How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry
January 10, 2008 11:00 AM   Subscribe

"(Steve) Jobs, a notorious control freak himself, wasn't about to let a group of suits — whom he would later call "orifices" — tell him how to design his phone."
posted by Brandon Blatcher (203 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
'cos Apple is teh wicked cool rebels!
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Surely you meant "kewl".

Surely.
posted by aramaic at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2008


Indeed.

/SELF EPIC FAIL
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2008


maybe the orifices are right about some things some time. or is there another reason everyone keeps calling me an asshole?
posted by localhuman at 11:08 AM on January 10, 2008


"Engineers looked carefully at Linux, which had already been rewritten for use on mobile phones, but Jobs refused to use someone else's software."

Unless it's BSD and Mach?
posted by stavrogin at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2008 [15 favorites]


Someone should, I don't know, design a bingo card or something.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting and I always like hearing behind the scene stories of how something was created. Sure, it won't cure your STD, but it'll make you forget that burning sensation for a few minutes.

I dp wish some of the engineers had been named though. While Jobs is talented, there's plenty of other people who made the iPhone a success.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, BB, Jobs's tireless whipping of the serfs is what made it possible. Who else has the energy to perform such intense whipping so tirelessly?
posted by Mister_A at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


The article makes some excellent points. Wireless hardware in the US has been crippled bullshit for years. If Apple has shown the carriers a way to make a profit by opening up their networks (to new hardware and new types of traffic), I'll be happy. It'll be good to have the hardware driven by technology rather than by the carriers' need to sell a proprietary locked-in network service.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Good for you, Steve! People who are hard of hearing need someone to stand up to them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


People who put their fingers in their ears and go "LA-LA-LA" (by simply calling anything about Apple fanboy fantasy) really aren't paying attention. Say what you will about Jobs; he thinks so far outside of the box that he isn't even on the same container ship. He embodies the very definition of a visionary — one who sees enough moves ahead that he changes the very nature of the game. And he hasn't just done it once, it is a pattern of the way he (and Apple and Pixar) have operated since the Apple I. This story is a perfect example, and I love reading this kind of stuff.
posted by spock at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


It was only a matter of time before companies opened up their networks. With the rest of the world already using networks as a "pipe" American companies would not have been able to maintain their stranglehold forever.
posted by pantsrobot at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2008


A friend of mine was in contact some of the engineers who were involved with the iPhone project (he'd done work on the iPod Video). His comments on the product development jive with the start of the article - it was a total bitch to create.
posted by lowlife at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2008


And, also, why did his epic goddamn vision not include 3G?
posted by pantsrobot at 11:36 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good for you, Steve! People who are hard of hearing need someone to stand up to them.

Your (off-topic, ranty) post would be far more compelling if the comments weren't from hearing aid users noting that they're able to use the iPhone.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really hope the iPhone is just the first step of many that leads to telco and cable companies being managed more like commodity assets and less like content-delivery and service companies.

This article makes it sound like the iPhone triggered a few subsequent steps needed for this to happen (Verizon and AT&T opening up to any compatible handsets, T-Mobile and Sprint partnering with Google on the Android OS). This shift will be long and volatile, I'm sure, but I'm hopeful.
posted by mullacc at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2008


The iPhone is the embodiment of my love, and hate, for Apple. It's an awesome product. And they are absolute control freaks who won't let me use it my way.

Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
posted by DU at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


That being said, I would NOT bet against Google's Android which hackers already have running on real world devices
posted by spock at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2008


If there was a mistake in Apple's strategy it was giving Cingular/AT&T the 5 year iPhone exclusive. That is like 35 years in Technology Time. By 2012 the iPhone could very well again be the Beta™ in a world of VHS (Google Android).
posted by spock at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2008


Wireless hardware in the US has been crippled bullshit for years. If Apple has shown the carriers a way to make a profit by opening up their networks (to new hardware and new types of traffic), I'll be happy.

Explain how the cripple bullshit phenomenon has changed in the year the iPhone's been out. Android is still months from being in released products, and only two of the four American carriers have really signed on so far. Sprint says they've opened up their network and are willing to unlock their phones for use on other carriers, but no one else has taken the same step, and if they have it's certainly not because of the iPhone, which is just as locked down as everything else.

In general, Apple is very much about closed ecosystems, and their attitude towards software development on the iPhone is no exception. If cellular companies start opening up their networks to new technologies and stop locking phones to their networks, it'll be in spite of the roadblocks Apple and AT&T have thrown in the way. And yes, third-party hacks on the iPhone prove the basic hardware platform is viable, but lauding Apple for producing a product you have to actively circumvent in order to do the cool stuff would be like lauding Microsoft for the privilege of routing around Vista's oppressive DRM mechanisms.
posted by chrominance at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Steve Jobs uses what is termed "breakthroughs," in productivity. IBM employs it, but not witht he fanatical zeal that Jobs apparently does. I like the term "stochastic business," as I think it characterizes it a bit better. You basically say, that we are doing it this way and on time and we don't know how we're going to do it but we won't make exceptions. When it works, you get amazing results, but the methodology does not guarantee success. It just gurantees that when you do have success you get amazing results.

In any case, when you drive engineers into the ground like this, the product better be amazing or you lose engineers and credibility. A massive failure and watch as your top engineers go to similarly high paying and less back breaking firms. Of course Steve Jobs does a great job of making everyone involved in product development believe they are working on the Manhattan Project. Obscure codenames? Signing in under different company names? Divisions separated geographically? If I was working 14 hours a day slinging code for a cell phone, I guess going around pretending to be a Cold War spy would help justify it to myself.
posted by geoff. at 11:46 AM on January 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


Apple, open?

Ha ha ha ha ha.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:48 AM on January 10, 2008


spock writes "That being said, I would NOT bet against Google's Android which hackers already have running on real world devices"

Android is actually a pretty shocking departure from Google's MO. With previous products, they rolled out a pretty solid beta with no prior marketing. Just announced, "Hey, here's a new product. It's mostly done, but we're still tinkering. Enjoy." With Android, they basically released a spec. Same for OpenSocial. No working product in sight. I suspect this is the result of them being a publicly traded company now, with shareholders demanding a knee-jerk reaction.
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Explain how the cripple bullshit phenomenon has changed in the year the iPhone's been out. Android is still months from being in released products, and only two of the four American carriers have really signed on so far. Sprint says they've opened up their network and are willing to unlock their phones for use on other carriers, but no one else has taken the same step, and if they have it's certainly not because of the iPhone, which is just as locked down as everything else.

I have to agree. Sprint mid-level workers were talking about commodity pricing and the service itself being nothing more than a utility 5 years ago. It is very expensive to establish and operate a highly reliable wireless network. The margins are already so thin that it is no question that carriers want to do everything possible for people not to simply see it a commodity. We'll gradually see it happen as WiMax and other high-speed wireless networks begin to unravel and become so powerful that you'll see integration into laptops. Only then will it be treated as another way of accessing the Internet. I bet they won't even sell voice services directly, but simply a means of access.

I just want the day when my cell phone will use my wireless router for voice calls when I'm at home or at a friend's house or at work and only pick up a carrier in the wild.
posted by geoff. at 11:53 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there was a mistake in Apple's strategy it was giving Cingular/AT&T the 5 year iPhone exclusive.

Many have wondered if that 5-year exclusive might only cover iPhone v.1. It would not be beyond Jobs to spring a v.2 (3g?) phone on the world. Quite possibly without an exclusive carrier.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2008


This is awesome:

Through it all, Jobs maintained the highest level of secrecy. Internally, the project was known as P2, short for Purple 2 (the abandoned iPod phone was called Purple 1). Teams were split up and scattered across Apple's Cupertino, California, campus. Whenever Apple executives traveled to Cingular, they registered as employees of Infineon, the company Apple was using to make the phone's transmitter. Even the iPhone's hardware and software teams were kept apart: Hardware engineers worked on circuitry that was loaded with fake software, while software engineers worked off circuit boards sitting in wooden boxes.
posted by poppo at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who put their fingers in their ears and go "LA-LA-LA" (by simply calling anything about Apple fanboy fantasy) really aren't paying attention.

It goes both ways. There are a lot of people with blind faith in Apple who act as if the iPhone contains a piece of the true cross.
posted by smackfu at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


chrominance writes "Explain how the cripple bullshit phenomenon has changed in the year the iPhone's been out. "

I didn't say it has, and neither did the article. It's just an interesting possibility.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2008


I think Jobs' power is not just vision but charisma/drive to get the deals in that push things forward. Verizon rejected a deal outright? EPIC FAIL! AT&T is going to clean up with this. Both the iTunes Music Store and the iPhone's success rest on the epic deals that Apple got. It's business as much as technology and design that is driving this stuff forward.

I own an iPhone, it is most certainly the most amazing device I have ever used.
posted by Lectrick at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2008


In February, Jobs will release a developer's kit so that anyone can write programs for the device.

Y'all must have missed that part.

From a stability standpoint there are a lot of good reasons to "lock down" your product. It is next-to-impossible to have a good product that is made from just anybody's components. (Like Apple writing for their own motherboards and a limited family of graphics cards, rather than the motherboards and graphics cards for every Tom, Dick & Hari San company out there.) Same thing for a product as new and complex as the iPhone. After reading this article I see why Apple wanted to lock down the apps, at least to begin with. If I bought an iPhone and installed Joe Schmoe's application and my phone stopped working correctly, who stands to lose the most? Apple.
posted by spock at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


C'mon. Look at it. It's gorgeous.

Brilliant reportage!
posted by rxrfrx at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


spock: I just want the day when my cell phone will use my wireless router for voice calls when I'm at home or at a friend's house or at work and only pick up a carrier in the wild.

The iPhone already has all the hardware necessary to make that happen. Let's see what happens when the SDK comes out in a month. ;)
posted by Lectrick at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2008


geoff. writes "I just want the day when my cell phone will use my wireless router for voice calls when I'm at home or at a friend's house or at work and only pick up a carrier in the wild."

Those days began last June.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2008


Android is actually a pretty shocking departure from Google's MO... I suspect this is the result of them being a publicly traded company now, with shareholders demanding a knee-jerk reaction.

Or the opposite. Shareholders aren't that fond of surprises, and like to know what the company is working on. Rather than April 1st, surprise, Google has a webmail product.

