Thursday, July 5, 2007

I'm not at all excited about the iPhone

And why should I be?

First of all, the biggest offense about the iPhone is not the price but the exclusive deal with AT&T. This is not only an issue for non-AT&T subscribers who will have to change providers if they want one bad enough (or start an additional plan with AT&T). The problem is that while AT&T is pretty big, they aren't the biggest. We commonly assume that Verizon is the biggest - after all, that is their marketing campaign. I don't know that Verizon isn't the biggest, but they don't service the rural area where I live. However, regional provider Alltel does, and they're not known around here as "No-tel" for nothing. Alltel uses Verizon's towers, and my wife had Alltel for some time. Sometimes she would have to stick her head out a window, and sometimes she'd have to walk down the driveway. (Obviously using the phone in bad weather posed a problem.) We don't have experience with AT&T, but they weren't out here before they acquired Cingular, who we do have experience with. Again, indirectly - T-Mobile uses both Cingular and Suncom towers (and provides free roaming). In Greenville (the nearest city) we would be on Suncom towers, but out here in the country, it would be Cingular, and the service was terrible. One bar at most, calls dropped frequently - it was a nightmare.

OK, we live in the country. Fair enough, but in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA, my brother once had AT&T service, through AT&T themselves. If he was in a call and drove through the intersection of Farmers Lane and Highway 12 East, the call would drop. No service at the intersection, which is home to an IHOP, used to be home to a Lyon's (like an upscale Dennys), a high-class hotel (The Flamingo), and a liquor store. Maybe these businesses on the corners would get signal, but the intersection wouldn't. This was in a town of about 175,000. (Yeah, it was a town... It's hard to think of Rose Town as a "City".) So anyway, you're in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, whatever, your iPhone works great. Once you leave the city, however, your iPhone is nothing more than an iPod with a touch screen and more features.

And the price! Who do they think they're fooling? Well, the early adopters, of course. I confess, my first DVD burner was $500 and my first CD burner was $325. So I've played the fool myself a time or two. But I just look at these and Sony's PlayStation 3 - $499 for the base model that nobody wants but does some of the same things and makes you part of the club, and $599 for the real deal - and sit back in amazement, that someone would pay so much for such a limited device.

Let me tell you - there is one feature only that I envy on the iPhone - Web surfing. That would be kind of nice to do on my own cell phone, as my own phone - the Kyocera KX-5 Slider Remix - has this inspired-by-AOL limited "EasyEdge" web where you can only surf within the predetermined Channels. Still, I can get the news from Yahoo and read Dear Abby, which is kind of like Jerry Springer in a text-based format, at times. But my phone has what apparently the iPhone does not - a microSD (aka Transflash) port. The phone's manual says I can go up to 512MB (which I have) but people online post results with the 1GB and the 2GB, although they also report problems. My phone plays video clips (converted to the 3GP format) and mp3 files (both songs in the music player, and as ringtones). I can make my own wallpapers converted from images on my computer, and I can assign images from my computer as caller IDs. (I wouldn't use its camera, which is pathetic.) So as it is I feel as though I have the best overall phone. Our provider is regional, so you might not have heard of US Cellular. But their service has been great over the 8 months we've been with them. Sure, we've had a couple dropped calls, but so far their service has no dead zones. Even outside their territory here in Eastern NC - we went to Connecticut and back last December - their service is still good. We'll test them in Myrtle Beach, SC this coming weekend and all over Northern CA this November.

Apple is a pretty good company that I like and have a decent amount of respect for. Steve Jobs is a mad genius, but more often than not he knows what he's doing. The problem with Apple, however, is they've never wanted to appeal to the common man. They've always wanted to be part of an exclusive club. Their stuff usually doesn't work with competitor's products. They've done a little collaboration with Microsoft on some things - well, sure, they'd want professionals to be able to exchange documents and such - hence, the Mac version of Office. And Quicktime and Safari, which both started out as Mac-only perks, are now available to regular PCs as well. (Yes, you can now use Safari on a PC, but it's too late - Firefox already dominates the power user market and for good reason.) But Apple's stuff has always looked good. Before the iPod, Mp3 players were ugly, for the most part. Their computers have always been easy on the eyes, and I still think the most beautiful monitor is the Apple Cinema Display 30" model, but at $100/1" (so to speak) it had better be, right? (To compare, my monitor cost us $28.12½/1" and it's a 32".) Undeniably, the iPhone is a beautiful phone. But is it really the fairest? Call me biased, but I still think my Kyocera KX-5 Slider Remix is in the running. Verizon's (Motorola's?) En-V and Chocolate are pretty nice phones, too, and so is the Helio Ocean dual-slider. Because in the end, all an iPhone is, is a bulky solid-state phone with a touch screen.

PC World put out this great article which I must admit is the inspiration for this blog (along with some of my own beef, of course), called "iPhone vs. Your Phone: Avoiding iPhone Envy". Sure, it assumes you have a phone as good as mine (such as a RAZR/KRZR) but it's a great article. So I give credit as well as thanks to the author and publishers of this article here. And while I'm giving out thanks, generous thanks go to Wikipedia for the links here; except for the article in this paragraph, the rest point to informative pages on Wikipedia, where you truly can find (just about) anything you're looking for. Look up your hometown, your workplace, your car, or anything you're interested in. (No, I'm not trying to advertise for them, but they are one of my favorite websites.)

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