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Sunday, December 09, 2007

myPhone: The Really, Really Big Review

The iPhone is a success. For everyone who thought that it would limp out of the gate and have little to no effect on the cell phone industry, it would be a good time to look for a little crow. Regardless of the final number sold, the iPhone has done a number of things that truly define success and truly define innovation.

First, the iPhone has changed consumer expectations of how a cell phone should work, how it should appeal to the senses, and how beautifully the interface works. It also showed that a good chunk of the public was willing to pay for their phones if only those phones were actually good. It isn’t just the well-to-do or people who need the constant contact of a smart phone that went crazy for the iPhone; it was people who liked the idea of an easy-to-use almost smart phone that integrated useful features in a stylish package.

Which isn’t to say that the iPhone is perfect or even that its features are for everyone. It’s just to say that this imperfect (I would still suggest that Apple released a stable beta on a willing public and that is just now getting close to a fully functional release) phone from Apple has not only sold well, but it has changed the industry. That Apple accomplished this with their first shot at the industry has to have the bigger players feeling a little nervous.

Apple didn’t achieve the feat without engineering a beautiful piece of technology.

The first and most important thing to the iPhone’s success is the interface. The touchscreen, which lets users interact with the phone in an simple way, is only part of the story. The organization and simplicity of the thing make it quick to learn, but the hidden features (like double tapping on a browser window to zoom in and then zoom out on a section of the screen) make it an absolute joy to use. It works well not just because most of the bits are so well designed, but because it encourages discovery.

Yes, that makes it sound a little like a toy, but that isn’t the right way to view the achievement. It is an incredibly useful phone with powerful network capabilities that opened my eyes to the possibilities of a cell phone. My last cell phone--a Motorola SLVR--had some of the same features as my iPhone. At least, it listed those features in the ads.

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