iPhone rants and raves

On twitter, <a href=http://www.twitter.com/mparekh@mparekh (Michael Parekh) lamented the other day:

Had my 3G iPhone Crash 5 times so far, hanging up on boot screen. Full Restore every time, each taking 2 hours. On 6th restore. Anyone else?

On 3G iPhone crash (cont.), using Mobile Me sync, and have over 60 paid and free Apps installed. Last hang up was while on-air App upgrade.

There are lots more folks with similar complaints on twitter or getsatisfaction.

Meanwhile, over on Dave Farber’s IP list, Lauren Weinstein wrote:

Given the iPhone’s expensive to replace (for non-hackers) “permanent”
battery, I’m interested in reports of rapid battery decline
associated with the rash of new iPhone applications, many of which
involve keeping the display lit, long-period data streaming, etc.

Question: Will the new applications make the non-user-replaceable
battery much less palatable than previously, given that many users
may burn through its available cycle life much more rapidly than

But at the same time, how can you not love this device? Also on IP, Linda Stone wrote:

Nearly everyone who had an iPhone at the TED Conference this year,
also had a Blackberry. I had the STRONG feeling that the Blackberry
was the wife and iPhone was the mistress…..

(I’d reverse that: I’ve seen lots of blackberry users who’ve added an iphone, but not lots of iphone users who’ve added a blackberry.)

I’m wondering if this is a trend: devices and services that people love so much that they even love to hate them. We’ve seen this with twitter. People are so passionate about it that they put up with problems that would kill a lesser product.

Meanwhile, at the Web 2.0 Summit preview dinner the other night, former Yahoo EVP Jeff Weiner was raving to me about his new iPhone, urging me to write something that explains why the iPhone is such a paradigm-shifting device. He hit on themes that we’ve talked about on radar: incorporation of sensors into the UI, sweet integration with the cloud, design as competitive advantage. But he’s right. I need to write more on this topic.

Disclosure: O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures is an investor in GetSatisfaction.

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  • My informal survey of area colleges has the Blackberry being used by students more than the iPhone. The kids love to text, and a dual-thumb friendly keypad makes that easier.

  • I love the idea of the iphone, but there’s no way I’m getting one.

    In contrast, and by way of example, I hate the idea of Apple but there’s no way I’d trade my mac for a windows PC.

  • I carry both iPhone and BlackBerry. BlackBerry because it’s usable as a phone, particularly for conference calls (http://parand.com/say/index.php/2008/07/14/iphones-weaknesses-as-a-business-phone/), iPhone because it has a usable browser.

    If the iPhone was a better phone and the battery lasted a whole day I’d probably dump the BlackBerry. If the BlackBerry had a usable browser I’d probably dump the iPhone…

    On second thought, I’m not dumping the iPhone, it’s way too nice :-)

  • gregorylent

    yep, if there is ONE thing the web’o’sphere NEEDS, it is definitely more iphone stories …

  • It’s unfortunate but the best way to save battery life is two turn off 3G, Bluetooth, and GPS, and turn those features on when you need them. The battery can last much longer with those options. From personal experience, the 3G network is not worth the battery power it consumes. Other than being spotty in the New York/New Jersey metro area the speeds are faster, but not significantly faster, and certainly don’t warrant the “cost” of the battery drain.

  • You don’t need to come up with fancy theories for the iPhone’s success. A simpler metaphor is that it’s the Macintosh of mobile user experience, after we’ve been suffering decades of DOS-like user experience. (Yes, traditional phones have colorful graphics, but not a graphical user interface where you can point and click [or tap, as the case may be].)

    One of the lessons from the Mac in the 1980s and early 1990s was that people used many more applications on the Mac than on DOS because of the easier-to-learn GUI and the consistent design of the Mac applications.

  • Jakob –

    I agree with parts of your analogy, but not others. Yes, like the Mac, the iPhone has a great design and usability sensibility.

    But it’s also like Windows vs DOS in that it embraces a new paradigm more effectively than its competitors. Old phones are like Lotus 123 on DOS to Excel on Windows.

    The key is to think about what are the elements of that new paradigm. Sensors are part of it. So too is effective integration of internet services into the mainstream of the device.

  • davidm

    My feeling about the iPhone is most people who love it haven’t really compared it to other devices. And comparing it to the Blackberry is Apples and Oranges, totally different ideas.

