Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Apple's Tipping Point

Can another single word be added to the mountain already written in praise of the iPhone? You bet your sweet life it can. Being tied up on the big launch day, I arranged for someone to line up and get one of Steve Jobs’ latest sensation. The key instruction? Get it back here as fast as possible. I pretty well had to wrestle it from their hands. What is it about Apple that gives them such an intimate understanding of magical objects? Commercial mobile phones have been around for over 30 years and nothing has come close to the elegance and wonder of the iPhone. Sure there were hints of what to expect. The iPod has been getting slimmer with every model, but the iPhone is still a quantum leap. What I love the most is the way the entire object feels devoted to the screen. It’s not about numbers to punch or controls to play with, it’s about a perfectly beautiful screen. I think we’ll look back on the launch of the iPhone as the moment that tipped us into a pure screen culture.


Kempton said...

The wonder about this screen is it is pretty scratch resistant. I forgot where I watched a test of the screen but keys and coins don't seem to harm that screen too much.

My friend has a N800 and we both agree that the iPhone has better user interface.

Steve Jobs just amazing in redefining our experiences.

Susan956 said...

How would one persuade a resistance buyer - like myself - to get excited? :)

I guess you could start by reminding me how frustrating I find it to have a quasi ancient mobile phone (that my son traded me for an even more ancient one) that I have to peer at in trying to select keys and how maddening I find it to take ages composing a text message. I assume iPhone can text can't it??

Then remind me that I can't break it simply by experimenting with it. Then run me through two or three basic needs I have..let me show you I can do it..correct any small errors..let me show you again...

And I will probably be sold.

There is still a reasonably sizable (I would contend) portion of the consumer base who need a shift in current sales technique. Who are more than content to wait until the long lines are diminished but who need and WANT sales staff to sit with them, over a coffee perhaps in an in-house cafe area, and 'teach'/lead them (the consumer) INTO the product.

These days such product launches/sales are assumptive and geared towards either tech savvy people or people who feel safe and ok to experiment - who, via past experience seem to naturally respond to the item.

I'm not one of them and like a child, I sink to the floor in a weepy mess waiting for someone to come show me how and watch me 'do' and make it all better :)

There is an ad for you as I believe there are more of us out there than one may realise.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I'm not going to lie, but for the longest time I felt the iPhone was overhyped. Steve Jobs was crooning over the fact that the technology in the iPhone is 5 years ahead of its time. At this point, we had already established that the phone would not be on a GSM network, would lack a number of features (which I believe will be added through firmware updates) and would be on EDGE technology. I will admit, that after living in Japan for 6 months, I think the Japanese are the ones 5 years ahead. The ability to incorporate barcode reading devices into their phones (and subsequently use those barcodes for things such as buying tickets or downloading nutritional information to a phone) was mind-blowing. The fact that Japan is already experimenting with 4G technology is a feat in itself. The iPhone? It's on 2G (Europe is already leaning to 3G). It's also interesting to see this "thumb culture" that has just recently arrived in the United States (with the popularity of texting) turn into finger tapping.

However, after getting my hands on one and playing with it (my roommate bought one), I have been impressed. The touch screen technology is definitely something to marvel at, and the design, elegance and ease of use is just what Apple is about. There are still some things that need fixing, but I would have to agree that it is a victory for the technology world in terms of breakthrough work.

Now pretty soon we will be using computers like the one in Minority Report or the Matrix, with the sliding visuals.

Susan956 said...

Piotr.. Various tech people I know who adore Apple have raised similar critiques. They feel the next gen of IPhone will be way more of value and interesting. I appreciate your comment on the different global standards of technology also. A useful commentary. Thank you.

I recall Consul saying this in a previous article however I look forward to voice response technology - even just on and off would be a great start.

I have never forgotten that Star Trek scene where they have come back to our time.. "computer" (in the scots accent waiting for the voice to respond).

I rather like thumb technology and would prefer it in some ways to finger. It's perhaps a facile question but how do ladies with ultra long nails deal with these objects? Or, guitar pickers?

Was it an odd YouTube video that has a guy put an IPhone into a blender? I gather blender art is his oeuvre and he puts all manner of objects in to see if they'll mash up.

Susan956 said...

