Kent's Weekly Rant: Episode 3

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In all the years I have covered mobile technology, I’ve never seen any single device have such a polarizing effect, or invoke such heated emotional debate in the backwater bars and pubs of the online gadget community, as iPhone has. Make no mistake; there is no middle ground to stand on, no comfort zone. You’re either an iPhone lover or a hater. Many, if not most, outspoken critics love iPhone. But to some the very thought of casting an approving eye or complimentary remark on Apple’s beloved black slab is akin to publicly condoning Michael Vick’s dog fighting hobbies.

Well I say NUTS! to all the haters out there. The time has come to put this argument to rest once and for all. Let me illustrate why you should embrace Apple’s ambitious efforts and love , yes LOVE the iPhone.

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Let’s start with the basics, or rather the greatest point of contention among naysayers. The one argument that rises above all others as the criminal indictment to iPhone’s irrelevance; My Smartphone can already do everything iPhone can do! Yes your phone can perform the same tasks, and also sucks bovine testicles in doing so. Feel better now? I do. See kiddies, this isn’t about what iPhone does or doesn’t do, but rather how it does it.

It’s a matter of quality vs. quantity. A beat up 1987 Chevy Cavalier with fuzzy diced mirror and muffler dragging behind on the pavement will get me to the corner grocery every bit as fast a factory fresh Audi TT. The difference is in the quality and the ride. I can sum up the term Smartphone in one word: Compromise. Today’s Smartphone platforms are based upon brain dead micro-sized embedded operating systems running primitive software that delivers an altogether crippled user experience. The era of the Smartphone OS is dead. Apple has just ushered in a new era in mobile computing; the age of REAL operating systems running on mobile hardware.

Take the user interface as an example. On a Windows Mobile Professional device I can peck away at the screen using a toothpick-sized stylus like a chicken with a broken beak, digging through a labyrinth of menus – searching in vain for some obfuscated feature. If I’m unfortunate enough to be using the “standard” edition, sans touchscreen, I can regale myself for hours on end by thumbing around a puny screen, launching application through a series of thumb gestures. Turning left, then right, then left, then up, then down again.

On iPhone - I just tap on any icon with my finger, and the application or feature is presented intuitively right in front of me. Hmm…which to choose?

Another example, screen reorientation. Switching to landscape view on iPhone requires virtually no effort, other than rotating the device clockwise. Whoosh! You’re in landscape. Performing that same task in Windows Mobile requires tapping the start menu. Going to settings. Now go to Screen settings. Select landscape option. Then tap ok. Rinse and repeat. Now, if I’m really clever I could shorten the process by remapping any available hardware button to the task, but not everyone is aware of that trick and making it happen involves a quick lesson in button configuration. Workable, but ever so sloppy from a design standpoint – the hallmark of Microsoft ingenuity.

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Mobile internet is another testimony to Smartphone imperfection. Every mobile web browser renders standard webpages in the same manner by running HTML through a virtual paper shredder. Spitting out a confetti mass of pictures and text, all narrowed down into one indecipherable column. Jumping to any part of a page is truly a unique experience. More like a game really – a guessing game. Where do I scroll to find the text block I am looking for? Is it down here? Do I scroll sideways? And if so, do I scroll left or right? Bullocks!

With Safari you experience the full on internet, minus a few luxuries like Flash...but that's totally coming. looks around nervously

Now I don’t mean to single out Microsoft. God knows every Smartphone platform under the sun shares just as much guilt. And truth be told, I find many likeable qualities in Windows Mobile and believe the platform holds the promise of one day becoming something quite compelling. But that day won’t come until long after version 6 is a memory and project “Photon” is fired from Redmond’s torpedo tubes.

So what do my inane ramblings have to do with spreading this peace and harmony I spoke of? Only this. iPhone is far from perfect, as you anti-fanboys are ever so quick to point out. There’s no 3G support, it doesn’t do cut and paste, has no third party software support, suffers penis envy in the company of other Smartphones. Well it’s all true. But there’s also something insidious buried beneath that glossy fingerprint covered veneer: It’s a game changer. For the first time, someone has entered this muddled, underdeveloped market and forced every player to take software design seriously and rethink the mobile experience. iPhone’s greatest impact on the market will be making everything else before it look bad.

And believe me, every handset and platform vendor in the wireless industry is scrambling to develop a user experience on par with Apple’s. Many will fail, but the attempt to improve and innovate will benefit every user, in every camp. Slowly but surely, with each new release, Smartphones will get smarter and easier to use thanks in large part to iPhone.