In a weird parallel, Apple is the same way: who knows what they'll have for sale in 7 days? But they also pre-announced the iPhone dev kit way in advance of actually having it available.
posted by smackfu at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2008


pantsrobot: And, also, why did his epic goddamn vision not include 3G?

Surely it had something to do with the amount of juice that current 3G transmitters suck down. When that improves, we'll see a 3G iPhone. Also, the network is already fast enough to be very usable, from my experience.
posted by Lectrick at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2008


spock writes "If I bought an iPhone and installed Joe Schmoe's application and my phone stopped working correctly starts dialing very expensive 900 numbers, who stands to lose the most? Apple."

Fixed that for ya. Malware for the iPhone is even more dangerous since it's effectively a direct line to your bank account.
posted by mullingitover at 12:03 PM on January 10, 2008


smackfu writes "In a weird parallel, Apple is the same way: who knows what they'll have for sale in 7 days? But they also pre-announced the iPhone dev kit way in advance of actually having it available."

They really didn't have a choice. Outside the Apple jail cell there's (in software terms) freaking Disneyland and Burning Man rolled into one, and Apple knew they couldn't keep everyone from breaking out of jail on the honor system. They had to offer the hope of native apps that could compete with the anarchists.
posted by mullingitover at 12:09 PM on January 10, 2008


Spock, thank you for those links. The android looks very promising.

::crosses fingers, hopes for a reasonably priced "Gphone" someday::
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:11 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


but lauding Apple for producing a product you have to actively circumvent in order to do the cool stuff

??? I don't understand what you mean. It makes phone calls, does email, takes pictures, and acts as an iPod. That's what I bought it for. Does it not do those things?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:11 PM on January 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Say what you will about Jobs; he thinks so far outside of the box that he isn't even on the same container ship.

This is undeniable. I've said before that all he has to do is decide to slip a GPS receiver into the iPod Touch and iPhone and he will destroy companies like Garmin and the countless faceless GPS players. And that would be one more dedicated device integrated into the iPod.

Speaking of which, now that Apple has announced new Mac Pros at CES, what's left for Macworld? Any rumours circulating? Perhaps he's going to turn the Genius Bars into real bars?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:22 PM on January 10, 2008


Brandon Blatcher writes "??? I don't understand what you mean. It makes phone calls, does email, takes pictures, and acts as an iPod. That's what I bought it for. Does it not do those things?"

I think by 'Cool stuff' we're talking about full-featured IM apps, video recording, games, voice notes, terminal, VNC, a slew of scientific calculators, etch-a-sketch, ebooks, dictionaries in multiple languages, SMS that actually works like SMS is meant to...oh, and this new thing called 'MMS.'

All the other stuff I could already do with my old phone.
posted by mullingitover at 12:22 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lectrick: I understand, but the article makes a big thing of how the evil networks were keeping Jobs from realizing his uncompromised vision. The thing is, when the product was finally released, it was already out of date solely because of the 3G thing. Now I have no doubts that Apple can create a 3G experience as good as or better than its competitors, but until it does I can browse the internet much, much faster (I guess it comes down to user preference; I feel sub-3G speeds are unusable) on many many other cheaper phones that already do most of what the iPhone does.
posted by pantsrobot at 12:22 PM on January 10, 2008


Any rumours circulating?

Sub-notebook, is what they're saying. And I am listening to them saying this because I wish to purchase one.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:23 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry


The iPhone blew up the wireless industry, but it doesn't want to blow you up.
posted by anazgnos at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2008


Malware for the iPhone is even more dangerous since it's effectively a direct line to your bank account.

Potatoes are burning to the ground!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:28 PM on January 10, 2008


All I want is a real BlueTooth stack. Is that too much to ask?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:29 PM on January 10, 2008


Major kudos for other folks who deserve them that are missing from the article -- undoubtedly because Apple didn't make them available for interviews -- should go to the truly visionary Apple design chief Jonathan Ive and technology head Jon Rubinstein. Both very nice guys too.
posted by digaman at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2008


I think by 'Cool stuff' we're talking about full-featured IM apps, video recording, games, voice notes, terminal, VNC, a slew of scientific calculators, etch-a-sketch, ebooks, dictionaries in multiple languages, SMS that actually works like SMS is meant to...oh, and this new thing called 'MMS.'

Then they aren't paying attention and don't understand the company. Apple is not about trying to stuff every thing it can into its consumer products. They pick and choose based on what they think the consumer needs most and it's worked pretty well for them. Disparaging the company because it's not doing things it clearly has no intentions of doing is like complaining because that expensive imported cheese you bought doesn't use the right size coffee filters.

All the other stuff I could already do with my old phone.</i.

Your old phone had visual voicemail and a iPod? What phone is that?

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


what's left for Macworld?

UltraSlim MacBooks with no moving-parts flash drives.
posted by spock at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2008


Personally, I've been drooling over the iPhone, but I learned long ago never to buy version 1.0 of anything. Even if Apple makes it. That said, I need a new phone, I have Verizon. and all their phones with anything close to the capability are about as much money and not nearly as cool.
posted by lordrunningclam at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2008


They pick and choose based on what they think the consumer needs most and it's worked pretty well for them
So they've decided consumers don't need MMS, video recording, voice notes, and standard SMS? I know someone with a four year old phone who uses all of these things, and therefore, there are other people out there who use them too.
posted by pantsrobot at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2008


Brandon Blatcher writes "Your old phone had visual voicemail and a iPod? What phone is that?"

Cingular 8125 with CallWave (it did one better than visual voicemail: it transcribes the voice mail into a text message, and also let me check my voicemail via OS X widget and over the web). It had a 4MB miniSD card full of tunes, and the rest of the time I used my 80GB iPod. I still end up relying on the iPod since 8GB is just not enough to cover a good cross-section of my music library.
posted by mullingitover at 12:49 PM on January 10, 2008


So they've decided consumers don't need MMS, video recording, voice notes, and standard SMS?

How many iPhones have they sold?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:50 PM on January 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


For those working on the iPhone, the next three months would be the most stressful of their careers. Screaming matches broke out routinely in the hallways. Engineers, frazzled from all-night coding sessions, quit, only to rejoin days later after catching up on their sleep. A product manager slammed the door to her office so hard that the handle bent and locked her in; it took colleagues more than an hour and some well-placed whacks with an aluminum bat to free her.

This is why I dont work in the private sector. They expect results.
posted by mecran01 at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Cingular 8125

Intriguing phone, but the less Windows in my life, the better. The physical keypad seems like it would be easier to use also.

with CallWave

I tried CallWave for a while, but the the transcriptions were spotty to the point where'd I'd have to call the voice mail to fully understand the message. I wouldn't say it was better than Visual Voicemail, but I'd like to see the two combined.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2008


Wow, that article was pretty US centric.
posted by Olli at 1:00 PM on January 10, 2008


Speaking of which, now that Apple has announced new Mac Pros at CES, what's left for Macworld?

They never have Jobs announce pure speedbumps anymore. Too boring. When they do it's a bad sign, like when they announced leather iPod cases at a "special" event.
posted by smackfu at 1:02 PM on January 10, 2008


smackfu writes "They never have Jobs announce pure speedbumps anymore. Too boring. When they do it's a bad sign, like when they announced leather iPod cases at a 'special' event."

Hey, those cases were Italian leather. Do you know how many Italians gave their lives for those cases? Show some respect.

Brandon Blatcher writes "I tried CallWave for a while, but the the transcriptions were spotty to the point where'd I'd have to call the voice mail to fully understand the message. I wouldn't say it was better than Visual Voicemail, but I'd like to see the two combined."

Yeah, they weren't perfect but they often did the trick. The rest of the time they were fairly amusing.
posted by mullingitover at 1:07 PM on January 10, 2008


Single-post Mac-filter FTW!!!
posted by indiebass at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2008


Something I wondered about when reading this article: how do you get a big company to sign an NDA on something you're selling them? Did someone at Apple call someone at Cingular and say, "hey, we have a cool idea but you have to sign an NDA before we tell you what it is?" Or is the idea presented without NDA? Or what?
posted by grouse at 1:17 PM on January 10, 2008


he isn't even on the same container ship.

teh funee!
posted by mwhybark at 1:20 PM on January 10, 2008


grouse-

I think they had the CEO sign an NDA, to hear the idea. He says he wants to hear more, and bring in more people, and tells them "hey this is a really good idea, its worth the NDA to hear it" and the go and do so.

everyone else-

And to why it didn't ship with 3G. Have you seen the size of the iPhone motherboard? Look Here. At the last image of the bottom. That little blue thing in the upper left hand corner is the entire thing. 8gb flash, processor, GPRS/GSM chipset, Sim card. The rest of the case is battery and the touchscreen. Until recently, the smallest 3G chipset by itself was as big as that. And they were designing / building / testing this thing in 2005/2006, which means the hardware spec had to be locked down back then.

Now they can get a 3g chipset integrated with GPRS/GSM/GPS around the same size, so they are designing that into their next revision of the line.

Apple's drive for smaller / sexier means that they tend to back themselves into a corner, where they wont want to release a machine, especially a portable one, that is larger / heavier than the model it is replacing (for example, they could have shipped a faster dvd-r in the original 15" macbook pro, but it had to be slimmer than the powerbook g4 it was replacing, so they shipped with a slower dvd-r, in the next revision the prices and available of slimmer dvd-r drives made it possible to integrate into the existing form factor. Same goes for lack of fw800, etc.).
posted by mrzarquon at 1:39 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Steve Jobs is a powerful guy with personal charisma, strong opinions, good taste in clothes, and a knack for who to steal ideas from. That does not make him creative.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have an iPhone. I got it for free. And I got the service contract for free. Suck it, haters.

It has many bugs and problems. Edge browsing is as slow as frozen shit in February. However. It's the only cell I have ever actually USED. The UI is so simple and easy that I actually use all the features. Every other cell I have had - even those with more capability - had horrible UI.
posted by tkchrist at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2008


Then they aren't paying attention and don't understand the company. Apple is not about trying to stuff every thing it can into its consumer products. They pick and choose based on what they think the consumer needs most and it's worked pretty well for them.

No one is saying that's not the case. They're saying it's lame. Apple produced more locked-down bullshit in a locked-down bullshit market. OMG. Obnoxious corporate behavior works well for lots of companies. Being obnoxious about Windows worked out super-awesome for Microsoft, but Microsoft did isn't one tenth as restrictive as Apple and their iPhone. The only reason it was a bigger deal with MS was that Microsoft had a lock on the desktop market, while Apple doesn't have a lock on anything, except...

