Thank God the iPhone Sucks!

Ever since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at the Macworld conference a few days ago I’ve been trying to avoid any sort of news about it. While I’m working I keep the NPR webstream on pretty much constantly to provide background noise. I keep having to turn it off/down or switch to a different station to avoid hearing folks talk about the iPhone. Why? you ask. Because I thought that the more I heard about it, the more I would want it. And, believe me, I already really, really wanted it.

I have a love/hate relationship with iPods in general. Before the iPod, I didn’t think MP3 players were worth my time even though I listened to music everywhere I went. I was majorly put off by the memory limitations. It didn’t seem worth the hundreds of dollars they wanted for the things if they only held 512MB of songs. To add more memory would cost $150 or more. I bought a MiniDisc player, instead.

And then came the iPod. I think the very first ones had 1GB, but I could be wrong. I remember it was a lot more memory than others were offering. And it looked so cool. I’m a PC person, but at the time I seriously considered buying a Mac just so I could get an iPod, too. The only thing that kept me from it was money. I didn’t actually have enough to do that and still eat. I pined for the iPod for a long time.

When I finally had the money to buy one I decided not to. I have a lot of problems with iPod and Apple, mainly concerning their Digital Rights management (DRM) policies. I think they are too strict and/or stupid. I know plenty of people who can ‘unlock’ music bought from iTunes and hack the iPod to keep it from restricting the use of music, but I don’t think I should have to hack anything to have that freedom. I bought the music, whatever form it comes in, and I should be able to do whatever the hell I want with it. Especially at $1 per song.

I bought an MP3 player with more memory than iPods offered at the time (80GB!) with more integrated features for less than most iPod models. The only area in which my MP3 player falls short is in the looks department. Very few things are as pretty as an iPod.

Now Apple has an iPhone, the device many of us have been waiting for. A phone/PDA/Camera/MP3 player with iPod sensibilities. And it’s pretty, too. For several years I’ve been waiting for an all-in-one device so I could ditch the 10 things I have to carry around with me to keep connected. But, again, the stuff on the market didn’t really appeal to me because of the memory. 1 GB? Pfft. Not enough! The iPhone comes with 4 or 8 like a proper player should.

The desire was creeping up on me. Soon I would spend my days heartsick because I couldn’t have an iPhone. In the summer I would start seeing them and get jealous of those who could blithely drop $600 on such a device. Sadness threatened me.

Then I read the iPhone posts on the Consumerist and started to feel better. My analytical brain pushed my wanting things brain into the background. The first blow? iPhone is only for Cingular, one of the worst cell phone companies ever. And it’s only available with a contract (maybe) and not for month-by-month customers. Tied to Cingular for 2 years? I think not. Especially with their new contract terms. Someone somewhere will figure out how to unlock the phone so you can use it with whatever provider, but, again, I don’t have time for crap like that.

Once I got over wanting the thing, I started reading more about it and discovered that the phone itself is not so great. Paul Kedrosky lists 5 things wrong with it, including:

1. The touchpad. How do you operate a touchphone in your pocket, or under a table by feel at a meeting? You scoff, but you’d be amazed how often that is how business emailing happens.

2. The closed system. Is Apple serious that it won’t let third-party developers build software for the thing? If so, and put simply, the device will fail.

Scobleizer continues with 5 more things:

8. The camera sucks. It’s a 2megapixel device without flash, without zoom. Nokia’s newest cameras blow this one away.

9. No GPS. For a $600 device that really, really, really sucks.

I think I may be over my Wanting phase now. My thinking self took over. Thank God the iPhone sucks – I can stop coveting.

I wonder how many other people saw that new iPhone and automatically wanted it for whatever reason? I wonder how many will buy it despite its drawbacks. Not everyone may feel there are drawbacks. I wonder how many people don’t care if the device isn’t all they need or all it could be or not even the best piece of hardware on the market. I wonder how many folks will still have to have it because it’s new, or it’s pretty, or it’s a trend. Judging from the high number of white earphones I see on the subway every day, I’m guessing the answer will number in the millions.

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Filed under Consumer Culture, Wants and Desires

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