The iPhone is a truly revolutionary product

MobilityArena veteran, Afewgoodmen, argues passionately that the iPhone is a truly revolutionary product of the mobile age.

There are many things you may have heard about the iPhone. Some of these are good, but more often than not the comments are those of critics. When the author first heard about the iPhone it was from the hands of the latter. It appeared that the iPhone was a good for nothing device.

The iPhone is a truly revolutionary product 1

Eldar Mutazin from Mobile-review.com gave a disparaging appraisal of the iPhone and its features, several other sites also had no kind word. It was in this light that the author watched a review of the iPhone on CNN and watched the long queues a year after at the Apple stores as individuals lined up to be the first to lay their hands on the iPhone 3G. It was even christened the “Jesus phone” then because of all the emotions or commentaries that it generated, whether those comments were favourable or otherwise.

Now the question is, what is the iPhone? Has it lived up to its hype? Is there anything that it has to offer? Is it just overrated? Overblown? You may say that this article is belated and that the iphone is actually an old topic and that I shouldn’t stir up old wounds. But then the iPhone still needs to be discussed and laid bare in its intricate perspective.

Only then would you see that the iPhone is perhaps the only phone that generates such emotions from both sides of the divide. And the article becomes all the more expedient following the premise and inference from another article published recently here on MobilityNigeria, iPhone myths propagated by US bloggers. I think our readers have the right to see the two sides of the coin and make their own inexorable conclusions.

The iPhone

An unbiased mind will be the best bet to properly put the iphone in its perspective from my discourse. Just let go of any idiosyncrasy and any previous conception of what you felt you knew and let’s rediscover the iPhone all over again.

But the iPhone does not support multitask? It has no copy and paste (oops, it now has). There’s no Flash support and you are stuck with the itunes store to buy applications! You have to use itunes to sync music, videos, apps… Oh, wait, it is still very expensive.

Yes; we have heard so much about the shortcomings of the iPhone. Despite all these it is still a top seller. It still has a following. The question is, Why is this so?

Nice Design

There have been gorgeous phones before the iPhone, but among touchscreen phones, the iPhone has set the standard. It has a pretty one-off design, with an elegantly designed body, and a 3.5 inch touchscreen and metallic back finish. The battery is not replaceable. Some may think this is a minus. That may not really be the case. What it shows is quality.

Apple feels that the phone has been manufactured adequately and that the battery should not fail you. There are few manufacturers today that can survive with an irreplaceable battery on their feature phones!

The iphone 3GS has an oleophobic layer on the touchscreen which is anti-dust. Have you seen other elegant touchscreen phones before the iPhone? Maybe. Now with the advent of the iPhone, so many other manufacturers are making iPhone look-alikes and the so-called iPhone killers. And mind you, no iPhone killer really exists to this day.

Iphone OS platform

Yes, it’s true that the iPhone did not invent the mobile operating system but should I say that perhaps it re-invented it. Before the iPhone, if you purchased a 100,000 Naira feature phone and a new one comes up then that was the end of your feature phone. You may need to discard it or give it out as a gift to get the latest version. To keep up with the trend, you have to cough up more money to buy the next latest. Over more than one cycle you become filled with remorse or anger at your device manufacturer. Don’t get me wrong, there was limited firmware update alright, but that still robs you of having some of the features of the newer feature product. All these changed with Apple iphone. APPLE updated the iphone Operating System (OS) of all its older products which was of course was forward compatible with the newer versions.

To be more exact, you can own the first generation iphone and be able to upgrade to the 3rd generation OS i.e. from the 1st generation iPhone 1.0 to the iphone OS 3.0 or iPhone 3GS. The hardware remains the same but you have the feel of the fluid interface and all the improvements of the latest OS.

Now you can buy a phone and you will be rest assured that in three years time, the phone will not be outdated or obsolete. This was not so in most other manufacturers until the advent of the iphone. Samsung was a culprit, it was even applicable with windows mobile phones.

Now, we now see updates to Windows Mobile 6.1 version to 6.5 and some limited firmware updates in some Samsung phones e.g. the Samsung Omnia i8910 and some Nokia phones. Mind you, in the majority of these phones, the full OS is not updateable as is done by Apple, only the firmware or some features of the phone.