The iPhone is the only phone with the really awesome hardware capabilities, and developers can't do anything with it. It's locked down. And the reason it's locked down is because of obnoxious phone companies colluding to screw the customer. That has worked out well for them too.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 PM on January 10, 2008


I just received a keyboard, ordered for someone in my office. New Mac keyboard. It's aluminum, with chicklet keys. Looks very stylish -- same mechanism as the new aluminum wireless keyboards. Thing cost like $60 (all Mac keyboards are unreasonably expensive), and it's got a cheap-shit action with cheap-shit keys glued to an aluminum plate.

In other words, it looks fabulous, and cost about five cents to build. Their margin on this shit has got to be absolutely outrageous.

It was one of those quiet epiphany moments for me, unwrapping this thing. One of those moments when something you already knew dawns on your with such force that you feel like you're learning something new: That Apple is selling the appearance of quality. That's why they replaced the old plastic keyboards with stiff long-throw actions that are thousands of cases of carpal tunnel waiting to happen with new metal keyboards with cheaper, irregular, short-throw actions that are thousands of cases of carpal tunnel waiting to happen. But shit, the things look amazing, especially if you set them in front of a 23" Apple Cinema display on a stainless steel table. You feel really important, looking at a setup like that. You feel like you really matter.

I mean, this is what "emotional design" is really all about, as it's currently practiced by most of the people who toss around that annoying buzzphrase. It's about creating an emotional connection by whatever means are necessary. It's about the idea that not only is the emotional functionality more important than the ostensive functionality, it is the ostensive functionality. To look good is much more important than to be good, to steal a line.

Sometimes I think emotional design is one of the most destructively disruptive ideas of the past 15 years. It panders to our irrational side -- it begs us to just ignore functionality for a hit of good feeling about what we're doing. When we, what we're doing, and the world would all be better off if we paid attention to what we were doing, instead of what the stuff we did it with made us feel like while we did it.
posted by lodurr at 1:55 PM on January 10, 2008 [12 favorites]


How many iPhones have they sold?
How much of the market do they own?

delmoi put it more clearly than I did.
posted by pantsrobot at 2:00 PM on January 10, 2008


That does not make him creative.

Well, it doesn't make him artistic. I get the impression he's pretty creative.
posted by cortex at 2:07 PM on January 10, 2008


I used to work at a computer retailer. At the retail level at least, keyboards were the highest-margin item we sold.
posted by grouse at 2:08 PM on January 10, 2008


It was only a matter of time before companies opened up their networks.

I'm sort of tired of that though: it was only a matter of time before the U.S. carriers allowed text messaging to customers on other carriers -- but that amount of time was about TEN YEARS, in which there wasn't any point in trying to use text messaging because it wouldn't work with at least three-quarters of the people you knew. So the rest of the world had text messaging and we didn't. Time is the most expensive thing there is, the one thing you're not really ever going to get any more of. I'm tired of the car that should be available now always being five years away. These companies have proven they can stave off the inevitable forever if you let them. Thanks, Steve, for bustin' shit up a little.

(But I'm still not buying an iPhone on principle. God forbade Adam to make a gsm phone that was tied to one carrier. Look it up.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:10 PM on January 10, 2008


I think they had the CEO sign an NDA, to hear the idea. He says he wants to hear more, and bring in more people,

Yep... this could backfire on you, if you are foolish and approach someone who's not interested, and they say "Apple wanted us to sign an NDA for something". I wonder if that's how the original iPhone rumors got started.
posted by smackfu at 2:13 PM on January 10, 2008


Single-post Mac-filter FTW!!!
posted by indiebass at 5:16 PM on January 10 [+] [!]


It was an interesting article with a new perspective and shedding new light on something a lot of people are interested in. Padding it with other useless links would weaken the post.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:14 PM on January 10, 2008


Yep... this could backfire on you, if you are foolish and approach someone who's not interested, and they say "Apple wanted us to sign an NDA for something". I wonder if that's how the original iPhone rumors got started.

This is an interesting question. In the context of M&A deals, the company up for sale hires an investment bank that contacts potential buyers and lines up the NDAs. If Goldman Sachs contacts you and says "We want to talk to you about the potential acquisition of a large handset maker"...well, that's sorta interesting, but nothing like "Apple called Verizon and asked them to sign an NDA." I wonder if Apple used the Infineon angle to approach the carriers--the article mentions that Apple execs traveled under the name Infineon, which is the manufacturer of the phone's transmitter. I suppose an "Infineon" executive could've called AT&T, pitched an interesting hardware idea and got AT&T to sign an NDA that covered any "Infineon manufacturing partners". And once the NDA was signed, they could probably reveal the Apple angle, which would get Sigman to show up to a meeting he otherwise would probably have never heard about.
posted by mullacc at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of people with blind faith in Apple who act as if the iPhone contains a piece of the true cross.

And then there are the people who simply look at the global revenues (both from initial sale and continued use) and think 'holy shit, apple is making more money on this phone than anybody ever has before'.

It's not the true cross, but it's idiotic to pretend that the iphone isn't a huge product, as much as I have no desire to own one at all.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2008


How much of the market do they own?
Less than 1% (they want to sell 10million by the end of 2008, which they say is 1% of the market), which I supposed means you "won". However 1.1 million iphones have been sold as of Q4, so clearly someone didn't need all those features.

delmoi put it more clearly than I did.

He blames the carriers as opposed to Apple.

developers can't do anything with it.

Developers can't make calls or send email or use the iPod?! What. the. hell. Apple?!

Oh wait, the SDK will be available in February. Nevermind. In the meantime you can hack it, your hacks might break on updates, or you can wait to see what the SDK does.

Look I'm a geek. I married a geek. I raised a geek. These complaints are geeky. The rest of the world doesn't think as we do and nor do they need everything we, OMG, need. Multi language dictionaries? Yeah, that's cool and could be useful, but it ain't needed. At this point, most people just want to not hate their cellphone and the iPhone, will not perfect, does a good job of getting that ball rolling.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:31 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's why they replaced the old plastic keyboards with stiff long-throw actions that are thousands of cases of carpal tunnel waiting to happen with new metal keyboards with cheaper, irregular, short-throw actions that are thousands of cases of carpal tunnel waiting to happen.

A flatter keyboard means less carpal-tunnel. You know, Apple, they do this thing called "design." And I'm sure razor-thin anodized aluminum keyboards cost more to make than 5 cents.

Besides, if you don't like it, there's nothing stopping you from picking up a $10 sure-to-be-crappy keyboard from someone else.
posted by fungible at 2:46 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thought these were interesting:

"Apple's hardware engineers had spent about a year working on touchscreen technology for a tablet PC." (In February 2005, I think.) Where's the tablet Mac?

Apple makes $80 from selling the phone, and $240 from AT&T over the two-year contract.

There are a lot of people with blind faith in Apple who act as if the iPhone contains a piece of the true cross.

Steve Jobs hates it when you ruin his "one more thing..." Macworld surprise.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:47 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


One of those moments when something you already knew dawns on your with such force that you feel like you're learning something new: That Apple is selling the appearance of quality.

Your troll about the keyboard's quality aside, year after year, people for the most part seem to keep coming back, buying new and different Apple gear. That is usually a mark of quality, because you can only sell on appearance for so long.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Steve Jobs hates it when you ruin his "one more thing..." Macworld surprise.

"It's an iPod, a phone, an internet communicator, and a holy relic."
posted by grouse at 2:58 PM on January 10, 2008


and a knack for who to steal ideas from. That does not make him creative.

Much of creativity consists of knowing what to steal, and then what to do with it.

Only one of Shakespeare's plays had a storyline that wasn't ripped off from someone else.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:04 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jobs; he thinks so far outside of the box that he isn't even on the same container ship.

Apple waited nearly five years after the first mp3 players launched to launch one of its own.

Apple waited nearly three years after the first disk-based video players to launch one of its own.

Apple waited eleven years after the Nokia Communicator and six years after S60 to launch a "smartphone" that doesn't let its users load smart apps, run MMS, wirelink to a real keyboard, plug in cards, or record video. Given its lack of corporate email, it more properly resembles a Helio on steroids than a smartphone, and I personally think the Helio far exceeds Apple's phone for the social usability within the teen/20 demographic. I find it amusing that so many Apple owners are badgering their corporate IT department to rejig their email gateways and secure device policies to enable Apple "support". It's as annoying as when the interns come along demanding you support their Musiqs and Helios and Sidekicks and other fun phones.

Compared to unusually risk-averse hardware companies such as Dell or HP, Apple looks good in the consumer and SOHO space. But that is relative.
posted by meehawl at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Apple has been making shitty keyboards for a long time now, but there was a time that they made the best of 'em.

The same was true with a lot of Apple stuff, and still is with some. I just use a different keyboard and mouse, no sense complaining about stuff I can't change.
posted by Sukiari at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2008


People who put their fingers in their ears and go "LA-LA-LA" (by simply calling anything about Apple fanboy fantasy) really aren't paying attention. Say what you will about Jobs; he thinks so far outside of the box that he isn't even on the same container ship. He embodies the very definition of a visionary — one who sees enough moves ahead that he changes the very nature of the game. And he hasn't just done it once, it is a pattern of the way he (and Apple and Pixar) have operated since the Apple I. This story is a perfect example, and I love reading this kind of stuff.

Someone's got a poster in their room.
posted by mattoxic at 3:08 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apple waited nearly five years after the first mp3 players launched to launch one of its own.

True, but people didn't start buying mp3 players in any significant number until Apple made them. Jobs then went on and made online music retailing an industry. It does take someone with vision to be able to reinvent dead or stale markets.

Apple waited nearly three years after the first disk-based video players to launch one of its own.

We'll see next week if they can do the same with video rentals.

Apple waited eleven years after the Nokia Communicator and six years after S60 to launch a "smartphone" that doesn't let its users load smart apps, run MMS, wirelink to a real keyboard, plug in cards, or record video.

Most of which is entirely superfluous for 99.99999% of smartphone users. To reiterate another point made in this thread: complaining about a "lack" of features in the iPhone misses the point utterly and completely — and interestly, yet again, after the iPod's success.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on January 10, 2008


My iPhone is totally sweet.
posted by hellphish at 3:36 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm interested to see if Apple can do something to make online rentals compelling. Paying $4 for a 24 hour rental doesn't interest me at all... and besides, I already have that through Amazon Unbox + Tivo.
posted by smackfu at 3:36 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was pretty stoked about the iPhone; I've been a Mac advocate for years, both when I do and don't have a running Apple computer, I've endorsed them. And when I saw what the iPhone was going to be able to do, I really wanted one.

