at the gym or in cafes the thing is awesome. iPod, email, WI-FI enabled, dedicated iPhone facebook.

However, whilst google maps, album flicking and weather widgets are all good, in reality these things are only eye candy. If you’re an Apple ambassador (no Loz, I am not) then it’s easy to make someone jealous with this thing. Get them using the iPhone for a week though and they’ll quickly realise its limitations.

Ok so the above is neither researched nor peer reviewed and definitely not fit for HBR, but it did help me fill a solid hour. Actually it also gives me an idea for a V nerdish competition: iPhone vs. BlackBerry type-off. Someone organise it..

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