Apple’s iPhone is on the verge of release and the ads posted on their website reveal a user interface that is one of the most sexy and compelling ones I’ve ever seen. Browsing through your MP3 collection, using the sliding animation on the touch screen is a brilliant effect, and turning the phone on its side turns the MP3 list into a graphical representation of the actual CD covers, just like the iTunes program. It perfectly mimics flipping through record albums (yes, albums!) just like in the old days, that is, if you remember the old days.
In addition to Bluetooth it has wireless internet connectivity and can pick up and use a signal from any nearby unsecured connection instead of from a ridiculously expensive internet plan from your provider. C’mon, we all leach free access when we’re out and about with our laptops..by the way, whatever happened to the ubiquitous and free wifi cloud that big cities were trying to implement? But that’s another story for another day…
By using the wifi connection, you can look up, say, a restaurant and be served a map of its location. Touch the location, get served all the particulars including reviews, touch the phone number and be connected. It’s an amazing piece of software engineering and starts to show the promise of portable information and communications.
But where the iPhone falls flat (besides Apple’s usually inflated list price which will be $499 for a 4 gig model and $599 for an 8 gig model), for me at least, is its dependence on one single provider, ATT Cingular. I used to have Cingular service here in LA, and it was one of the most consistently poor services I have ever used. No matter where I was in the city, almost every call was dropped. It didn’t matter what model phone I used, it happened every time. I have since switched to T-Mobile and the experience has been exactly the opposite in every way, including its terrific customer service. For me, this is the single most reason not to buy the iPhone. It should’ve been made available in an unlocked version so that customers could truly use their own instincts and experience in choosing a provider. If you’re seriously considering an iPhone, make sure you check the coverage in your area before you buy.
Apple stumbled badly with their first phone collaborator, Motorola, so it will be interesting to see what happens with their first fully-branded offering. The iPhone is a compelling product with a lot of promise, but it remains to be seen if it can rise above the single-provider limitation, along with its high list price.