My Five Minutes with the iPhone

After taking my seven year old daughter to Ratatouille this weekend (excellent) I had to stop by the Apple store and get my hands on an iPhone. I waited with the throng to actually hold and manipulate one. I eventually got to hold and use one for about five minutes. Although that is hardly enough time to evaluate the device, I did have some preliminary reactions:

  • It's a beautiful piece of hardware and much more elegant and captivating than any other cellphone on the market
  • The screen resolution is amazing
  • Internet browsing is not entirely intuitive (how do you bring up the keyboard to enter a URL?). But once I got it it was a much better experience than any other phone I've used to date. It was on a wifi network and so much faster than on AT&T's EDGE network
  • The phone is packed with features and is generally more fun and intuitive to use, accordingly, than conventional mobile phones
  • I didn't test out the iPod aspect of the phone
  • The keyboard does take some practice. Mossberg characterized it as a "non issue." However, I would say that it does have a learning curve
  • The interest level among people in the store was very high

This is a game changing device, if only because other handset makers are reacting and already reworking their designs create greater usability. The way to solve the iPhone's keyboard challenge is to embed voice in the next generation device. It currently doesn't offer speech processing or voice commands.

One irony here is that if every mobile device allowed for true Internet browsing, like the iPhone, many of the complications of mobile advertising would go away because it would simply be an extension of online advertising. Ads on the Internet would render in mobile. That wouldn't stop the development of a mobile advertising industry or infrastructure of course. But it would solve many of the challenges of mobile marketing today.

At the Apple store I visited (on Sunday) they told me they had sold out of the iPhone. Piper Jaffray estimated (perhaps through some napkin math) that the company had sold 500,000 units (or more). I asked the Apple store staff how many they had in stock originally and nobody could tell me. They could only nod at the concept that they had sold "thousands" at that particular store.

Clearly the phone is already a hit. Sure there are complaints and glitches. But with the exception of the Crackberry, the Razr and, for some, the Treo, all other cellphones now look like gray, utilitarian contraptions without much style or even utility.