But being poor, and avoiding gen 1 products, I held off. Several of my co-workers got them and while some hung onto them, several chose to resell theirs on eBay.

I was quite surprised, though their explanation made good sense: it's expensive and delicate. Which is to say, it's too expensive and delicate to just treat like a phone; something you toss into your pocket and forget about until you need it.

I'm hard on equipment, and I would be sad to see something I spent that much money on get broken and scratched within a couple of weeks. So now I'm really excited about the Android OS. The idea of getting some higher end functionality on cheaper hardware? That is the new hotness.

I still wouldn't mind an iPhone, but I'll think I'll hold off till they are as common as dirt (and available on my carrier.)
posted by quin at 3:36 PM on January 10, 2008


It does take someone with vision to be able to reinvent dead or stale markets.

Back then (99-01), I did a market analysis just before Apple launched. I don't recall the exact figures, but the total sales had been growing by something like 30% quarter on quarter for several years. Pretty robust. It's hard to remember back to 2001 now given Apple's success, but around that time *everyone* was launching or had launched mp3 players. Intel's little mp3 players in 2001 were pretty good, but Intel shut down the whole consumer dept following the crash. The Compaq player was also good, but a little large.

complaining about a "lack" of features in the iPhone misses the point utterly and completely

And what is the point again? That Wired article apparently manages to miss conveying it to me - I get better iphone porn from the NY Times.

I heard stuff like this from people in the early-mid 90s trying to tell me how great it was that AOL just gave you what you needed without making it all too complicated. That was enough for many people for a long time and more power to them. That's how I think of Apple's consumer electronics - AOL for the noughties, made into hardware.
posted by meehawl at 3:38 PM on January 10, 2008


Apple waited eleven years after the Nokia Communicator and six years after S60 to launch a "smartphone" that doesn't let its users load smart apps, run MMS, wirelink to a real keyboard, plug in cards, or record video.

Yeah. Um. I want my phone to be able to make and receive calls, maybe take a couple of pictures, and send and receive text messages. I can go around my office and poll everyone else around here, even the ones who use fancy-schmancy Blackberries, and dollars to doughnuts they use them for the same stuff. They're not so much needing the every-freaking-thing-in-a-phone.

But whatever. I got an iPod Touch for xmas, and goddamn I love it. Gorgeous and functional and just a joy to handle and use. Also, I love my girlfriend, who gave me the lovely thing.
posted by rtha at 3:42 PM on January 10, 2008


complaining about a "lack" of features in the iPhone misses the point utterly and completely — and interestly, yet again, after the iPod's success.
It's a mindset too entrenched for people to give up, Blazecock. The iPod had no wireless, lessspacethananomad, it had to fail. Therefore, the only reasons for the iPods mystifying success must be meaningless ones. Incomprehensible things like fashion and coolness. Adverts! That was it! If only SanDisk used adverts, they could outsell the iPod too!

There are still manufacturers out there going "but look, we play Ogg, and we have support for SD cards and changable batteries, look at all the ticks on this feature list" and geeks going "yes, they are the better players", as if things that matter to geeks are the only possible rating scale for "better".

on preview: Yep, here's meehawl with an "ah, they're just AOL" write-off.

It's locked down. And the reason it's locked down is because of obnoxious phone companies colluding to screw the customer.
I think that's a stretch. If the article is even close to the truth, then it sounds like they were sweating right up to the wire to get the thing out the door, just like another Apple product that launched sans-SDK: The Mac.

Also: Everyone talking about Android? Riiiiiiight.
posted by bonaldi at 3:53 PM on January 10, 2008


just gave you what you needed without making it all too complicated.
You know what else gave us just what we needed without making it all too complicated? Netscape.

That's how I think of Android -- Gopher for the noughties, made into hardware.
posted by bonaldi at 3:55 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


here's meehawl with an "ah, they're just AOL" write-off.

AOL made billions and created an entire generation of millionaire employees, lots of tech spinoffs, wealthy shareholders, and changed the Internet and online communication in deep, deep ways. You can argue as to its positives and negatives, but it had a huge impact. As has Apple.

I just see a similarity in the marketing approach and execution of Apple under Jobs II and AOL under Case I.
posted by meehawl at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2008


A flatter keyboard means less carpal-tunnel. You know, Apple, they do this thing called "design." And I'm sure razor-thin anodized aluminum keyboards cost more to make than 5 cents.

Not much of an ear for sarcasm, I see.

Aluminum is cheap. It melts at low temperature, it's soft and easy to machine. It looks fantastic, but compared to steel, it's dirt cheap.

"Design"...Yeah, I've heard of that. In fact, I just posted a comment about it! Wait -- it's the comment you're answering! What a conincidence!

Besides, if you don't like it, there's nothing stopping you from picking up a $10 sure-to-be-crappy keyboard from someone else.

Oh, this is such a hunk of warm, steaming bullshit.

First, many of the best keyboards I've ever used were incredibly cheap.

Second, anyone with experience of both the Mac and PC keyboard world knows that PC keyboards are much, much more forgiving than PC keyboards. This is across the board. I've yet to find a conventional-design (i.e., dome-cap) keyboard for Macs that isn't quite a bit stiffer than your average PC keyboard. I don't know why that is, but that's my experience. My theory is that they do it to make their keyboards feel more like apple keyboards, which have traditionally been very stiff and had unusually long throws. Tradition, in other words.

Finally, to answer a point I did not quote: Short travel keyboards do NOT prevent RSIs. It all depends on how hard the bottom is. To get a good clean strike on one of these keyboards, you will find people hitting them HARD. BANGING THE HELL OUT OF THEM.

Hurting their fingers as they do.

Laptops have really short travel keyboards.

People who work on laptop keybaords a lot have terrible RSI problems.

So, tell me again how short travel keyboards are better?

Apple hasn't been serious about ergonomics for years. It's all voodoo ergonomics over there now. Those jokers don't even understand the difference between an 'operation' and a 'task.' (Which is kind of a critical distinction if you want to do a time and motion study.)
posted by lodurr at 4:07 PM on January 10, 2008


It is next-to-impossible to have a good product that is made from just anybody's components.

spock, that is highly illogical. I'm curious, what kind of computer or appliance did you use to write that comment?
posted by finite at 4:17 PM on January 10, 2008


Every mention in the article of the wireless industry changing forever should be followed by "...in the U.S." All other countries have vastly surpassed the U.S. both in terms of the network and phone capabilities. The iPhone does give me hope that this will change.
posted by odinsdream at 4:24 PM on January 10, 2008


Also - rooms full of robots? What?
posted by odinsdream at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2008


Cingular 8125

The Cingular 8125 is the HTC Wizard and really is about 4 generations old by now. HTC is a nice, relatively hands-off Taiwanese phone maker that also happens to make most of the smartphones in the world, including Treos (along with Inventec). The HTC Kaiser (a followup to the Cingular 8525 and the Sprint Mogul) is one of the more interesting widely available smartphones available now that is not Symbian. HTC also makes the Touch, an obvious iphone homage and a surprisingly large seller.

HTC seems to be trying to enter the phone design space more and has done its own version of a UI and design for Windows phones that is refreshingly monochrome. The HTC streaming media player also works well on YouTube etc, which is nice.

If you're into really hacking phones, here's an excellent HTC geek forum.
posted by meehawl at 4:51 PM on January 10, 2008


Every mention in the article of the wireless industry changing forever should be followed by "...in the U.S." All other countries have vastly surpassed the U.S. both in terms of the network and phone capabilities.

Ok ok but you must admit that OBVIOUSLY telecom execs from outside the U.S. must have used time machines to travel into the future and copy Steve's brilliant inventions. Even their time machines were obtained in this way.

The iPhone does give me hope that this will change.

That is strange, because it does to opposite for me. The iPhone is a step in the wrong direction in almost every way. Carrier lock-in, iTunes lock-in (if you buy anything from the iTunes store), 3rd party software lock-out, the SDK coming in Feb which will have digitally-signed apps (almost certainly, there will be no free or user-modifiable software), no user-accessible filesystem, no voip, etc. Can you please explain what exactly about the iPhone gives you hope??
posted by finite at 4:52 PM on January 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Aluminum is cheap. It melts at low temperature, it's soft and easy to machine. It looks fantastic, but compared to steel, it's dirt cheap.

Dude.. Aluminum might be cheaper after complex machining, maybe.. Stamped aluminum is way more expensive than stamped steel.
posted by Chuckles at 4:56 PM on January 10, 2008


There are some things that do give me hope that the mobile industry will get better: OpenMoko, Qtopia Phone Edition, FreeSmartPhone.org, the Homebrew Mobile Phone Club, and even the Open Handset Alliance. I don't expect the Neo1973 to outsell the iPhone anytime soon, but all of the most popular smart phones today run Symbian, PalmOS, or Windows, and all three of those are drastically more open than the iPhone (and I don't expect that to change after the Feb SDK). Furthermore, Palm is switching to Linux, and Nokia (who famously sold over a million phones per day* in Q4 '06) is getting more and more open**, and a lot of Windows phones (eg, those HTCs) can run Linux and will soon have a choice of running OpenMoko, Qtopia, Android, and who knows what else. I see a bright future for tiny computers, and Apple is not a significant part of it.
*granted, most of those million weren't smart phones, but even Nokia's basic phones have some in-demand features that the iPhone lacks.
**Nokia's non-phone Linux dabbling at maemo.org is not as open as it initially appeared to be, unfortunately.

posted by finite at 5:29 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't recall the exact figures, but the total sales had been growing by something like 30% quarter on quarter for several years. Pretty robust

Robust relative to what? The iPod blew its competitors away — and it wasn't even available for Windows until the second revision.

And what is the point again?

The point is that obscure technical wankery is cool but does not make for a useful feature for everyone, and that a successful product will focus on the collected utility that is lacking in more or less every other smartphone: data synchronization, web browsing, etc. and a solid, intuitive user interface to pull them together, which doesn't require a CS degree to figure out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:30 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The iPhone is awesome and popular and necessary for the same reasons that Obama is awesome and popular and necessary: it gives people something to dream on.

