Just as good as the iPhone? Ha! This isn’t 1987.

I believe that electronics consumers are savvier then they were 20 years ago, and are not as easily fooled by marketing statistics and checklists. They are a very “show me” bunch, wanting to see it before they believe it. If so, this bodes very well for Apple’s iPhone.

However, it’s clear many technicians and pundits of the world are still stuck in “statistics and checklists” land. How else to explain the belief by some that the iPhone has nothing really new to offer? It’s all been done before. They’ll mention a smartphone with a touch screen and say it’ll do email, it’ll do web, etc., as if the ability to “do” those things is all it takes to be an iPhone. These are the same type of people who felt Microsoft Windows was just like the Mac because it would “do” windows and menus.

I picked this blog entry as representative of the breed. It follows the usual formula: Pick one iPhone feature, show another phone that also has it (or at least appears to), and then claim the iPhone is nothing special:

“Many people are quick to state how “amazing” the iPhone’s interface is. Well I have news for you, Palm has had this interface since 1996, when the first Palm came out. Let us first look at a more recent Palm device, the Palm TX. Note the fact that there are icons on the screen. These icons represent applications that can be used. By tapping the touch-screen interface, you can activate a program.”

So, since Palm also launches apps with a button touch it’s no big deal. That’s it. There’s nothing to see here. But touch launching an application is hardly what sets the iPhone apart; Apple never made any great claims about it. Apple posted iPhone ads focusing on the interface. They show how different it is than anything before. To the author of that post I’d recommend “How to”. That is most definitely not a Palm!

Another example of this “just as good” philosophy is this video. The video, like the blog, shows how superficial these claims are. Someone slapped an iPhone sleep screen and main menu on a Windows phone. Big deal, yet they act like that’s all the iPhone is about. People, the devil’s in the details, and Apple sweats those, unlike Palm or Microsoft. Once you get past the iPhone-rip-off menu, the beauty stops. It’s amazing some people think the iPhone is only about the main menu, and nothing further!

For example, look at the iPhone’s web browser in “Watered Down”. Don’t just see the web page and think there may be a few phones that might render the page as well (the vast majority can’t). It goes deeper than that. See the interface customization for the smaller screen, so a double-tapped photo fills the screen while retaining full scrolling? See a double-tap on a column also fills the screen? See the swapping of landscape and portrait view, using the best for the material you’re viewing? It’s a beautiful optimization allowing the screen to be rendered as a real web page, yet quickly manipulated for easy reading.

Perhaps some people read the blog or saw the video and were fooled. Are they incapable of looking all the way through an interface? Do they only have enough attention span to look at the first couple levels, and then go numb and never wonder if the rest of the interface lives up to the promise? As I said in the opening, I think people are savvier now. They recognize ease of use and consistency when they see it. If not, many people will be getting a cheap iPhone knock-off saying it’s “just as good.”

If you don’t want a smartphone, that’s great. However, if you’re considering a smartphone then you owe it to yourself to look deeper. Go to an Apple store and see the iPhone in action, then see those same tasks on the competitor of your choice. It will likely be no contest. It isn’t 20 years ago, “just as good” is no longer good enough.

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3 thoughts on “Just as good as the iPhone? Ha! This isn’t 1987.

  1. “It’s amazing some people think the iPhone is only about the main menu, and nothing further!”

    These are the same people that buy products base solely on initial appearance, i.e. like the sports car that “looks fast”.

    As always, the devil is in the details & how well the package is put together.

  2. What’s interesting is that on Scobleizer he mentions asking Adobe reps about how the iPhone Flash player is coming, and is always told they’re not allowed to comment on it.

    Does this mean Flash will come to the iPhone after all?

    As for printing, I agree. Maybe Blue Tooth could be used for this? Or Bonjour (it’s in desktop Safari)?

  3. I think John Gruber pointed out that it’s the first electronic product that shows how you interact with it (and the interface) – I remember the Intellivision making similar claims – it wasn’t that the graphics were better and the games richer – it was the controller and the interface that made the Intellivison better. I think Apple has the an advantage this go around that the Intellivision did not. Apple already has the most successful product in consumer electronics history AND the most successful product in the category the Moto RAZR – NO ONE I know that has one likes it – NADDA. They got it because their friends have one and it looks cool. The iPhone looks cool AND you like everything about it.

    My only two complaints are the lack of flash support and it may not be able to print.

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