Yes, it’s the coolest phone yet designed, but smart techies are going to wait on this one. It’s a little expensive at $599 and $60 a month for service other companies charge $40 a month for, but that’s not why you shouldn’t buy one. The two-year lock-in to a poor network is an even bigger reason to stay away, but that’s still not why you shouldn’t buy one. The real reason is that the iPhone won’t be ready.
Do you remember the first iPod? the first Newton? the first Mac? These were also very cool Apple devices that leapt beyond what anyone else had done, and consequently didn’t work quite right. It took a few iterations not only to work out the bugs, but more importantly to work out the design flaws that inevitably arose when inventing radically new product categories and user interfaces. The iPhone is no exception.
The phone that Apple releases tomorrow will be cool. It will be the best combined phone/PDA/music player that has yet hit the streets. It will certainly be the best keyboardless PDA ever designed. It will actually legitimize the whole category, much as the iPod legitimized MP3 players, the Palm Pilot legitimized PDAs, and the Mac legitimized GUIs. However, just like those products, version 1 won’t actually work all that well.
I don’t know what the problem will be, but I guarantee you there’ll be at least one. At worst, the iPhone will be like the original 128K Mac: a cool toy with lots of promise but too little power to get any real work done. At best it will be like the first iPod: a product so good that won’t even notice the problems until we see the version 2 that fixes them. But either way, I’m sure you’re much better off waiting for version 2 than buying one now.
There will be an iPhone 2 in six months, and an iPhone 3 six months after that, and an iPhone 4 six months after that. By the time the contract is up, maybe there’ll be an iPhone that really delivers the smooth experience Apple is known for. However, version 1 Apple products are just never that smooth. (Mac OS X 10.0 anyone?) It takes some real experience in the market, before you can smooth out all the rough edges in a product. The iPhone doesn’t have that yet. The iPod and the Mac do, but that’s because they’ve been through many, many iterations. When the iPhone has had a little time to mature, it will likely be a great product too, but until then it’s going to be an annoying, overpriced chic toy.