Or, to put it another way:

THE IPHONE IS WHERE YOU DISCOVER WONDER AND WHERE YOU FIGHT AND NEVER HURT EARTH IF YOU STOP BELIEVING THIS YOUR MOOD TURNS UGLY.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:42 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


> The iPhone is awesome and popular and necessary for the same reasons that Obama is awesome and popular and necessary:

Yes, I see the similarity. The iPhone is revolutionary the same way Obama is black: technically yes but in a way that doesn't pose too much threat to business as usual.

I can imagine two ways something as basically trivial as a cell phone might actually be pretty revolutionary: 1. it's free. Or nearly so, such as a software mod for garage door openers. 2. It communicates worldwide without using anybody's cellular network. Either of those really would blow up the industry.
posted by jfuller at 6:12 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


lodurr:

In my experience, the most common carpal tunnel injuries occur because people don't use their keyboards the way they were intended, with their hands raised slightly above the keyboard, floating in the air. People tend to rest their wrists on the desk, which bends them backwards, which strains the muscles that run from the arms to the fingers. (thus the big market for wrist rests.) Now, I'm not a doctor or anything, but having a keyboard level with the desk with a slight incline to it seems much more ergonomic to me; you don't even need a wrist rest.

And if you're BANGING the keys really HARD, maybe you should try decaf. I've never seen anyone BANGING the keys on their laptop unless they were stressed or playing a first-person shooter or something.

I think my point is, why do people like Apple so much? Because it seems like they put thought into their stuff. For instance, yesterday I was on the Dell site, pricing their high-end workstations. These were $4500-$5000 computers I was looking at, and to my surprise, what do they come with by default? $15 keyboards and $5 roller-ball mice. Really? You have to pay extra to get a friggin' optical mouse?

Now, one of the Apple designs I actually hate the most is the Mighty Mouse. But I appreciate that they put thought into it, and tried to give it something extra, and it comes free with every computer. And if I don't like it, I can always use something else, including $5 mice.
posted by fungible at 6:54 PM on January 10, 2008


On my phone, I browse with Opera and synchronise over wifi or bluetooth (or with USB if a cable is handy by just plugging it in. How much simpler could it get?

I also get to play Tradewinds and old Atari VCS games.

I think the iphone is a good thing for the US market if only because it demonstrated tyat many people were willing to spend serious coin for a phone advertised as a high end communicator. Until recently high end phone sales there were shit except for dull corporate phones. Over the next year there will be some very tasty imports being subsidised.

In terms of changing the game, I think 3G with Skype Mobile, visual VOIP video calls, and Orb-enabled-or-similar streaming video and audio from home servers is fantastic. It's totally changed how I perceive the utility of my phone.
posted by meehawl at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2008


Which is to say, it's too expensive and delicate to just treat like a phone; something you toss into your pocket and forget about until you need it.

That's how I treat mine, and it looks exactly the same now as it did when I bought it. I don't have a case on it, I don't protect it in any way. I just stick it in my front pocket. My sole concession to screen protection is not putting change or keys in that pocket.

So far, at least, it's held up just fine.

I've hacked mine now; the 3rd party apps are starting to get good. One tiny but useful application: a level. Yes, like a bubble level. It's not quite as sensitive as a real bubble, but it's pretty close, and it's handy to have with you always. There are several HP calculator emulators, and they've gotten SCUMMVM running... so after some time converting and compressing the files off the CD, I now have Day of the Tentacle running on my iPhone. It looks great!

With the third-party application development, I think it's going to be exactly what so many people wanted.... a full-fledged computer in your pocket. Eight gigs is a CRAPLOAD of space for programs.

At this point, it's looking like even if the dev kit is crippled to require Apple-signed binaries... it won't matter, because they shipped it buggy to start with. You can just restore any iPhone to 1.1.1, hack it, and then, apparently, upgrade. (I haven't upgraded to 1.1.2 myself, I just installed the security fixes.)

Apple didn't lock it down well enough to start with, and because of that, I suspect it will be very difficult to close people out of it later on.
posted by Malor at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2008


Eight gigs is a CRAPLOAD of space for programs.

Yes. But you know what's better than 8 GB? A slot to swap in and out 8 GB cards. I like having a card for my books, a card for my games (including, yes, all the LucasArts SCUMM games that run well on a small screen) and a card for all the really monster apps.

I'm impressed that Apple has held fast all these years and refused to add a card slot to any ipod (or now any of its phones/handhelds). That really drives the upgrade market and does wonders for its bottom line.

When I got my phone, there were only 512 MB cards available for its format. The 8 GBs just came out and are crazy expensive. Now I look forward to 12/16+ GB cards before long, which will drive down the prices with the usual rapidity. The 4 GB microSDHC are now pushing into the below-$30 region. That's just crazy.
posted by meehawl at 7:49 PM on January 10, 2008


No case or protection on my iphone either and it looks great. I didn't think I would "drink the kool aid" but I went back for seconds. This product is amazing and I'm way hooked.
posted by pearlybob at 7:51 PM on January 10, 2008


These were $4500-$5000 computers I was looking at, and to my surprise, what do they come with by default? $15 keyboards and $5 roller-ball mice. Really? You have to pay extra to get a friggin' optical mouse?

Really? You have to pay extra to get a DVD burner in the laptop? Really? You have to pay $500 for another 2GB of RAM in a Mac Pro? Really? You have to BUY A MONITOR with a Mac mini?

Sure, Apple thinks about stuff. So does every other company on the face of the planet. You want your computer to come with a really nice keyboard and mouse set; I want my computer to come with a DVD burner included in the purchase price. It's great that Apple's various quirks and deficiencies happen to apply to areas you don't care about, but that's not the way it is for everyone.
posted by chrominance at 7:51 PM on January 10, 2008


(I know the Mac mini isn't supposed to come with a monitor, keyboard or mouse. The point is that for some customers, that arrangement isn't ideal. Same with the el-cheapo mice/keyboard that comes with the Dell.)
posted by chrominance at 7:54 PM on January 10, 2008


Yeah, that would be cooler, but 8gb is likely to suit me fine for a few years. At that point, I can re-evaluate my needs, and perhaps go to a different phone. And I generally have my laptop with me, so swapping programs around wouldn't be that difficult anyway. No, it's not as convenient as detachable cards, but I suspect it'll be adequate.

With the extremely tight tolerances, a reader would probably have required a bigger case, and it's just exactly the right size as it is. It fits perfectly in a front jeans pocket; you can barely even tell you have it until it rings. I don't know that an SD slot would have compromised that, but I definitely wouldn't want it any bigger.
posted by Malor at 7:56 PM on January 10, 2008



People who accuse Steve Jobs of stealing don't know enough computer history to know what stealing is. Hint: See Bill Gates and the DOS product he originally sold IBM.

Someone's got a poster in their room.

No, but I do have one of the original (unworn) "Here's to the Crazy Ones" t-shirts that was on office wall for years!

I'm curious, what kind of computer or appliance did you use to write that comment?

Well, this isn't about me, but I'm writing this comment from home on a Powerbook Pismo laptop (which was discontinued 7 years ago, yesterday). It's running OS X 10.3.9 and has a Cisco Aironet card stuck in the PCMCIA slot that connects to my base station: A 733 mhz G4 tower that is still running Jaguar downstairs. My original comment was written from my office on a dual processor G5 Mac Pro running the latest Tiger OS X. I administer servers at a lowly state university, including Windows, Linux and Macs. My office also has Dells, one running XP and one running Vista.

Like most people who "know about computers" I get asked tech support questions from lots of people (Windows and Mac). It is abundantly clear that the one with the Reality Distortion field is not Steve Jobs, but Bill Gates who has people (and businesses) using an OS that is the technological equivelent of self-flaggelation and (for the most part) coming back for more. If you want to talk just issues relating to viruses and spyware, there is no contest between OS X and Windows. Vista is pissing off even the most ardent MS supporters, as life replicates The Onion, and Microsoft actually gives users the ability to "upgrade" back to Windows XP.

I'd gladly buy an uglier product, if it did the job better, lasted longer, was a greater pleasure to use and wasn't a regular pain in the rectum. What people who try to disparage Apple for their (repeatedly) award-winning design fail to get is that design for the sake of design is just looks. But people who don't get how to design (or care) about design probably don't get and don't care about other stuff, as well. Apple's product box design is just your first indicator of the level of thought that goes into the product inside the box.

Marketing departments are supposed to sell sizzle. Apple makes it easyfor them by throwing one hell of a piece of meat on the grill.
posted by spock at 8:10 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am disappointed you don't have a cube.
posted by smackfu at 8:14 PM on January 10, 2008


(Not that I should talk, I'm writing this on a G4 mini.)
posted by smackfu at 8:15 PM on January 10, 2008


I just got a Cube (picked it out of the "garbage" before it went on the truck to the recyclers about a month ago). Unfortunately, I did not get the power supply - so still on the lookout for one of those. For possible donations, please use my MeFi mail. Thanks!
posted by spock at 8:20 PM on January 10, 2008


My boyfriend used to have a BlackBerry for work and used it all the time for its functionality, but really hated that thing because it was ugly and clunky. Then he got an iPhone. Oh man, not only is that thing the only gadget I have ever actively coveted, but he uses it all the time. Syncs it up to his computer, uses it as an iPod, torments me with YouTube videos of ridiculous crap shoved in my face when I'm trying to sleep and/or concentrate. The man doesn't even use paper for writing to-do lists anymore.

And this is a guy with a BS in computer science and an MS (verging on PhD) in electrical engineering. I would say that unless you have a particular nit to pick, or you just want to be a tool, that it's pretty damned functional.

It's also the prettiest toy of them all.

I had wondered about the exclusive contract with AT&T, this article explained it well, so thanks!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:24 PM on January 10, 2008


Can I just mention that I'm quite annoyed that Wired is putting up articles online before they even get published and sent to subscribers... I bet they think they're going to get scooped by MacWorld.
posted by smackfu at 8:36 PM on January 10, 2008


My point in asking, spock, was that whatever you're using (unless you were actually posting your comment from an iPhone) it is probably compatible with tons of other hardware and software. The Aironet card in your powerbook is a nice example. I think your PowerBook was (and still is) a "good product" despite being compatible with "just anybody's components".
I am writing this on an iBook G4 running Debian.
posted by finite at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2008


Sure, Apple thinks about stuff. So does every other company on the face of the planet.

