iPhone, My Gateway Gadget Of Choice

On June 8, 2009

On the eve of WWDC I got to thinking about how the iPhone. Released less than two years ago it has changed mobile phones and handheld computing forever.  Along the way it has completely transformed the technology I own and the way I use it. A few thoughts…

I never planned on getting an iPhone- quite the contrary actually. Two years ago this time I watched the excitement mount as the release of the initial iPhone drew near with a sense of scorn. (Yes, Scorn!) I referred to the people jumping on the device as lemmings. I laughed at the "closed-offness" of the platform, the use of only web apps the uber-control Apple was already demonstrating in its regard.  I could not believe people actually camped out for it.

I had no interest in the iPhone whatsoever… except as fodder for jokes. Then one day all that changed…

In late July my friend Andy came to visit us up in the mountains of Pennsylvania where we were on vacation. Within minutes of entering the house Andy pulled out his iPhone. It was a technological "ah ha!" moment if there ever has been one. It was sleek. It was responsive. It actually made web browsing a pleasure. And what sealed the deal for me… the handoff between Edge data and WiFi was seemless. It was like at first multi-touch.

I knew then that I would eventually have one and, while coming home from work about a week later I stopped in to AT&T just to check it out a bit more and walked out with a brand new, 16 GB iPhone. When I got home my wife took one look at it and said, "Well that took longer than I expected."

And that’s where I figured it would end.

I figured the iPhone would just be for play and my WindowsMobile device would remain my workhorse device. In fact, when I told my friend Jamie, with whom I had laughed about the iPhone long and hard, about it I was also clear about my plans for it. I wrote…

Yep- went to check it out and was blown away— not giving up my windows mobile for work but this thing is just fun

Jamie then called me a "traitor" and proceeded to ask me if I would be dropping my tabletpc and Dell desktop within the week. To this I replied,

Let me be clear—
the desktop—a dell
the tablet- a fuji
the work phone- an htc device running windows mobile

And I was serious about it. I really got the iPhone as a secondary device for web browsing, music and video. It was intended as a PMP on steroids (if you will) and I had no plan to use it beyond that.

Yet I became so enamored of the iPhone, its tight integration with the maps program, the fantastic touchscreen and the remarkable browsing experience that, within a few weeks it was the only device I was carrying. Then, a few weeks later, realizing how much I was enjoying the experience of using OS X iPhone, I decided to check out the entry level MacBook. It wasn’t long before my local Apple Retail Store began to have a magnetic pull sucking me toward it and it became "All Apple, All The Time" for me. I had joined the ranks of the lemmings… and LIKED IT.

A bit more than a year and a half later I have an iMac on my desk, a MacBook in my briefcase, an Apple TV in the den and a number of different iPhones and iPods. In addition my wife is back to using Macs again (I converted her when we first met), my mom has a Mac and most of the top colleagues with whom I work are now using Macs and iPhones. That one iPhone my buddy brought to the lake has changed my whole work process and, in the process, sold a few dozen products for Apple to a host of people associated with me. AND, preferring a physical keyboard, Andy doesn’t even use an iPhone any longer.

It hasn’t all be smooth sailing, though.

The first iPhone was limited to using web apps if you wanted to do anything beyond the sock apps included by Apple. The bluetooth was (and remains) crippled. The reception was mediocre at best.

When iPhone 2.0 was released it was a whole new world. 3rd Party apps were now loadable and with them new possibilities became available. Oh, and the new OS introduced something else… instability! Yes, iPhone 2.0 was a horror. It crashed all the time and made the whole experience a nightmare. It wasn’t long before it was fixed, though, and the iPhone went back to being the amazing device we had grown to know and love. The limitations, such a crippled Bluetooth and lack of cut and paste remained however.

So now comes iPhone Act 3. We are hours away from a new OS and new hardware. It will be more powerful, will remedy some of the most blatant shortcoming and push the iPhone out further in front of the pack. And to think, two years ago this time I didn’t have a single Apple product. Yes, the iPhone truly is a gateway gadget if there ever were one. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.