These is evident that Apple, apart from the quality assuredness of its products also gives good customer support. It makes them to be able to create tremendous customer satisfaction and following.

Apple Apps Store

Before the iphone, an application store to take care of all the third party software application needs of a smartphone was not popular. With most of the smartphone manufacturers, it wasn’t even existent. Now came along the iPhone, and Apple’s app store.

As at today, there are more than 150,000 applications in the Apple app store. The apps there are varied, ranging from productivity, kids’ stuff, games, to professional. And there are lots and lots more. There are virtually apps in all categories you can think of. A lot this is even free. Even the commercial applications have their free or lite version which you are free to use and then buy the paid and full version if you are satisfied with them.

With the success of the Apple app store, Android, Blackberry, Samsung and even Nokia (Ovi store) created their own apps store. As at today, the android store is next to the Apple apps store in terms of popularity amongst third party developers with about 20,000 applications.

Multi-touch Screen and Fluid interface

What strikes you when you pick up the iphone is its smooth and fluid interface. Simplistic, yet complex and well thought through. The productivity of use alone makes you feel contented, in awe and wonder if this equipment was not out-of-the-world!

Apple did not invent the touchscreen. And perhaps neither did Apple re-invent it. As a matter of fact, Apple probably innovated from careful engineering, R&D and acquisition, Apple created the multi-touch technology which it has patented. Back in 2005, Apple had acquired Fingerworks, a company involved in touch screen technology.

In fact, Apple pioneered the GUI (Graphical user interface) with Mackintosh in the 80s. I believe that with the convergence of these technologies, and careful research, Apple pioneered the multi-touch touchscreen technology which gives one the awesome impressions of manipulating data with the fingers.

You see the coverflow artwork in the music folder, and flip pictures with precision with the flip of your finger, you pinch to zoom photos and web pages, you manipulate games and apps with the inbuilt multi-touch and accelerometer, and the effects feel truly magical.

Many smartphone manufacturers have tried to copy this. And of course the Apple iPhone leads the pace. Apple had to sue HTC for the infringing on the multi-touch patent for their copy-cat product, the Nexus-one.

The iPhone; A pacesetter to make other phones better

Even among the iPhone’s greatest critics, they cannot honestly deny the trend that the iphone has started. Everywhere you look, you see the proliferation of touchscreen phones. And a new adjective to the Techworld vocabulary is the word; “iPhone killer”.

Throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009 we keep hearing that term “iPhone killer”. Over and over again we see new phones on launch, like the palm Pre (Doing awfully bad in sales), Blackberry Bold, the Droid, Nexus One, Samsung i8910, and the Nokia N97 with one thing in common, which was the question of if they would be the “iPhone killer”. No one would disagree with the fact that the iPhone has been a pace and trendsetter. And like the proverbial Bigfoot, we only hear of iPhone-killers, we have never ever sighted one with our eyes!

The iPhone, A True revolutionary product

To understand why the iPhone could be regarded as truly revolutionary one need to appreciate what the iPhone has done to the mobile phone world. With examples enumerated above, I believe that it isn’t too difficult to appreciate.

To look at the iPhone as a phone with some good features and with some yet missing features is to totally miss the point. If you actually do that, the good features will definitely outweigh the missing ones.

The iPhone is a brand new platform, (compared with the likes of Nokia and Blackberry, it is still in its infancy), it is an exceptionally powerful mobile computer too and is the best selling touchscreen Smartphone today.

I believe it has totally revamped the mobile market and it is the harbinger of yet better phones to come.

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12 comments

  1. A good job at presenting the iPhone’s revolutionary influence, but spoiled by a few sore points. You attempt to present yourself as unbiased in this matter, but those sore points say otherwise, and I will show why:

    1.

    And the article becomes all the more expedient following the premise and inference from another article published recently here on MobilityNigeria, iPhone myths propagated by US bloggers. I think our readers have the right to see the two sides of the coin and make their own inexorable conclusions.

    My article that you referenced above does not represent the other side of your argument or position in any way. It is not a criticism of the iPhone, neither is it an attempt to deny that the iPhone is revolutionary. It is a stating of facts to correct the lies that have been associated with the iPhone by certain people. Nothing more.

    As a matter of fact, in that article and the following discussion, I affirmed the revolutionary nature of the iPhone.

