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.