The iPhone has been out for a few months now and there's still quite a bit of
debate behind the device. Dieter Bohn is an old friend and principle writer for
As such Dieter has a lot of love for the
and not so much for the
Needless to say Dieter and I have had more than one exchange on the iPhone vs.
other platforms. I thought he had some valid arguments (don't tell him I
said that) but after observing just how users actually interact and use their
devices, now I'm not so sure. Because of many of the iPhone vs Touch
conversations that Dieter and I have had I decided to start looking more closely
at how people actually use their smart phones.
I hang out with a geeky crowd (*gasp*). It's rare when we don't all have a
smart phone of sorts. From
one of my friends has just about any smart phone made (and many have phones that
you can't actually get in the US). We go to dinner, we hang out and we
have fun. When it's time to actually find information online everyone
turns to me, the iPhone user of the group. Without fail it's expected that
either I'll look up the information for them or I'll pass over my iPhone so they
can look it up themselves. This hasn't happened just one or two times, but
literally dozens of times. These users have smart phones of their own and
they almost all have a smart phone on a WAN that is far, far faster than my
crappy EDGE service. Being that my wife also has an iPhone she is victim of this
iPhone phenomena too. I have had HTC Touch, Nokia N95, Palm Treo
700p/700wx/755p users all pass by their own devices on high-speed networks in
favor of the iPhone without a second thought.
This "non-business" iPhone is serious business too. While at lunch with a
co-worker who has a Treo 700wx a bunch of server alerts went off. I got
these in my e-mail before he did (so much for push e-mail), was able to go to 5
different testing sites and resolve the issue on my EDGE connection all before
he was able to open even the first site to start troubleshooting on his EVDO
connection. WiFi wasn't available at that restaurant. When a group e-mail
goes out and we're at lunch, other recipients at the table will forgo their own
devices and ask to see the message on my iPhone. Unlike the WM and Palm
users who can't see many of the inline attachments or HTML messages, I see the
entire message which makes it much easier to actually reply to the message and
conduct business on the road. The argument has been "all you need in
e-mail is text". The reality is that HTML is in e-mail and sometimes you
need to be able to read and reply to that on the go.
The most interesting aspect of the iPhone that makes it an invaluable business
and marketing tool for me isn't the amazing e-mail or web browser. The
most impressive part of the iPhone is video.
I had no idea how much I would be showing people video of things we had done or
showing a YouTube video of a story we were talking about. I thought video
and YouTube playback on the iPhone would be all fluff. I was wrong.
It's this aspect that allows me to engage clients, show them what I mean without
having to bring them back to the office. Video is incredibly dynamic and
engaging. The iPhone does a fantastic job of not only marketing itself but
helping me market myself too.
At the end of the day this is a business communications tool that I need to help
me make money. It's not about features, installable apps, EDGE vs EVDO vs
HSDPA/HSUPA. The device is a tool as is any smart phone. It has
taken me a very long time to realize that the numbers just don't matter if you
can't use the device like you want to. While the iPhone may not have some
of the cool wizbang numbers on bandwidth, processor speed or installable apps,
it does one thing very, very, very well: be a smart, smart phone.
Believe it or not, I'm not an iPhone fanboy. Around the office I have been
giving Apple a very hard time about a lot of decisions they have made regarding
the iPhone. When I took a step back and really looked at how people were
using their smart phones I was simply amazed at how much of the iPhone is
utilized and how little of these other devices are. Is it a testament to
Apple or a wake up call for everyone else?