BECAUSE I BELIEVE technology should help people who face challenging hurdles in communications, I am planning to fund the purchase of an iPhone for a deaf student. The student needs to have web access without tying up a computer in school. I'm doing this because I have a known bias for Nokia and I have to work through that bias by feeling the pain associated with going across to the other side. The pain also comes attached with a large dose of personal reflection about the ingrained prejudice I have as a prosumer. I simply forget that most people do not use their phones for high-resolution photography, mail filtering, group text, podcast management and music playback. Because I like my Nokia and SonyEricsson phones to do these things with dedicated buttons or icons, I forget that I am not writing for the mass market because most people simply don't care about all that functionality on their phones. People want to carry sweet things. They want their phones to do few things beautifully rather than many things that misfire when running together. They don't seem to mind when encountering memory errors, even though phone reviewers bang their fists on the table whenever those restrictions appear on screen. (Note the 8MB limit on the iPhone.) The young teens we train in social media pull out their phones when asked to shoot photos of bling. It's all in the form factor of their phone and the iPhone form factor wins the day. Add to that form factor the fun factor enjoyed when actually using the iPhone to do things.
Behind the iPhone's form factor is a telling statistic revealed by Google. When Robert Scoble talked to a Google executive, they shared inside information that showed how Google is seeing "far higher usage on the iPhone than any other device that Google’s apps and services are on". Scoble speculates this is happening because the iPhone's user interface offers a thrilling interaction when sliding around on electronic maps, web pages or nicely formatted web mail. Nokia knows this and has already shifted considerable energy behind developers who are going to unfurl some very potent software that makes Apple's "really really really lame software developer platform" (Scoble's words) look even more embarrassing.
The iPhone proves it pays to start with the front-end experience for customers and then to design towards the back-end to power that front-end screen. Apple engineered this experience correctly. My 80-year-old mom knows that and wondered if I had an old iPhone I wasn't using anymore. Mom has never asked me for one of my old phones. Mom has never wanted a smart phone. Mom considers the iPhone to be a smart phone for dummies and feels qualified to ask for one. So right after the deaf student, we'll have mom's Christmas present sorted without locking her into two years of ransom paid to AT&T.
Now, back to reading how to use an iPhone without the two-year AT&T contract.
Robert Scoble -- "iPhone vs Nokia 95 a Month Later" is a blog post containing a boatload of misinformation about Nokia Series 60 products and over-the-counter standard packages.
Previously -- "Using the Nokia 95 to Write About the iPhone"