    So, while you have attempted to lump my article as a criticism or denouncing of the iPhone, the truth is that it is not. Neither am I a critic of the iPhone. Admitting the weaknesses or disadvantages of a device is not the same as being a critic of that device.

    Perhaps if you were truly as unbiased as you think you are, you would have observed other iPhone-related articles written by myself, including these two:

    1. Apple takes a Bite out of Nokia/Symbian with iPhone 3.0
    2. What Nokia Needs to Fix – Right Away!

    Let us make the distinction between being platform agnostic and being a critic. I am platform agnostic – meaning I do not drool over any phone or platform such that I gloss over its failings or weaknesses (as fanboys do whenever their favourite phone or platform is mentioned).

    I have used Nokia and Symbian devices more than any other devices, yet do not gloss over their failings and weaknesses. And I’d as soon as praise the strengths of devices from competing platforms. I will also fight to preserve truth and dispel lies, regardless of what device or platform is involved. That’s true objectivity. It is part of the reason why I have credibility in the mobile industry, even beyond the shores of this country. People know that I will not gloss over or downplay any weaknesses or failings. They rely on me to tell it as it is.

    My observation is that you tend more towards being a fanboy – meaning that you are not as unbiased as you like to think you are – and I am saying this in a friendly way. The few sore points from your article display this. The truth is that only agnostics can be truly objective.

    2.

    The battery is not replaceable. Some may think this is a minus. That may not really be the case. What it shows is quality.

    Apple feels that the phone has been manufactured adequately and that the battery should not fail you. There are few manufacturers today that can survive with an irreplaceable battery on their feature phones!

    Anyone – I really mean anyone – who knows the iPhone and is truly unbiased would fall off their seats to read that statement of yours.

    Why – one of the Archilles’ heels of the iPhone (from the first generation to the present) is the poor battery life. To attempt to dismiss that as nothing is certainly not objectiveness. What quality?

    3.

    Before the iPhone, if you purchased a 100,000 Naira feature phone and a new one comes up then that was the end of your feature phone. You may need to discard it or give it out as a gift to get the latest version. To keep up with the trend, you have to cough up more money to buy the next latest. Over more than one cycle you become filled with remorse or anger at your device manufacturer. Don’t get me wrong, there was limited firmware update alright, but that still robs you of having some of the features of the newer feature product. All these changed with Apple iphone. APPLE updated the iphone Operating System (OS) of all its older products which was of course was forward compatible with the newer versions.

    To be more exact, you can own the first generation iphone and be able to upgrade to the 3rd generation OS i.e. from the 1st generation iPhone 1.0 to the iphone OS 3.0 or iPhone 3GS. The hardware remains the same but you have the feel of the fluid interface and all the improvements of the latest OS.

    This is a hazy point. The truth is that somewhere along the line, the hardware will change. And once it does, no firmware update will make a difference. Apple has been making one range of phones since when? 2007. That’s three years. Let’s re-examine this point after 10 years and see if firmware updates can keep first generation iPhone owners up-to-date.

    Already, while 1st iPhone 2G owners can upgrade to version 3 firmware, there are features they still cannot get because those features are beyond what the hardware of the iPhone 2G can handle. And the gap will widen. But yes; Apple is doing a good job at least trying to keep all buyers happy.

    But, dear sir, Apple is already as guilty of “limited” firmware updates as any of the other manufacturers. No iPhone 2G owner who has updated to version 3 OS enjoys all the benefits of the newer firmware.

    Just to illustrate that, here is a statement from someone who is clearly pro-iPhone: “yes it does come with flaws i give you that one but the things that it does offer there is nothing that can beat it. all the rest it will eventually get with software updates over time. somehow it seems to me that they dont release certain updates on purpose, not that it wouldnt be able to handle but for some kind of sick reason that only mr. guru (jobs) knows about. Source

    4.

    Now, we now see updates to Windows Mobile 6.1 version to 6.5 and some limited firmware updates in some Samsung phones e.g. the Samsung Omnia i8910 and some Nokia phones. Mind you, in the majority of these phones, the full OS is not updateable as is done by Apple, only the firmware or some features of the phone.

    Now? Sorry, but manufacturers have been provided full firmware updates for devices before the iPhone, so that’s another iPhone myth to add to my list. I had a Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone back in the day and got it updated to 6.1. Full update.

