Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's Saturn all over again... cell phone woes

In 1991 Saturn vehicles hit the scene. We bought a 92 model sedan in late 1991. Shortly after we bought it the headlines, front page, pointed out the new car brand doing something like it's 3rd recall since hitting the market. Don't bother to read further back in the paper! There were recalls from at least 4 other car makers, some with far worse defects than the wire Saturn was voluntarily replacing.

2007, enter another new product — the iPhone. My husband and I bought the second "model year" again, in 2008. We're back to that blasted popularity contest I lamented in a letter to the editor, lo those many years ago, about the Saturn recall. Pick on the new kid, the unknown, the different. In the interest of disclosure, we're on our 6th Saturn. We've not had a lemon, they've all been great cars. The dealership near us is superb.

Back to the iPhone. I had an interesting lunch at my office yesterday. I just listened to the conversation among my co-workers. Some of them know I have an iPhone, some don't. One of them put their phone on the table as we all sat down to eat. It went something like this:

co-worker 1, "Oh, is that your new phone?"
co-worker 2, "yeah" (sounding slightly disgruntled). "It's the 3rd one, they've replaced it 2x now and it still isn't quite right"

She described the various failures of her phone, sticking keys, other non-working features. The conversation continued with input like: "Yep, my husband has gone through 8 phones in 3 months. They are just junk. And these were $300 phones, mind you!!" And: "yeah, I know what you mean. Love those commercials but I definitely have dropped service on [carrier shall remain nameless but it wasn't AT&T]" (-;

Pick on the iPhone all you want. Apple's reputation for "just working" and causing a ruckus with not sticking with the status quo may cause them some media and marketing heartache from time to time but, with the number of phones they are going to need to churn out to meet demand they are bound to end up with a few hardware lemons.

And we've all experienced software that doesn't exactly play nice in certain mixes. Apple is being careful about what gets into the App Store for good reason but it's a double edged sword. Some devs complain about how long it takes to get an app in or people complaining they can't do any damned thing they want on the phone.

For many of us, the mostly non-vocal majority shall we say, the iPhone is a vast improvement over the other phones we've been using. It's not perfect. What the heck can you show me in hardware or software that is perfect? No matter who makes it? I'll stick with the iPhone and the myriad improvements it offers over the way I used to use a cell phone. Thanks Apple!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Count me among those who are quite happy with iPhone 3G, thank you.

Well, it's been over a month now that I've had the iPhone in my hands to work with. I managed to get this right before I needed to run a 5 day conference for 21 people. What a great tool this is. I'm getting better with the keyboard. That is definitely one thing that takes some work to get used to.

I haven't had the crashes, bricking, or other issues that some have complained about. I've also not really loaded it up with a ton of stuff either. I'm quite happy with the use of my older video iPod for music use (and still use it for videos for my 6 year old).

Of course, I wasn't looking for the iPhone to replace iPods, laptops or anything other than my aging Motorola flip phone that was getting quite long in the tooth. The bonus was, I set up email to forward to a gmail account and that served me quite well for the week of the conference. In addition, I absolutely believe they've got it right with the visual voicemail. THANK YOU!

I've never been so up to date with my contacts, ever. Adding a phone number to an existing contact is a snap. Making a new contact after listening to their voicemail is also a snap. I used to have 10 numbers in my phone that I *meant* to add a name to, but it was such a hassle to add that information I never did manage to get around to that. The phone only held the latest 10 incoming, unidentified numbers so I inevitably lost some I meant to identify too. Not anymore! (-:

Sadly, Apple may be a victim of it's own growing appeal among non-macheads (I'm an admitted and longtime machead -- not a fanboy! I do not believe Steve walks on water and that he and/or Apple can do no wrong). I know this hunk of hardware has some issues — as does some of the software. I tend to keep my 3G off even though we have fairly strong coverage. It's my phone. I need some battery life out of it if I'm going to make and receive calls.

So far my husband and I have indeed found Google maps to be quite useful, in the field, as it were. I've never been a turn-by-turn user and don't really bemoan that lack. If there's stuff you need that the iPhone doesn't do, obviously it's not for you. Forget the marketing hype, the fanboyism and all that muck. Ultimately you need to pick what's going to work for you and fit into your budget. Just so happens that, already being in the Mac camp for computing, the current iPhone suits me just fine.