    I had a SE P800 years ago, not that you could compare that old device today, but it was designed to be a full screen oriented touchscreen device (most people removed the flip keypad) and it did a pretty good job. Oh, and it had cut and paste.

    I have an iPhone 3G on trial now, and what strikes me the most is that like the one button mouse which most people work around, Apple has defiantly, against all logic, made a lot of choices where the user would be better served with hard buttons, scroll bars, the old style stuff. Sure it’s cute to use two finger sizing, but it’d be easier with hard buttons, and you can’t go quickly to the end of a long list with the current scrolling method. And oh yeah, no cut and paste, undoubtedly because they can’t figure out how to “elegantly” add it in. Lesson from the one-button mouse, there is no true elegance on today’s computer, better to compromise and make it better for the user.

    What strikes me second is how useless the iPhone is without the net. Went to the cottage, GPS failed me. I’ll be keeping my Nokia n95, thanks.

    I think ultimately the iPhone is a good choice for people who don’t want to try things and do their own research, they trust Apple to make their choices for them and believe, against all logic, that it’s the best possible solution.

  • William

    As I understand the practice, men with wives add mistresses.

  • I’d like to add that despite all the shortcomings of the iPhone, Apple is the only mobile phone manufacturer that has successfully figured out a way to easily distribute applications to the devices, and monetize the process. Nokia couldn’t do it. RIM couldn’t do it. None of the Microsoft phones do it as well as Apple. Yes, technical people can install apps on Nokia, RIM, and MSFT phones. But there is no central repository for the apps, and there is no way to easily install them. The third party apps is the magic that separates the iPhone from all other smart phone devices, in my opinion.

    Having said that, Apple really needs to fix the battery drainage and 3G performance issues. Practical location-based services apps will be useless the people have to contend with running out of battery power. So will games and other interesting apps.

  • Jackson


    We do mobile development where I work, so we see a lot of devices run through our shop, and I have witnessed the exact opposite of your findings. Our development and our QA group found the iPhone to be a breath of fresh air after years of testing Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and J2ME devices. With the release of the G3, all of our testers and most of our developers either have or are waiting for an ordered iPhone.

  • davidm

    Alex Zaltsman, there are a few good portals for Nokia (Symbian) apps, for example, or you can just use google. Installing apps on modern devices is very straightforward; in Symbian’s case, you either install it directly on the phone through the browser after clicking on a .sis or .jar file, where you’re asked a couple of simple questions, or you load it on your computer, which sends it to the phone.

    I find this about as easy as the checkboxes and clicking of iTunes. I like to have choice when it comes to distribution, Apple is disallowing certain kinds of apps that are perfectly valid and available on other devices.

    Ultimately finding and updating apps is not as centralized on other mobiles as it is with the iPhone, but I’d expect the next generation of devices to address this systematically as well.

    After all the model and leaders here are Linux distributions, where finding and updating apps has been completely centralized for quite some time. But the hype machine completely disregards this fact.

    Apple has monetized this process, but I find this nickel and diming or basic/teaser-ware to enable features that are included on other devices (eg video recording) is very irritating, and the other bad iPhone features are astounding (eg no cut and paste, very basic, net-based GPS app, etc).

    I’m not saying the iPhone isn’t ahead of the game in many ways right now, it’s a very slick little funnel into Apple’s coffers, but the media and many users have been ignorant of what other devices can do (eg implying the iPhone was first with accelerometers, GPS, you name it), and there are also drawbacks to their device. Pretending that all the other companies will just give up and let Apple take over is a bit much.

  • Davidm, I really like your one button mouse analog :) There is certain kind of stubbornness in their design religion that doesn’t necessary best serve their user. People follow it like a cult anyway.

    In anycase, after being thoroughly disappointed by my windows mobile phone, I’m going get get an iPhone when the next shipment comes in.

  • Sam

    I take it like rich. I also love the things which are possible with an iphone, but I am not thinking about to buy me an iphone, either. It is not my way to communicate that way. I just need a mobile phone to make some calls, and may be for some short messages. But all that things like mobile internet, camera and so on are not necessary for me to be placed in a mobile phone. So that iphone is not my phone…!

  • @davidm

    We do mobile development where I work, so we see a lot of devices run through our shop, and I have witnessed the exact opposite of your findings.