    But I must concede, similar to what was mentioned in a recent article, Custom ROMs, Manufacturers, and Consumers, that newer OS platforms like Android, WebOS and iPhone handle the update process better.

    In all, your article is a fair attempt. You only need to work on the objectivity angle 😉

    The iPhone is indeed a revolutionary device and has put some fire under the seat of other manufacturers. Because of this, it is one device/platform that will continue to generate news for some time. The onus is on us though to sift wheat from the chaff.

    Looking forward to more articles from you.

    PS: Lastly, the term “feature phone” is used to refer to non-smartphones.

    Cheers!

  2. A dispassionate, factual and objective article!

    ‘To be more exact, you can own the first generation iphone and be able to upgrade to the 3rd generation OS i.e. from the 1st generation iPhone 1.0 to
    the iphone OS 3.0 or iPhone 3GS. The hardware remains
    the same but you have the feel of the fluid interface and
    all the improvements of the latest OS.’

    To me, this is the greatest contribution of Apple in pushing the technology ‘envelope’.

    I have always looked forward to an era where our smartphones will be capable of almost totally supplanting the conventional computer.

    And the critical aspect is the freedom to put ALMOST any mobile OS (version) on a smartphone.. After all, one of he critical functions of an Operating System is (human) interfacing with machine.

    We shall get there..

  3. @Yom; Thanks for your comments on the article. I love constructive criticism and I am grateful for your insights. One is on the meaning of the word “feature phone” which I had felt could also refer to smartphones. I have also taken time to look at your previous articles with iphone tags in which you were gracious enough to show me in your comment.

    I should say that you alluded to the fact that the iphone had credence as a force in the mobile industry earlier. I was not privy to those articles then because I was not browsing mobilitynigeria website. But I see clearly that you have a love for Nokia phones and you haven’t been too critical on the iphone in your previous articles. Yes, it is always good to see the two sides of the coin. And of course I admit that the iphone is not perfect and can never be. Nothing can be perfect in the world we live in, even jewels, not the least mobile tech products.

    2. You mentioned that the irreplaceable battery of the iphone does not bother on quality and that individuals that are unbiased may laugh at this. Perhaps you may be correct to an extent. But I just want to point out that a poor battery life does not mean loss of quality. You may be using a 1200mAh Li-Ion battery or a 800mAh Li-Ion battery. How fast you drain your battery depends on the usage and the battery strength and not necessarily that the quality of the packaging or the battery itself has poor quality. Let’s get that right! Quality is far different from quantity. You may have a power battery which last for 48 hours on a single charge but within a month it starts failing or becomes unusable. This illustration shows quantity over quality. This policy of irreplaceable battery from Apple has been working well with its teeming loyal customers. I myself prefer a replaceable battery though I am not however unmindful of the fact that that has its own disadvantage too as irreplaceable batteries has.

    3. Yes, I agree with you that to a point the hardware will not be able to catch up with the software. And I also love your statements on this issue. I also want you not to overlook the fact that OS or firmware update for a couple of cycles is not too much to ask from your mobile manufacturers after buying a phone worth more than 60,000. It would inhuman to leave such a customer in the cold.

    4.

    “Now Sorry, but manufacturers have been provided full firmware updates for devices before the iPhone, so that’s another iPhone myth to add to my list. I had a Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone back in the day and got it updated to 6.1.”

    Yes, I agree with you that manufacturers has been providing firmware updates for years. But I would like to leave you with a question; Could you update your Windows mobile from 6.x to 7.x when 7.x is available? Or let’s go back can you update a windows mobile from 5.0 to 6.0?

    6.0 to 6.1 is still the same version 6.x and is not a major OS upgrade. But 6 to 7 or 5 to 6, is what I regard as a major upgrade. A full OS upgrade is bigger and much more appreciable than just firmware update to correct one or two features. In OS upgrade there is an overhaul of the full OS. Now, honestly speaking before the iphone, was this the routine or practice? I know that you can upgrade the android OS from 1.x to 2.x now! But isn’t that after the iphone has led the pace?

    All in all, I thank you for your comment. I think we are well versed enough to sift through details in commentaries to come up with facts. You don’t believe everything you read verbatim. And it is nice we have some details sorted out.