I really don't think they do, sometimes. I'd say my most common mantra when dealing with tech gadgets or software is, "Who the fuck designed this thing? What were they thinking?" (Including, at times, Apple; just usually a whole lot less.)
posted by fungible at 8:43 PM on January 10, 2008


I don't know that an SD slot would have compromised that, but I definitely wouldn't want it any bigger.

SD would be pretty large (and isn't that something considering how CF was the standard a few years ago). But I don't think Apple forsook a card slot because of size concerns. MicroSD is small. I mean, really really small. Alarmingly small. We're talking little-fingernail-small (and I have small hands). I mean, so damn small it's ridiculously easy to drop the buggers and lose them. 15 x 11 x 0.7 mm. I think that's less than half the surface area of a US ¢ and between 6-7 laser paper sheets thick.
posted by meehawl at 9:00 PM on January 10, 2008


Can I just mention that I'm quite annoyed that Wired is putting up articles online before they even get published and sent to subscribers

Yeah, I hate it when publishers take progressive steps toward internet-friendly new-media paradigms. Fuckers.
posted by cortex at 9:09 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


My comment about "everybody's components" was more of an OS and drivers issue than anything. One of the big reasons that Apple's OS has always been relatively stable has been that they only need to write for a known set of components (whereas on the Windows/Linux side, you could be running on infinite combinations of different motherboards/graphics cards etc.) This is not so much of a problem today, but it was one reason for the relative stability of Apple's closed/proprietary way vs the great unwashed masses of computers running other OSes. I was just applying that same thinking to why the iPhone starts out closed. Once it has a certain "critical mass" of acceptance (you have an army of beta testers) then you can stabilize the product and start to use some leverage with it.

That being said, I'm a huge proponent of Open Source and openness is products for development purposes. Make no mistake: iPhone is not just a phone, it is a platform and I guarantee you that Apple will have a strategy for it after the exclusive agreement with AT&T expires. How many different models will be in the iPhone platform by then, and what the wireless carrier environment looks like then, is anybody's guess. I'm not going out too far on a limb to prognosticate that there will be more mergers and smaller companies (like Alltel, for example) will probably be absorbed into the big boys. Part of me would like to see AT&T purchase Alltel so iPhones would be more practical in places like Nebraska (but I believe that I read that there is an underlying incompatability between their wireless infrastructure).

I don't think that Apple poops gold. They make missteps. The latest iMovie seems to be a turd, for example. And I would also avoid point-zero releases and 1st gen products, just on the principal that I hate paying a premium to be a corporations beta tester. I'll buy when the product is mature, stable and cheaper - if it is even a success. I don't own an iPod or an iPhone, but mostly because I'm not wealthy and have other things in my life that require the money I do earn (like daughter's weddings, a telescope, and a '79 MGB [that a BIL gave to me] that sits in my garage torturing me).
posted by spock at 9:18 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Look, Apple doesn't think about everything to the degree they think about their design. Its true.

The iPhone is missing some features, but they left it so they could add features to it later (and setup their accounting structure to allow this) once they got it out the door. Of course they missed MMS, text messaging to multiple, etc.

But they made it so you really didn't care that you were missing those things. Copy paste would be nice, but I am not cursing jobs when I use the phone.

I am cursing him when I am trying to bind 10.5.1 in a large AD environment and it is failing because dsconfigad has decided it is going to query for servers that host LDAP and Kerberos services separately, and take the first response each, instead of you know, using the same server for both services.

Or the fact that timemachine doesn't have a configurable option to truely disable it or set its schedule.

Or you can't disable spotlight indexing of new volumes across the board.

Or that apple hasn't published their own .mac spec for third party or small business users to implement.

Or that they just can't seem to swallow their pride and cooperate about actually making tools and software available for businesses (A single 1u xserve, ancient raid, and an entire training division that has been gutted do not count). So people can actually use what they have at home in the office.

Etc.

Those are things to pissed at apple about.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:31 PM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


tkchrist explained -- succinctly and precisely -- why the iPhone is revolutionary.

It's been explained over and over again in the last 6 months and it is quite amusing the prodigious quantities of people who have difficulty understanding it. Are these the same sort of people who buy 17" monitors instead of 24" monitors for themselves or their developers because 24" monitors cost a few hundred dollars more. Or who are unable to reach the obvious conclusion that a $1200 chair is cheaper than a $200 chair if the sitter spends 5-7 minutes a day more in the cheap chair losing his/her focus to try and find a comfortable position?

I think the primary reason the iPhone was released locked down because they barely got it done in time, with a herculean development effort. They simply did not have the time & resources to get the SDK to a releasable level of quality/completeness by June2007. Releasing it wide open would hardly be fair to consumers who are going to be using it for online banking etc.
posted by lastobelus at 11:41 PM on January 10, 2008


Yes. But you know what's better than 8 GB? A slot to swap in and out 8 GB cards.

Nope, because then I gotta worry about keeping tracks of cards, and which cards to take with me when I go to the office or on vacation, etc, etc and really, wasn't this damn thing supposed to simply my life?

Don't get me a wrong, I see your point, it would be nice to have that option, no question, but I don't need it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:34 AM on January 11, 2008


W.r.t. the iPhone, additional features, size, etc., there's one point that's being missed:

Other manufacturers made devices with larger hardware feature sets in similar form factors before the iPhone was released.

So the whole "you couldn't have [SD / GSM / insert_here] because it would blow up the size of the device" argument is pretty much prima facie bogus.

Another point that's being missed is that given its mindshare leverage, Apple at this point could gold plate a turd and it would get called revolutionary. Near feature-matching, say, the HTC Touch or the Helio Ocean in a design package consistent with Apple's overall style? Slam dunk.

Apple got a fantastic deal from AT&T. Bully for them. But really, it ain't so good for us, because we're still stuck (assuming we use iPhones) with slow network services, a UI that requires many more interactions than it should to accomplish simple tasks, insidious ties to Apple's DRM machine, and a platform that is locked-down as a matter of core philosophy.

Sure, it looks fantastic. But I ain't goin' near one. Except to fix somebody else's.
posted by lodurr at 3:54 AM on January 11, 2008


"I dp wish some of the engineers had been named though"

Andy Belk
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 4:08 AM on January 11, 2008


I think my point is, why do people like Apple so much? Because it seems like they put thought into their stuff. ...

The key word in there for me is "seems."

In fact, it's clear they do put thought into their stuff. But where's that thought directed, and how are decisions made about where to direct it?

Appleites love them some Emotional Design. And it's clear that Apple does in fact cherish Emotional Design as an ideal. I maintain that their version of Emotional Design is analogous to Intelligent Design, inasmuch as it radically privileges the emotional impact of the design over functional considerations.

That does not mean that there are no functional considerations. But they do seem to me to clearly assume that designing to the emotional end will necessarily produce a good functional result. That's a lot like the way Libertarians and Objectivists assume that if everyone acts in their own enlightened self-interest, everything will be great and we won't need laws. The fact that's clear to anyone doing industrial design who's not an idiot is that occasionally there are things that are going to be, shall we say, emotionally counter-intuitive, but which are wildly better from a functional perspective -- e.g., entail better productivity.

Now, one of the Apple designs I actually hate the most is the Mighty Mouse. But I appreciate that they put thought into it, and tried to give it something extra, and it comes free with every computer. And if I don't like it, I can always use something else, including $5 mice.

You appreciate how much thought they put into a crappy design?

Maybe instead of "putting thought into it" they could have outsourced a few user tests to objective testers -- people who didn't drink Apple koolaid day and night? Because everyone I've personally watched trying to use a Mighty Mouse has all kinds of problems with it, even as they fucking fall in love with the thing.

But that was also true of the original Dove bar mouse and the hockey puck mouse, and they didn't learn from that. I'd say, 'maybe they should spend more time watching people use them and less time thinking about them,' but from their perspective, that's wrong, because what they want is not a functional device. What they want is a device people love. Those two things have no necessary relationship with one another.
posted by lodurr at 4:09 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another point that's being missed is that given its mindshare leverage, Apple at this point could gold plate a turd and it would get called revolutionary.

Yeah, that Apple TV really took off, eh?

Near feature-matching, say, the HTC Touch or the Helio Ocean in a design package consistent with Apple's overall style? Slam dunk.


They already got a slam dunk.

slow network services,

THIS version.

a UI that requires many more interactions than it should to accomplish simple tasks

Depends

, insidious ties to Apple's DRM machine,

What do you mean here?

and a platform that is locked-down as a matter of core philosophy.

I know, if only they'd release an SDK and soon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 AM on January 11, 2008


I know, if only they'd release an SDK and soon.

They're too busy with patenting made-up terms like Emotional Design.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:06 AM on January 11, 2008


Blacecock: You're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking. Even if just to make me feel better.
posted by lodurr at 5:12 AM on January 11, 2008


You're joking, right?

For my next trick, I will call Apple users creationists.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:19 AM on January 11, 2008


Other manufacturers made devices with larger hardware feature sets in similar form factors before the iPhone was released.

Like what, exactly? I've never seen anything like the iPhone. It's a remarkably powerful little device, and it has an awesome form factor. I've never had or seen a phone that you can literally forget you have with you in the same way; they're always bulky enough to notice. (mostly because they're thick). The iPhone is slim enough to be perfect for a jeans pocket.

They're neat devices as shipped; with a jailbreak, mine's becoming much cooler.
posted by Malor at 5:22 AM on January 11, 2008


I woke up this morning with the realization that there is one sentence in the article that is pure crap: (Details of this and other key moments in the making of the iPhone were provided by people with knowledge of the events. Apple and AT&T would not discuss these meetings or the specific terms of the relationship.)

This article was written with the full approval, if not directly sourced by, Steve Jobs. The timing of it, releasing it in the buzz building days before the MacWorld Expo, was probably planned and dictated by Steve Jobs.
posted by spock at 5:32 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're most likely correct, spock.
posted by Malor at 5:38 AM on January 11, 2008


Look, we can go back and forth all day about the goddamn iPhone, how if it just did this you would totally buy it or if they would just change that it would be great or that it's silly and arrogant of Apple not to include feature X, which is absolutely needed. A million or so people thought it was swell as it is currently and bought it and most seem to be enjoying. Yeah, that's not a huge piece of the market, I know, I know, but it is a million or so people and if you're saying a million people don't matter, that's silly and arrogant.

Buy the fucking thing or don't, but please spare the world your scorn because it can't telnet into servers or doesn't have multiple science calculators. You and I may care but most don't.

