Friday, July 31, 2009

Apple, How did you get the iPhone so wrong?

Let's get one thing straight: whilst all sorts of people, including Apple, no doubt, think that the iPhone is some sort of fancy portable information device, most of us buy it primarily as a phone.
I changed to an iPhone recently, from a 3 year old Sony Ericsson. As a phone the iPhone sucks in comparison to my old Sony Ericsson (SE). Three years, by the way, is like grandfather to grandson in generational terms - it's huge.
Just for context I've been a Mac user since 1986 and I've lived through this before. The Mac finally delivered on its promise with OS X. It took a long time to get there.
So what's wrong with the iPhone? Well let's be specific about this. Let's look at some "core" features we need in any phone before we add all the bells and whistles.
Syncing: With the SE it automatically connects to my MacBook via Bluetooth and syncs seamlessly using Apple's iSync. The iPhone on the other hand won't use Bluetooth to hookup and sync with the Mac. Why not!!! Bluetooth is simple and effective. Why on earth not?
Texting: The SE has predictive text that means that for most words I only have to push a couple of buttons on the keypad and it predicts the word. It's amazingly accurate and amazingly fast. The iPhone says it has predictive text all I can say is it doesn't propose anything, it's slow, the onscreen keys are too small for my fingers. The iPhone is slow and clumsy by comparison to the SE.
Sharing Contacts: Using the SE I do this every day. I use Bluetooth, I send a universally accepted vCard and I can send any of my contacts to anyone with Bluetooth and they can universally accept the contact - no special software needed. The iPhone is simply crap in this regard. I can send a contact - but I can't use Bluetooth to do it. I can download all sorts of apps to beam vCards via Bluetooth but all of the apps need to be on both ends of the deal or I need to use a paid service. This is crap - the iPhone strikes a giant step backward for functionality. I can send a vCard via MMS but many mobiles - perfectly good mobiles that know how to handle a vCard - don't recognise the iPhone's vCard for what it purports to be. And it costs me money for the MMS.
Battery Life: Well what can I say - the SE will do at least 2 days on a charge and sometimes more. The iPhone struggles to do a day. That's progress!
Call Management: On the SE I can choose what happens to calls when the phone is busy, when it doesn't answer...there's amazing granularity. On the iPhone I can either divert all calls or not. That's functionality from the early days of GSM. Another great step forward for progress!!
That's just a start but you get the picture. What this says to me is that in the core area of functionality - a 3G phone - the iPhone does a poor job. The interface is clumsy, the lack of alerts is stupid, and the mid-90s functionality is bizarre. I wish someone would explain this to me. And please don't tell me what the iPhone can do with other iPhones - that's like masturbation - interesting, handy if there's nothing else, but ultimately pointless.
It seems to me that the only people to benefit out of the iPhone are the Telcos and Apple.

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