Five Years Too Late

October 17, 2009

An iPhone Mea Culpa

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiveyearstoolate @ 8:05 am
Eric Wiesen

Eric Wiesen

When the iPhone was released a couple of years ago, people lined up for a day or more to be the first one on their block to buy one. I wasn’t one of them.

When the first of my friends started walking around with them, I tried the device out and liked elements of the interface, but was generally unimpressed with the speed, the typing experience and the battery life. I remember remarking to a couple of people that I’d be ready to buy one of these when the third-generation of hardware was released. I stuck with my Blackberry, which worked, pulled down my email without any headaches, had a tactile keyboard and a good battery life.

About a month ago I decided to make the switch. My trusty Blackberry Bold (a comment on the velocity of device development that something I’d owned for less than a year could be considered “trusty”) had a big crack in the screen, so I needed to get a new phone. I was seeing so many company pitches that either revolved around or contained an iPhone application as a core component that it started to feel like a professional hindrance to be without one. So I picked up an iPhone 3GS and braced myself for frustrating episodes of tapping out the letters of every email and text.

A month later, I’m inclined to say that the iPhone is the first device I’ve owned since my Gen-1 TiVo back in 2001 that simply has to be owned to be totally understood. The way that I interact with data, with the web and with location-based services is qualitatively different with this device than it has been with any of the smartphones I’ve owned since I picked up my first Treo in 2003. The typing experience, despite my skepticism, genuinely does improve with a few weeks of experience and a little faith in the auto-correct.

And so at this point I am quite and totally sold. There are none so righteous as the newly converted, and so two years late to the party I find myself evangelizing for a device that half the people I know already have. But the truth is, there is something discontinuous about the iPhone that I simply hadn’t perceived when I was simply borrowing someone else’s device. Native apps that take advantage of location and richer data sources are so dramatically superior in interactivity and transaction capabilities that I find my use of services with this device to be better in an increment similar to the one I saw when I went from a feature phone to a smart phone in the first place.

I should point out that some people I know who’ve been on this train since the beginning have told me I’m getting to the party at exactly the right time – that my instinct that the third-generation device would be the first one that really “just works” was correct. And perhaps this is the case – it is only recently that the iPhone began to play nicely with Microsoft Exchange, which we use at RRE. When I set my iPhone up, it immediately sync’ed with my email and calendar, something I understand was deeply frustrating with earlier revisions. The battery life is tolerable, the network speed is fine (could clearly be better, but I don’t find that it hinders my use) and the app store is at scale. None of these would have been true had I bought a gen-1 device in 2007.

Ultimately, I was an iPhone skeptic for quite some time. Now that I’m officially converted, this serves as my mea culpa.

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  1. Welcome to the iPhone club. Two years late is an improvement from ‘five years too late’ so congratulations on stepping it up!

    Comment by Jonathan W — October 17, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  2. i’m still rather use my bb

    Comment by eazyshare — October 18, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  3. Now they just need to get rid of AT&T and it would be perfect. I have stood by my iphone for two years and carried both that and a blackberry, but considering moving my “fun phone” to the new android from the iphone because I am so mad about the AT&T service. I get voicemails a week late, i get dropped calls all the time and 3G access is so limited in NYC that it feels like it does not exist.

    Comment by Serge Kassardjian — October 19, 2009 @ 10:10 am

    • You know, I’ve heard a lot of people express this same sentiment. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve had fewer problems with AT&T than just about anyone else. I haven’t had more than a couple of dropped calls (certainly no more than I had with my blackberry or my Treo before that) and haven’t had the kind of 3G problems you describe.

      Now, the question of the new Droid phone from Motorola/Google/Verizon is a separate one entirely and worthy of its own discussion. But personally I won’t be ready to even consider it as an “iPhone-killer” until I’ve spent time with it and seen that it gets so many little things right the way the iPhone does. Based on my previous experience with Moto, I’m skeptical, but we’ll see. The Palm Pre was supposed to kill the iPhone too. Webkit, tactile keyboard, faster network…

      Comment by fiveyearstoolate — October 19, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  4. Yes, but can you convince SJE to jump back onto the iPhone bandwagon after he abandoned it earlier this year?

    Comment by PVSB — October 20, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  5. I’m glad to see your post.I’m trying to find a VC that understand the business that I’m in, which is network optimization. Network optimization is what makes your iphone work fast or slow. People think it’s all about the device but that’s not true. It’s more about the network…

    I developed a revolutionary software to do network optimization automatically, and beyond the human capabilities of engineers. I ran out of money and need finance to build the company but I have the feeling that since I’m not in the business of social website stuff… It looks not so obvious to make vc’s understand that to enjoy doing facebook, youtube, received emails and do video-conference on your iphone, wireless carriers need my software to really provide that to you.Do you want to have a look into my company?

    Comment by wpo-tech — December 5, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

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