    @ EyeBeeKay, Thanks for the comments. Yes, we’ll come to a time that human interfacing with the computer or machine will be complete. But let’s beware of Artificial intelligence and the Matrix factor (Machine trying to dominate man!). But that sounds extreme? Doesn’t it?

  4. I quite agree with EyeBeeKay. We need to have more manufacturers go the way of apple in updating the complete OS of their devices.

    Maybe someday we may even be able to change the OS of our phones from say Symbian OS to iPhone OS just like we change the OS of our laptops/desktops.

    Maybe someday we just buy a plain smartphone and install any OS we like on it.

    Just maybe……

  5. @Afewgoodmen. That was a good write up on the iphone. I was expecting “Jobs worshiping” when you first informed me of this article but what i see here is a more or less balanced point of view. Thanks for enlightening us. A question for you. Do you think iphone’s next OS will come with multitasking?

  6. @Deoladoctor; From all indication and from the word passing round in the Techworld, Multi-tasking will be one of the major features of the next 4th Generation iphone or the iphone 4.0 OS. Appleinsider gave the welcomed news about two weeks ago. According to Appleinsider “People with a proven track record in predicting Apple’s technological advances” have leaked out the info that the iphone 4.0 OS will come with multi-tasking! But well, let’s wait till June/July and see how true that is.

  7. What good is a phone if you cant use it?

    The restrictive iphone sale strategy is making the rest of us depend on third party reviews. The best review is when a user puts a phone through its paces and guages how it satisfies his/her needs.

  8. A lot of people say that the interface to any complex device (e.g a smartphone) is of paramount importance. It can make or mar the product. For example, over 80% of the millions of lines of code on Windows 95 was actually devoted to the gooey (GUI – Graphical User Interface).

    You would not want to be concerned (for instance) with the arcane details of how cruise / traction control works on your loaded iVTEC V8 car engine. You push a button, and the electronic management system kicks into action.

    Beyond the user- friendliness of the interface, howeva, you want to ensure that what is under the hood is solid and reliable. The ongoing recalls of hundreds of thousands of Toyota vehicles over SUA – sudden unintended acceleration – is apposite.

    Apart from the meretricious user interface (based strictly on what I have read), there is actually NOTHING technologically jaw-dropping about the iphone ANYMORE. Any-MORE. They pioneered the touchscreen. But the other phone makers have jumped on the bandwagon. Whether capacitive or resistive, the war is on.

    To be a leader in any field, it is essential to always be several steps ahead of the competition.

    It is my submission that, like in Lawn tennis, the day of an Ivan Lendl being Number 1 for donkey years, is over. In the technology world, you can patent all you like. Unless you keep innovating (as Intel has been doing in the microprocessor world), an AMD is perpetually technologically breathing down the leaders’ necks!

    Apple must not rest on their efffulgent laurels in other to stay ahead as an innovator. For example, the phone makes who is able to significantly and drastically extend battery life will win converts more than providing a fancy interface. Imagine a solar-powered mobile phone. Ope o!

    Most other smartphones multitask. It is taken as given. Why not the iphone.

    A fluid interface is basically a software implementation. It is easily duplicable. There are third party applications that mimick the iphone interface e.g VMenu Express.

    I hope we will continue to have true innovators in the technology world (like Apple & my beloved GOOGLE) to continue to push the frontiers of technology.

    My pedagogic nature coming to the fore again! On apologies, though!

  9. @Jmaine. Thanks. With your appreciation I feel Happy and I’d write another article titled “Connectify, the free Wifi Router Software”

    @EyeBeeKay. Sometimes One becomes Feisty and want to show some lyrical arguments. Sometimes One speaks and argue bothe sides of the fence, especially when the line between black and white are marred with different shades of gray and there isn’t any immutable yes or No answer. Yes, I also believe innovation will take us through to the next level. Innovation will improve the manufacturrers sale of mobile products and also improve the customers’ experience. And sometimes what works out of sight, underneath the hood, actually makes the car or mobile phone work seamlessly and fluidly. It is in the invisible lines of codes coupled with hardware integration with applied R&D that brings about the magical User interface and perhaps joyous car ride that we so enjoy!

    Eventually, every manufacturers will have to innovate or simulate to make a roadway.

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