This post is written by Alexander van Elsas. Alexander writes daily on his social media weblog, and is a regular contributor to the WinExtra blog by Steven Hodson.
This is my first post in what I hope will be a regular contribution to winextra.com. When Steven asked me to write on his blog I didn’t hesitate long. I have always enjoyed reading Steven’s posts and I’m honored that he thought of me when looking for regular contributors. For those of you that haven’t heard of me before, a little background on what drives me when writing.
I see myself as a person understanding technology (developments), but I’m not fascinated by the technology (development) itself. What I do care and get passionate about is the “first use” of new technology. First use is a term I have used throughout my career to describe the most important aspect of new technology, the first use of it by a user. We can spend a lot of time developing the best, most high tech, innovative technology (solution) that we can think of. In the end all that matters is if it solves a need or problem for the person using that technology. The basic challenge is always the same. Is a user willing to put in the effort to learn about this new technology and incorporate it in his current habits? The answer in any case is that willingness is related to either solving a problem or creating another type of value for the user. If this isn’t obvious from the start, then the user is not committed to put in the effort of integrating this technology into his life.
From a first use point of view I would like to argue that the hype over the new iPhone is greatly exaggerated. I find the iPhone to be a mediocre mobile phone. I realize this is not a popular stance. I feel that Apple has designed a fantastic handheld computer device that has very poor mobile phone capabilities.
The iPhone fails in the most basic usage of a mobile phone, calling and SMS. It is as simple as that. This is an estimated 1 Trillion dollar business world wide! While the USA lags behind in SMS, the rest of the world produces 5-10 SMSes on average per user per day. SMS is a $ 100BLN business. A business larger than ALL social media and advertisement business on the entire web! Probably less than 5% of that big pile of revenues goes to data services. It will be growing for sure the coming years. But $ 1000 BLN is a really big number.
When we get all excited about the iPhone it isn’t due to its phone capabilities. We are excited about its ability to browse the web, to act like a small yet powerful handheld computer, and the WOW effect it has on others.
But the iPhone fails at very simple mobile phone tasks:
- Try walking around, or driving in you car and then call someone. Calling is the most used functionality on the move. But when your body is actually moving, or you need to have your attention to more than the screen, it is nearly impossible to select a contact using the touch screen and the contact list interface. I have made numerous phone calls to people I didn’t want to call simply because I failed to select the right contact. And when I did succeed to make the call, it got disconnected randomly. Either because I touched the screen by accident or because of poor reception quality.
- Try typing an SMS. Notice that the touch screen and the interface provided literally suck all of your attention into the screen. Now try to type blind, or try to move your body and type. It is impossible not to make mistakes. And if you are concentrated enough you will bump into anything as you find you can’t walk and type at the same time.
- The iPhone battery performs poorly. With the increased feature set comes a power drain. A well performing battery is one of the most important features to me. But when I use the iPhone normally I’m forced to carry around cables to be able to charge it, afraid I won’t make it through a day. Arguably, this is an issue that most modern phones perform badly on. But even my Nokia N95 did a better job at it.
I believe that Steve Job did a much better job at creating a desire for the iPhone than actually bringing us a better mobile phone. It has set many new standards. The touch screen, the way you browse the web and operate the User Interface are truly unique. It makes the iPhone an interesting handheld computer. But all of these great innovations and UI novelties can’t mask that the iPhone fails the First Use experience with respect to the 2 most important functionalities of a mobile phone.
There are other area’s in which the iPhone could improve. The camera sucks compare to the 5Mpix standard that has been set by competitors (the Carl Zeiss Tessar-lens 5 Mpix camera build into the Nokia N95). The lack of flash support makes browsing the web a challenge as the rest of the world does support and use flash in web sites. It lacks the tactile feedback needed to type blindly, and an interface that supports common day use.
While the world, lead by Saint Jobs, might run away with the new iPhone, I’m hoping that companies like Nokia and maybe even Google will challenge the iPhone and set even better standards. We will all benefit from this. I’m with Fred Wilson on this one. Maybe the new Google phone will become a new dream phone. I sure hope it will provide better support for calling and SMS