Screaming Into The Abyss

Why I don't have an iPhone
By Ben Zvan
On July 06, 2007 at 10:27
Product Reviews

The iPhone is truly a revolutionary device, but not because it plays music, browses the internet, and makes phone calls. Lots of "Smartphones" and even a bunch of dumb phones do that. What makes it revolutionary is the way that it does these things. And, in a nutshell, that's why I don't have one.

My Palm Treo 600 for example can do all of these things and more. I've downloaded TCPMP for media playing, including video and audio, but the 128MB card is a little light for putting any real content on. The iPhone has 8GB of memory for music and video and a pretty sweet multi-touch interface. The Treo has a phone with picture caller ID, SMS messaging and a great, mobile web browser. The iPhone does all this without a keyboard, you know, because of that sweet multi-touch interface. The addition of a la carte voice mail access is pretty clever too.

Overall, I'm really impressed with how slick, intuitive and effective the iPhone is at what it does, but there are some problems that I'll point out in a nice bulleted list that Apple is free to use as a checklist for getting me to buy one.

  • Exclusive to Cingular/AT&T: This is a problem, because those two (now one) companies have been at the bottom of the list for quality of service for a while now. Here, I'm holding out for either better service from the existing carrier, or an unlocked iPhone.
  • Only 8GB: Current generation iPods have 80GB of storage space, my old 40GB iPod is full to the brim with music and podcasts and I'm supposed to fit music, podcasts and video into 8GB? I don't think that's going to happen. Now maybe if you could stream content from your computer at home...
  • No iChat: The only "chat" function on the iPhone is SMS messaging, not even MMS messaging. That great photo you just took of your buddy dropping his iPhone right after taking it out of the box? Yeah, you'll have to email it, not send it through MMS. iChat AV would be a truly "killer app" for the iPhone, but it would cut into the provider's pockets too much if people could use their unlimited data plan to have audio and video conferences rather than their minutes. (Incidentally, this touches on the ridiculousness of paying for minutes in the first place and the disturbing trend of paying for content, not service.)
  • No 3G Support: I was all over GSM when it became the world standard and now I'm all over 3G. Everyone else is jumping on this one too. The data rate is just too slow to be really practical for browsing the internet. I use my Treo for web access sometimes, and it's painful. I only do it when I really need to.
  • No 3rd Party Apps: Also touted as a great way to circumvent the included minutes in your wireless plan, 3rd party apps are critical for any platform. Without 3rd party access, I couldn't have the OED on my phone. And I like having an OED on my phone. Right now, developers are limited to building web-based applications for the iPhone; but what if I'm on a plane?
  • Waaay too expensive: I realize that puts me outside of the iPhone's intended demographic, but I was willing to put up $200 for my Treo. The original price for the Treo 600 was also $599, so I have high hopes for Apple here.

Anyway, do I want an iPhone? Sure, but I'm going to wait. In the mean time, my Treo serves me fairly well despite its age and limitations. I'm also looking forward to some of this technology filtering down to new iPods for those of us not quite ready to replace everything in their pockets

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