This is simple and so much fun. Perhaps create an art work that you would have on the back of your iPhone if you could? :)

By the way, if you use this and send to a friend, your friend clicks and then will see your creation strokes building up the art work. A great device!

Susan956 said...

Kevin and others,

That last post of mine. Wouldn't there be a niche market for 'one-of' collectible iPhones if individuals could in fact have them manufactured with a unique/personally generated art work on the back? The technology exists to translate art-to-casing, it's just obviously more expensive.

O.S said...

Piotr, you're absolutely right - Japan (east asia in general) is way ahead of us. You'll find many TV channels on your mobile phone already, people watching morning shows on their way to work. Europe, too, is a bit ahead of the US (the iPhone has yet to be launched here) with very good 3G coverage (I'm writing this on a MacBook hooked up to a 3G modem, in a coffee house). The iPhone, as it is now, will have less advanced technology than a lot of the semi computer phones we have here. But, It'll still be a huge success. Why? This answer is true for a most of the stuff Apple produces: they understand that design is important in our lives. Computers, phones, MP3 players etc are all around us, our bags and pockets are full of them. We buy clothes we think are stylish and beautiful, the same goes for our hi-tech products. Other brands are still at the "dull grey desktop computer age" while Apple spends, it seems, equally much resources to design as the technology. In short - they are in sync with what people want, and many companies are not. The surprise is not why Apple is this, but rather how the hell so many other companies aren't.

RamziZ said...

I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed with the iPhone (however, their marketing was brilliant)

For starters, the keyboard is a mess, I believe it was designed for Asian fingers. Took me over a minute to type in a URL.

The browser was also a pain. I think there is a good reason why publishers are adopting WAP. For apple to go with main sites, means that you have to work harder to get the particular content you are interested in to fit on your screen in a legible way.

Add to that the fact that you are stuck with AT&T slow EDGE network, and the whole thing sinks.

The iPod interface is cool, but that's not why you drop the big $$ for.

By comparison, my Motorolla Q, which has been out for more than a year can stream live videos, browse the web, take pictures, download and manage files (another thing that iPhone can't do) much much better,

Now, if you want to look at a really revolutionary product, take a look at Apple TV... that's truly amazing and opens so many doors.

Susan956 said...

o.s. However, isn't there an inherent contradiction in that the phone simply isn't living up to expectations for many? You look online at critical reviews and then at an array of user blogs you see a raft of critique such as ramziz has offered and, indeed, many people are questioning, as Piotr did, the 'pace' of this technology against others globally.

I agree, design IS important however I must admit watching men with cramped fingers in odd positions trying to work features on current technology - I related again to ramziz's post on that.

I perceive, on these matters, the consumer base being split into 3 rough groups. People like me who are not, for various reasons, engaged in buying 'new-on-the-market' toys, super tech savvy people who generally wait until a second gen comes in (tho I think iPod challenged this) and then people who trade off issues of functionality et al for OTHER functions and for the appeal of 'new' ways of doing/being/using.

I'm actually glad to see the critical awareness here. I've said it before; in many ways the consumer base is more knowledgeable than ever before and designers/manufacturers would do well to listen. Researching through an array of forums, newsgroups et al is very informative these days.

Also glad to see new 'faces' on 'Connect'. :)

Susan956 said...

And now boys and girls..the gPod Vibrator. One presumes your partner on the other end of the phone would refrain from suddenly erupting into a long piercing scream or blowing a car horn into the mouth piece..

Remotes on such devices have been popular in the BDSM/Goth culture for a long while..this is just a technology amendment and upgrade.,23599,22146863-23109,00.html?from=mostpop

the paper bicycle; Peter Scarks said...

I bought a Newton.
I know what Apple do.
They release the prototype and build the community and then release the product to satisfy the supercolony. Then they challenge the convention of the supercolony by releasing the experience. then they disrupt everything by making the hypercolony think the woman has actually been sawn in half. Then they make great speeches.
Ive and Jobs are better than Penn and Teller.

Kevin Roberts said...

O.S - You’ve pretty much nailed it. I absolutely agree that there are phones out there that will do more tricks. But what makes the iPhone so attractive has less to do with technical bells and whistles and more to do with sensual appeal and forward thinking design.