Also, for the last time, they're releasing an SDK in February. It's currently the middle of January. IThe SDK may change everything. It may suck. Whatever, at least wait till it's out before continually bitching about how developers can't write apps for it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brandon, you are free to stop talking about this just like everyone else is.
posted by lodurr at 6:07 AM on January 11, 2008


For my next trick, I will call Apple users creationists.

Just for the record, I do not think Apple users are creationists. I'm definitely not. But I do think that Apple fanbois are like creationists in some interesting and (to me) disturbing ways.

posted by lodurr at 6:09 AM on January 11, 2008


Spock, that's a good point. I'd like to think we make a similar baseline assumption about all Wired articles, but even if we do, the assumption sort of slides below our consciousness after a while -- we get inured to it, forget that the whole tech-"journalism" thing is a big circle-jerk exercise in logrolloing.
posted by lodurr at 6:11 AM on January 11, 2008


you are free to stop talking about this just like everyone else is.

Everyone else hasn't stopped.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on January 11, 2008


So you've got to keep talking as long as they do?
posted by lodurr at 7:22 AM on January 11, 2008


Lodurr, at this point, we're just two nerds saying bitching about X, so do you have something else to add, say, agree with, refute or rebute to what I wrote or are you content with having the last word?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2008


Excuse me, nerds. I will have the last word. Ricecakes.
posted by poppo at 8:25 AM on January 11, 2008


Is this the room where I get to have the last word?

or is that down the hall?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:00 AM on January 11, 2008


In fact, it's clear they do put thought into their stuff. But where's that thought directed, and how are decisions made about where to direct it?
Into places that satisfy Ye Common Man and that drive people like you nuts.

Everyone who wants swappable memory cards just doesn't get it so hard, so it must be, uh, nerd koolaid. Yep.
posted by bonaldi at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2008


word
posted by sfts2 at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2008


You appreciate how much thought they put into a crappy design?

Yes! They took the time to think about the user interface and the experience, rather than just throwing another $5 black plastic generic piece of shit they had lying around into the box like everyone else.

In my opinion, they were wrong about this one, but I can appreciate it. And most of their other equipment is exceedingly functional, beyond the "emotional design" bullshit. How do I know? They function well. Duh.
posted by fungible at 10:26 AM on January 11, 2008


Yes! They took the time to think about the user interface and the experience, rather than just throwing another $5 black plastic generic piece of shit they had lying around into the box like everyone else.

Even though a $5 "black plastic piece of shit" (which actually isn't the alternative, but let's pretend that your excluded middle holds) would have been better in every measurable way?
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on January 11, 2008


Into places that satisfy Ye Common Man and that drive people like you nuts.

Satisfy them how, bonaldi? By making them feel good about what they just bought? Even if the cost is extra work they don't realize they're doing, not to mention contributing to the further mystification of technology when what we ought to be doing is de-mystifying it.
posted by lodurr at 10:50 AM on January 11, 2008


Brandon, why are you so concerned with who gets the last word? Is this a contest? Does one of us get to "win"? And how is that determined?
posted by lodurr at 10:51 AM on January 11, 2008


Wake me up when OS X can run multiple threads without wheezing.
posted by cytherea at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2008


FWIW, cytherea: On similar hardware, OS X (for me) handily outperforms XP for daily computing tasks. As long as there's enough RAM.

From the little I've seen of Vista, there would be no contest. Not that that's saying much.

Open it up to Win 2000, though, and all bets would be off.
posted by lodurr at 11:40 AM on January 11, 2008


Satisfy them how, bonaldi? By making them feel good about what they just bought?
No, by scoring high on all sorts of scales that I'm not even sure you are able to acknowledge without condescenion, especially if you think a $5 pos black plastic abomination can be better in every measurable way. Because there will be at least one way it's likely to fail: the feel of the key surface under one's fingers. Rough plastic boo.

Seriously, this stuff drives me nuts. Do you really think that people who appreciate things in Apple products that geeks discount can't possibly have a different yet equally valid assessment? No, apparently they must instead be hoodwinked by "emotion", or suckers for image, or drinkers of kool-aid. When that's demonstrably not true: Apple products fail all the time depsite looking good and feeling great and Jobs huckling them -- the ROKR, the Cube, iPod stereo, the Apple TV, and they do so because they don't meet up to the things that Apple users demand.

The iPhone was closed, and it doesn't matter much because it does the key things beautifully anyway. Who gives a shit that I can't send one text to 15 people, because every other text I send is handled perfectly and without a brain-dead interface like every other phone I've had.

The Apple TV was closed, and everybody hates it because it's Too Hard to play your downloaded movies on it. So it's dying.

There is a different scale at work here lodurr, and it's ironic you mention about the mystification of technology, when that's pretty much what Apple does. I can now put movies and music on my phone just seamlessly. Do I miss being able to download a SSH client to it? Do I fuck.
posted by bonaldi at 11:46 AM on January 11, 2008


Even though a $5 "black plastic piece of shit" (which actually isn't the alternative, but let's pretend that your excluded middle holds) would have been better in every measurable way?

That's total BS. "Every measurable way?" The iPhone is a remarkable device that does a number of things very very well. What were you expecting?

The entitlement that Apple-haters have is truly staggering, and is something I don't altogether understand. There's this sense that Apple has let people down or failed to deliver on some promise—a promise that they never actually made.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:47 AM on January 11, 2008


Seriously, this stuff drives me nuts. Do you really think that people who appreciate things in Apple products that geeks discount can't possibly have a different yet equally valid assessment?

No, I don't, and if you're honest with yourself and not getting "emotionally" involved in the argument, you would understand that.

Instead, you and your fanboi cohort expend great effort defending that which you claim needs no defense. Why is that? Perhaps it's Apple's emotional design investment, paying off.....
posted by lodurr at 11:54 AM on January 11, 2008


No, I don't, and if you're honest with yourself and not getting "emotionally" involved in the argument, you would understand that.

Well, then, you're no better than the largely-mythical strawmen fanboys who would unfailingly support Apple. Because there are plenty of valid, measurable reasons their approach has appeal, and that they don't matter to you doesn't mean they don't matter. As the market showed, when after years of false starts by just about everybody else the iPod just owned the whole goddamn world of portable music. Despite not having Ogg!

Instead, you and your fanboi cohort expend great effort defending that which you claim needs no defense. Why is that? Perhaps it's Apple's emotional design investment, paying off.....
Who claimed it didn't need any defence? Good things are always assailed by the idiotic.
posted by bonaldi at 12:06 PM on January 11, 2008


(And as someone who rocks a Thinkpad, I'm hardly a fanboi)
posted by bonaldi at 12:07 PM on January 11, 2008


No, I don't
Wait, hang on, are you saying you accept there are other reasons? I mis-read you, sorry. But it's easy to see why, because every other post you make on the subject suggests you believe the exact opposite.
posted by bonaldi at 12:09 PM on January 11, 2008


I mis-read you, sorry. But it's easy to see why, because every other post you make on the subject suggests you believe the exact opposite.

That's because I emotionally design my posts to make you feel as though I'm saying something I'm not.
posted by lodurr at 12:14 PM on January 11, 2008


You wish. It's harder to be Apple than you think. Ask the Zune team.

No, the reason I mis-read you was simple. When I said Apple's choices satisfy Ye Common Man, you asked "How, by making them feel good?", which is, y'know, your own excluded middle. I didn't realise you were just posting for emotional effect. I thought you might have something to say.
posted by bonaldi at 12:18 PM on January 11, 2008


I didn't realise you were just posting for emotional effect. I thought you might have something to say.

Congratulations. You have just summarized the most common practice mode of Emotional Design. Have a cookie.
posted by lodurr at 12:24 PM on January 11, 2008


From someone exemplifying the most common practice mode of Troll-ass posting? No ta.
posted by bonaldi at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2008


Come off it. It's the same thing we all do. You do it -- you just wont' admit it. Every time you choose words for effect, you're "emotionally designing" your post.

You know, like you did just now.

That's emotional design.

That's why it's bad.
posted by lodurr at 12:38 PM on January 11, 2008


I don't think that's what "emotional design" means. You're really stretching here. The words, they are meaningless.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2008


I certainly don't think that's what Norman meant by it. And I don't think that's what people think they mean by it.

However, I am quite certain it is what "emotional design" actually, usually, is. In a single word: Bullshit.

And I think and have thought for a long time that's more or less the way it's practiced at Apple.
posted by lodurr at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2008


FWIW, cytherea: On similar hardware, OS X (for me) handily outperforms XP for daily computing tasks. As long as there's enough RAM.

First: Windows: Comparing a douce to a turd doesn't really say much. And the really sad part? That turd will still scale better. Eeeeww.

Second, I said threads. I don't care about how fast your toy OS can keep track of your grocery list in 3d with a super space background, or whatever cute little things you ask it to do.
posted by cytherea at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2008


So, is OS X the turd? Because while I couldn't prove it, I think it's possible that Win2K might scale better, for extremely large values of 1.

Mostly the "cute things I ask it to do" are to task switch between seven or eight memory and process hungry applications, while performing some (often process-intensive) stuff (like play music and synchronize files -- I know, but when it's Dreamweaver, yes, that's process intensive) in the background.

My point was that it works well enough, without having to look at thread performance.

Maybe there's nothing better on the desktop. I haven't had much luck with performance on Linux the last couple of times I tried to use it as my main environment. I'll take your word for what's better on the server, but I would never build a production webserver on OS X anyway.
posted by lodurr at 12:59 PM on January 11, 2008


And I think and have thought for a long time that's more or less the way it's practiced at Apple.
And do you think this is what makes the difference, and is why Apple is so successful in their fields? Despite it being the case that all the emotional design in the world makes no difference when their products suck, just like a sprinkling of it doesn't help their competitors against a great Apple product?

There are plenty of things Apple gets wrong. Some of them, like cytherea's threads problem are killers, but they justify them by saying they're decisions made to prioritise user-side things. Mac users couldn't give a toss about threads, but damn they care if iTunes stutters in the background.

Also: Windows is the turd in that example.
posted by bonaldi at 1:06 PM on January 11, 2008


Despite it being the case that all the emotional design in the world makes no difference when their products suck...

First, that's where you're mistaken. Products can suck mightily, and if the emotional design factors are "right", people will continue to eat them up with a spoon. In fact, a little bit of the right kind of suckage can be a valuable point of emotional fixation. Consider the MGB.