When the industry's largest mobile phone maker humiliates itself in public display before the world, by unveiling a complete iPhone rip-off, in one brazen sloppy move, you can bet people behind closed doors and conference rooms are scared shitless. And that, boys and girls, is a good thing. We all stand to benefit from iPhone.

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Reader comments

Kent's Weekly Rant: Episode 3

8 Comments

Well said, Kent! As a user of Windows Mobile and S60 devices I have to say that even though there may be other functionality in those devices they are complex and require LOTS of user interaction to get things done. I keep going back to the iPhone, which says a lot for what Apple had done coming from a "power user" like myself.
We can all look forward to a better mobile experience in the future thanks to Apple and the iPhone. It is almost scary thinking what it would have been like without the iPhone, isn't it?

I'm so sick of Apple haters. I don't expect everyone to love Apple, but by now I expect everyone to understand what makes Apple (or Apple products) so great. Its *all* about the user experience. No amount of words or pictures or video can convey that. And since most of the world has used or owns an iPod, I expect people to understand that. Especially the geeks out there who are brazen Apple haters.
But I see right through most of those people. Most are haters because its the "in" thing to do right now. Its much like Microsoft in its hay day. You just weren't cool if you didn't hate Microsoft (actually, thats mostly still true today).
I must say though, I don't see that many haters out there in the "real" world. Most are trolling internet forums and the like. Its very easy to sit all alone behind a computer and spew out false information or ignorant points about the iPhone. But when they are face to face with someone who knows their shite about the iPhone, they clam up like Alberto Gonzoles.
Yet all of this sort of thing has happened before, albeit on a smaller scale. These same ignorant voices bellowed when the iPod first was let loose on the world. They quickly were muffled by truth. But these people had an excuse back then. Very few knew the magic of Apple. But now that the iPod is everywhere and reigns supreme as the best digital music player in the universe, these people have no excuse.
So let them bitch and moan. Let them make fools of themselves yet again. It gives me something to point and laugh at.

Kent, great piece of work. Personally, I tell people this: I have never owned a single bit of Apple product until I bought the iPhone, but absolutely HAD to have the phone.
As for the downsides, I realized long ago that all movie critics go into every film expecting to see the year's Best Picture. All car critics compare each any every Yugo to the Ferrari. All food critics expect McDonald's should tast like Chez Frou Frou. But it the real world, for those of us that are happy driving our Subarus to get our Big Macs, we don't get every Smartphone that comes down the pike. We get one, use it exclusively for a few years, then maybe get another one. And most importantly, we don't benchmark!
The haters need to stop and consider what the iPhone brings to the game EMOTIONALLY -- we want to use it, we want to be seen with it, we want to show it off. I doubt a Treo ever got someone laid. :)

Yes Kent while some things are arguably much better on the iphone like surfing the net, but if your not in a wifi area your shit out of luck or reduced to a slow crawl.
The sms is cool but i cant view any pictures sent to me unless i go to view my messages and log in with some idiotic log and password. You also cant start an email and attach a photo. you have start with the photo to send it out...stupid.....and finally the battery life sucks......
I'm sure there are a few other things we could complain about but that t for now. oh yeah I cant search for anything in my contacts except by last name. For business use it becomes poor unless you categorize everything. and so the list of little things goes on....

Damn. The more I read your blog the more I think you're the only sane person in the world of creepy, over-zealous iPhone fans/haters.
The thing that so many detractors fail to mention is the simple fact that most of the issues seen with the first gen iPhone (sms, lack of mms, email photo attaching, name search in contacts... oh, hi Doug!) can be fixed with a software update or two. Just an observation!

We are just normal phone users that waited a year to get the new iphone. We planned, saved and couldn't wait. We just bought the 4GB 2 weeks ago (both my husband and I) and now it's discontinued. Don't you think they knew that then? What does that mean for us? We are not IT savey like many of you so we would appreciate your input.

I don't think there is a need to be scared. In fact, i just did buy a 4GB recently knowing it is already discontinued. I have always been a Mac user and even when i buy macs whose line have been discontinued, i could still very much use them without a hitch even 5 yrs later. I bought the ibookG3 after the release of ibookG4 ... today it still serves all my needs even when i bought new softwares. In comparison, i almost always have to change new phone every year ... so i always just get the free ones. But the iphone i bought knowing i can still use it maybe in the next 5 years perhaps.

It's been said before. iPhone is simply a beautifully designed device that does a lot of things well and everything with style and panache. Even surfing with Safari on ATT is acceptable, not blindingly fast but OK. The naysayers are just that, looking for things to complain about. Apple leads the way and have my undying support.