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iPhone Observations
Benjamin J. Higginbotham
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 WMExperts.com.  As such Dieter has a lot of love for the Windows Mobile platform and not so much for the iPhone.  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 HTC to Palm to Nokia and Motorola, 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?



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Comments

1. Posted by: Dieter Bohn on October 17, 2007 1:56 PM:

Sorry I didn't say hi here sooner.

Here's my take on our email debate.

As for the iPhone being the "go to" device for your crowd, that's a little surprising to me. I also hang out with a geeky crowd - and generally I find I'm the go-to guy whatever device i'm carrying. Are you sure it's the iPhone that does it, or maybe you're just better at technology than other folks. Hi Ed!

;-)

All in good fun, of course. Thanks for starting the conversation!




2. Posted by: Benjamin Higginbotham on October 17, 2007 3:02 PM:

To answer your question, since Cariann gets the same request and the crowd I hang out with is geeky enough to know how to use their own devices, yeah... Pretty sure it's the device.

It was an interesting observation. It didn't happen when I had my Treo. Maybe I should switch back :)




3. Posted by: Surur on October 17, 2007 3:28 PM:

"Believe it or not, I'm not an iPhone fanboy."

Sure you are not...




4. Posted by: Cariann on October 17, 2007 4:54 PM:

Hey now! Are you trying to say that all that new found attention is just because I have an iPhone???

Actually Dieter, I would have to agree with Ben. (And not because I'm supposed to.) But all in all, I wouldn't exactly say that our "crowd" is all that more techie than yours...
So, I guess it is the device.

sigh




5. Posted by: Derek on March 16, 2008 7:57 PM:

lol im a WM fanboy, but ill try to be as neutral as i can.

iphone: best ipod ever with a phone and an awesome web browser (beats out every wm one out right now). very good for on buniness people doing more techie stuff because you can do everything so easily. i have an iphone and htc touch, and with the iphone, i cna get things done MUCH faster

wm: for me, its awesome because i like to bring my device everywhere i go and have just about my whole computer wiht me. i probably like wm because i have a windows computer at home, but thats another debate (mac vs windows x]] ). windows mobile has a lot more features, but you have to pay for most of the good ones andits harder to get to them than the iphone.

btw, im hte only geek my gang...




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