Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast podcast here, hosted over at http://podfeet.com. this week I’m not going to do a review, but rather give you some comments about last week’s show and a rebuttal to Chris Marshall’s analysis of the iPhone.
Chris – the problem with arguing with you is that you think things through very carefully and you make really good points that are hard to dispute. 2 weeks ago you gave your analysis of the 3G iPhone and everything you said made sense. I was particularly intrigued by the example from your Total Quality Management days (i remember those days too!) where your instructor compared a plastic bag to a nicely designed leather bag and asked which was the higher quality bag – and only after told you the requirement was to carry dirty groceries. (I did kind of wonder how your groceries got dirty though – maybe messy was what you meant?) Anyway, your point in bringing up this example was that it’s important to take into account your own personal requirements before jumping to something like the iPhone. I agree with you 100%.
BUT. There are some devices that change your requirements – after you get them you realize what you’re missing that you didn’t KNOW were your requirements. let me illustrate by two examples. Back in the late 90′s I was still using a Franklin Planner to carry my calendar and my address book. It worked really well, I knew where I had to be and when, I would carry this large bulky object in my briefcase, and i LOVED the feeling of the paper and writing in it was pleasing and satisfying. i kept all my old books so I could go back in time and thumb through them to find “when did I last get a promotion?” or “what year did we go to Hawaii?” My Franklin planner was robust and repeatable, never let me down. It COMPLETELY met my requirements.
Then my friend Eric said, “hey, you need to get one of these Palm devices, they’re really cool.” when I asked him what it could do, he said you put your calendar and contacts in it. So for $400 I can replace my planner that makes me so happy with a device that does the same thing for more money. I didn’t buy it. Eric kept bugging me saying that he couldn’t really logically explain why it would change my life, but that he wouldn’t give his up if you held a gun to his head. I finally buckled down and bought the Palm V, and it was a mind blowing change. I didn’t think I needed a better way to search for when i went to Hawaii, but suddenly I had that at my fingertips instantly instead of going to my office and pulling out my old dusty volumes from the past. I didn’t think it was hard to look up a name in my paper address book that had erasures and old contacts I didn’t need any more and every few years I had to rewrite from scratch. I didn’t realize I didn’t have a backup in case that book ever got lost – and now I had it synced on my computer. And speaking of the computer – it never occurred to me that it would be really handy to see my calendar and contacts on the computer and to be able to enter that information typing quickly instead of painstakingly by pencil in my planner. My paper planner met all of my requirements, but my requirements changed after I realized what the Palm could do.
Second example is Tivo. I had a VCR in every room, and i was quite polished at setting up recordings and finding them on tape to play back later. I rarely missed a show I wanted to see, I was able to fast forward through commercials, and so it perfectly met my requirements. Then my friend Nancy told me I needed Tivo. “why?” I asked. she said i could record all my shows and play them back later. She said I wouldn’t need to know what time they were on or what channel to record. I told her that’s silly, I KNOW what time my shows are on and I KNOW what channel they’re on so how could that be of benefit to me? Plus it was a lot of money and a monthly subscription. sounded dumb to me. She kept pestering me telling me it would change my life.
Well, you can see where this is going, right? I got the Tivo, and it changed my life. I no longer know when my shows are on or what channel. Those precious brain cells that would have had to know that Lost is on ABC on Thursdays at 9 can now be devoted to trying to figure out what the heck is going ON in that show! (I think they named it Lost because that’s how I feel whenever I watch it!) I didn’t realize you could acquire a device that made you actually watch LESS TV, because we jump right to what we want instead of watching drivel till the show we want is on. never realized you could speed through commercials so much faster, and that reliability in getting the right show recorded would go up so much either because Tivo knows if the time changed or this week it’s a 2 hour episode. My requirements changed for watching and recording TV because Tivo changed my requirements.
Now let’s get back to the iPhone. I have a very nice Blackberry 8800. I thought it did everything I needed in a smart phone. it’s a great email device and it’s a reasonably good phone, it carries my contacts and my calendar and has a web browser and Google maps that I’ll use if I’m desperate. why would I need an iPhone? It does all the same things, right? So what if it’s shinier and prettier, it’s harder to type on it so it’s not as good, right?
So that’s why I DIDN’T rush out and buy an iPhone in the first week, I was very constrained and waited an entire 7 days till I got mine. And guess what, my requirements changed! I surf the web constantly on my iPhone because the experience is SO much more satisfying than on the Blackberry – pages are formatted better, I can zoom in easily and turn it sideways to make the text easier to read, and now that it’s so prevalent most sites auto-sense the Safari mobile browser so things are instantly easy to read. I CAN use the internet on the Blackberry, I WILL use the internet on the iPhone. Google maps are another example – both the BB and iPhone are on Edge so the performance is identical, and yet the experience is 100X better on the iPhone because I can drag on the map with my finger to move and pinch or double tap to change the zoom. on the BB I have to hit the letter “o” to zoom out and wait for it to repaint the entire screen, then I think it’s k and l to move side to side (or is it the j and k? I can never remember) and two other keys to go up and down. I didn’t NEED Google Maps when I had the BB, but now I can’t live without it on the iPhone.
Here’s a scenario that never would have taken place on the BB. We’ve landed in Phoenix and we’re driving to Sedona for our 25th wedding anniversary getaway. We jump in the rental car and realize it has an audio interface on the stereo. That means we could listen to the Mac Reviewcast on the 2 hour drive from my iPhone. but wait, i didn’t bring a cable. We start to drive out of the airport, and i whip out my iPhone, and go to google maps. I pushed the little button that shows me where I am approximately using cell towers, and it gets pretty close. then I run a search in Google Maps for Radio Shack. down out of the sky drop these lovely little red pins showing me all the locations of the closest Radio Shacks. i selected one that was on our way, clicked on its’ pin, and the address and phone number pops up. I click on the phone number and my iPhone dials the number. My little friend Tim answers the phone and hunts down the correct cable for me so that it will be waiting at the desk when we arrive. Did I know I needed all this integrated functionality before I got the iPhone? Heck no, wasn’t in my requirements list at all!
I’ve not even touched on how email is so much more readable on the iPhone screen, how I can easily sync in movies to watch on the big screen, and how fantastic the Alarm clock is! There’s probably not one thing the iPhone can do that the Blackberry can’t but because they do it so much better and it’s integrated all together, it has changed my requirement. Thanks Chris for stimulating my mind to try and explain why I’m such a fan of the iPhone.