Saturday, January 20, 2007

iPhone Beyond the Backlash: Tog, Ihnatko, et al.

I was pretty good about not obsessing about iPhone this week. But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Jeremy Toeman
encapsulates the backlash with a post entitled, "iPhone Appeal Drops Daily."

Jeremy is right, but short-sighted. We're going to see oscillations in the way people look at iPhone. The first blast from the Reality Distortion Field was bound to dissipate and invoke a backlash. I felt it too. But does a sine wave go up or go down? Does the tide come in or go out?

But coming up to Week Three of the iPhone Planet, I'm inclined to trust the first impressions more than the carping. And I'm prepared to call witnesses.

Bruce Tognazzini, who is smart, deep, and relentless about user experience, gives the iPhone user interface an expert walk-through. What you need to know is that Tog is neither a push-over or a fanboy. The verdict?
What’s important is that, for the first time, so many great ideas and processes have been assembled in one device, iterated until they squeak, and made accessible to normal human beings. That’s the genius of Steve Jobs; that’s the genius of Apple.
Embedded in the review are reader comments and questions, with Tog's responses.

Andy Ihnatko spent time using the phone. He's hooked. Chris Pirillo, says his brother, who is not a geek or gadget freak wants one. And Om Malik gets to the heart of things: The iPhone represents a watershed in user-interface paradigms. Expect a range of successful products -- and they won't all be phones -- to follow using.

Mickeleh's Take: I trust the thinking and craft that lead to the iPhone U-I. There's more reality than distortion to the initial wave of jaw dropping. Everything that people are carping about might not matter and can be changed if it does. The moaning about iPhone being a closed-system reminds me of Seinfeld's joke about the difference between the way men and women treat the remote while watching TV: Women care about what's on TV. Men care about about what else is on TV. There will be enough folks thrilled with what the iPhone can do to keep Apple shareholders happy. As for those who focus more on about what else it might do... they'll have their shot. It won't stay closed forever.

Now can we please stop talking about the iPhone until it ships?

More on Tog's view of iPhone at Techmeme

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hardie said...

We don't know anything. We saw someone give a demo.

Remember the Newton? It had equal levels of hype, inspired equal fires of lust. I gave a number of those demos myself. People who weren't tech-heads and didn't like computers wanted them, badly.

And then they showed up. And the niggling little problems piled up and took the product down.

Just like in the movie business "No one knows anything."

Michael Markman said...

I agree, we won't know until it's released.

But we not only saw a demo, we also have two proxies: Pogue and Ihnatko played with it. That's worth something.

As for Newton, the "niggling little problem" was hardly niggling or little: the only user input was the stylus—and the handwriting recognition was well, a joke machine. Remember these?

Q: How many Newtons does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Foux! There to eat lemons, axe gravy soup.

Q: How many Newtons does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Farm.

Q: How many Apple Newton users does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Only one, tharks to the extnq-producilve handwritling processcr.

This is, for me, the biggest open question about iPhone: will the intelligent virtual keyboard be any good for text input? (Most of the other issues that are raised are policy issues, not technology issues. Policy can be changed. The lack of a real keyboard could prove fatal.)

But I still want one.

Anonymous said...

you may have your chance to try the virtual keyboard sooner than you think -- next month.

seen the LG Prada?

Michael Markman said...

LG Prada has a virtual keyboard, but is it Teh virtual keyboard touted by Jobs.

What's trick about the iPhone keyboard is that it's more than just a picture of a keyboard. There's some intelligence behind it. According to Apple's website copy, "The keyboard is predictive, so it prevents and corrects mistakes, making it easier and more efficient to use than the small plastic keyboards on many smartphones."

Does the LG offer the equivalent? That's what I'm waiting to try for myself.

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