Second, I actually never said the products suck. I'm just saying that the design philosophy is pernicious and destructive.
posted by lodurr at 1:13 PM on January 11, 2008


Actually, I take part of that back. I have in the past gone to great lenghts to opine that certain Apple products (well, iTunes, at least) are just hideously awful and ought never be used by anyone.
posted by lodurr at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2008


First, that's where you're mistaken. Products can suck mightily, and if the emotional design factors are "right", people will continue to eat them up with a spoon.
Yes, but it doesn't often happen with Apple. Road Apples disappear. The emotional design on the G4 Cube was immense. It glowed, it shone, it looked awesome and operated brilliantly. Jobs threw everything into selling it. And it died on its fucking arse.

Thanks for correcting yourself on #2.
posted by bonaldi at 1:21 PM on January 11, 2008


I hereby trademark EmotionalDesign™ so that you can no longer abuse this part of the English language.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on January 11, 2008


Really, why does my observation about how people practice emotional design so offend you, Blazecock?

And why should it?

Do you think I'm impugning you and your practice of design? Well, if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.

Are you offended on behalf of the concept? Then defend it, don't call me out for abusing a sacred phrase.
posted by lodurr at 1:43 PM on January 11, 2008


I have read exactly this thread before, only last time it was about "It's a BREATH mint!" "NO, its a CANDY mint!"
posted by jfuller at 2:08 PM on January 11, 2008


and here I thought it was a floor wax.
posted by lodurr at 2:13 PM on January 11, 2008


he uses it all the time. Syncs it up to his computer, uses it as an iPod, torments me with YouTube videos of ridiculous crap shoved in my face when I'm trying to sleep and/or concentrate. The man doesn't even use paper for writing to-do lists anymore.

So, it's a phone that works as USB mass storage (or does it - I think Apple makes you use only its own sync program, yes?), plays mp3s, plays streaming video, and enables text notes. And it does it well. Not quote blowing up the mobile business.
posted by meehawl at 3:37 PM on January 11, 2008


I've never had or seen a phone that you can literally forget you have with you in the same way

iphone, 2007
115 × 61 × 11.6 mm
81.4 cm2

HTC Touch, 2007
99.9 x 58 x 13.9 mm
80.5 cm2

Razr, 2005
53 × 98 × 13 mm
68.8 cm2

etc etc
posted by meehawl at 3:54 PM on January 11, 2008


Are these the same sort of people who buy 17" monitors instead of 24" monitors for themselves or their developers because 24" monitors cost a few hundred dollars more.

AOL also cost more, historically, than plain old internet access. People paid for simplicity and hand holding a closed, "safe" space.

These phones all cost a lot more than Apple's phone. From your argument, the conclusion I shiould reach is that they are all "better".
posted by meehawl at 4:01 PM on January 11, 2008


Not quote blowing up the mobile business.

Except that, in 2007, the iPhone accounted for 1/4 of all "smartphone" sales. Your understanding of market forces is ... lacking.

Did you notice in those sizes you posted that the iPhone is thinner than both the other contenders? Your understanding of dimensions is ... lacking.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2008


Your understanding of dimensions is ... lacking.

Yeah, those two millimeters of difference are BRUTAL. Your pants pocket dimensions are ... lacking.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:18 PM on January 11, 2008


And it does it well. Not quote blowing up the mobile business.
And it does it well.

I've seen US phones. I'm surprised they don't burn your head and shoe you in the ticktocks for good measure. I'm in Europe and this phone is quite something, so I know that "and it does it well" is quite, quite something over there.
posted by bonaldi at 5:35 PM on January 11, 2008


in 2007, the iPhone accounted for 1/4 of all "smartphone" sales

First of all, those figures are US-specific. In the wider world, it's a reasonably respectable blip, but still small fry - the US market is a small outlier in this game. Secondly, and more crucially, it's not (yet) a smartphone, then it can't really count in the same category, now can it? I'd personally classify it within the "smart media phone" category. Only the amazing strength of the RDF keeps dragging it into the space of the boring, high-end, pricey, relatively low-selling corporate phones. Maybe when it gets an SDK and has a healthy and diverse software ecology that's based on a solid foundation and not on buffer exploits, *and* it has a bluetooth stack worth a damn, then it'll be ready to be called a smartphone.

I'm always amused by how Apple phone owners like to show me their exploited phones running some interesting, but small apps. Without things like PocketArtist, PhatNotes, MindMap or VisualGPS then the creative apps sadly lacking. And no, the etchasketch doesn't count. Windows is the least popular smartphone globally, and it has a respectable software ecology. Symbian's is even broader.

the iPhone is thinner than both the other contenders

Is it better to be thinner or wider? Also, yeah, 2 mm. One of those phone has a keyboard built-in. The other has a memory card slot and a removable battery. Seriously, what else have you got? Arguing over 2 mm is... troubling.
posted by meehawl at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2008


I'm always amused by how Apple-bashers like to claim the vital and important things their phones/computers/MP3 players can do are much more important than actually working well and not being clunk-tastic jism, despite the incredible clamour of the marketplace.

I'd love it if Apple had some serious competition: it'd make them less lazy and crazy and everybody would win. PocketArtist isn't it. MindMap isnt it. Series 60 and 80, oh god they so aren't it. But hey, they have copy and paste!

I mean, hang on, PocketArtist. PocketArtist. So you can show people yr digital etchings? Woah.
posted by bonaldi at 6:49 PM on January 11, 2008


I'm triply amused when a professed Apple fan is driven to diss "creative" software. I like PA because it's a quick and portable way to handle IPTC and EXIF on the go, and is a quick way to edit layers and adjust levels. But you want to use it as an doodler that's fine.

If I understand you, you're saying that actually doing things with software, expanding the functionality of your smartphone, is worthless? What really counts? If you're not expanding its utility, customising it to your needs, what's the point? That's just not smart.
posted by meehawl at 7:20 PM on January 11, 2008


I have a crippling comedy humour hernia when people think that IPTC and EXIF editing on their phone is something that reasonably compares with, ooh, Coverflow for Ye Common Man, and then my sides split and need surgical repair. Or something.

I'm not saying that expanding the functionality of the phone is worthless: I was hollering for an SDK early on too. I just think it's way, way, way down the totem pole compared to everything Apple got right on the iPhone and that nobody else has. I've used a lot of them, too. Their email clients all suck. Their browsers all heave. Their music players all struggle to mediocrity.

Their interfaces, to a one, uniformly, are just appalling. They're like bad clones of Windows, and many have bollocks like numbered internal drives, which they expose! Yowsa.

So, sure, it's good that you can download an EXIF editor. But it's so much more important to me to have a browser, mail client and sms threader that all work smooth-as. That's what's smart: they work. I've had more than one example of each of the major smartphone brands, and every single one has had at least one design decision that makes me go "what the fuck were these goons thinking?"

The smarts are in the don't-want-to-hurl-at-wall factor. Not in an ability to triangulate a GPS position to attach to the picture that was taken with the 5mp camera whose EXIF information I can then edit to suffix my todo-list, which I sorted by created date after exporting from my mindmap.
posted by bonaldi at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2008


(Though, of course, that would go in the IPTC :)
posted by bonaldi at 7:44 PM on January 11, 2008


I'd love it if Apple had some serious competition: it'd make them less lazy and crazy and everybody would win. PocketArtist isn't it. MindMap isnt it.

I'd like to add that I agree with you here. These ISVs are not trying to compete with Apple, they are using an existing platform to deliver their software. I'd bet they'd all love to release their stuff on Apple's phone. There's an entire *world* of great software out there. Sadly though, currently Apple makes it virtually impossible for most legitimate ISVs to port or create software for Apple's phone. Instead of just admitting, nearly a year ago, 'Hey, this stuff is hard and we just can't get an SDK together in time, or figure out how to maximise our ISV revenue in a way that makes sense for us to do it, so we're closing the phone for now but opening it on XXXX-XX-XX date', Apple instead chose to spin some CNBC-friendly horse crap about revenue recognition and about web apps being totally sufficient for all users, and that it would be adding functionality to the phone continually so that it just kept getting better and better and who needed "software" anyway? Right. I remember Jobs with the whole "virtual slots" rubbish on the original Mac as well. Still waiting for that avalanche of new functionality from Apple...

Despite Apple's best efforts a homebrew scene emerged (as if the example of the PSP wasn't enough warning). And so far, practically at every opportunity, Apple has not missed a chance to ding that. There are homebrew scenes for lots of other phones, and many of them don't tend to get borked so much by minor maintenance releases. Even on the Verizon network, which is about the closest you can get to the Imperial Empire in the US. It makes Vodafone look good (which is no surprise, considering that Verizon is basically almost 50% Vodafone).

Apple's hostility to open and free development on its phone may change. But right now, in the phone space, Apple is by far and away the least friendly and most developer hostile phone platform maker, and this is within a market where Microsoft and Sony operate. That takes some doing.
posted by meehawl at 7:56 PM on January 11, 2008


Yes, I agree with all of that too. The thing is ...

Apple is by far and away the least friendly and most developer hostile phone platform maker, and this is within a market where Microsoft and Sony operate. That takes some doing.

This is true and also, I think, irrelevant. It's just not going to matter. They can cream this market while still being incredibly hostile, because they're also swallowing up all the people using non-smart phones. 40% of UK iPhone buyers have never used data before.

The competition here isn't really Windows Mobile -- it's Series 40 (at best), and boy they've got that licked. At version 1.1.3!
posted by bonaldi at 8:04 PM on January 11, 2008


it's so much more important to me to have a browser, mail client and sms threader

I agree that threaded SMS is nice. That's why I grabbed the Treo's threaded SMS app and installed it on my phone - sweet. Also, Opera is a good browser, but on any small screen I want to reduce browsing crap as much as possible, that's why I favour the RSS clients so much. Get what I want, without the damn ads. If anyone releases a mobile browser with ad blocking that works then I will probably buy that straight away.

I agree that MS's Pocket Outlook mail client is a little dull. But it seems pretty robust - I actually opened a 9900-strong IMAP directory of unread mail with it and was amazed that after struggling for around 15 minutes it proceeded without crashing - my desktop email clients don't like that folder at all. However, I don't use it much. I like the gmail client, and Profimail/Flexmail seem to be popular with a bunch of people. FlexMail nice for the Windows phones, and it integrates well with Informant.

Their music players all struggle to mediocrity.

What are you looking for in a player? CorePlayer works well as a jack-of-all-media deal, and something like Resco Radio is amazing for having all the streaming builtin, ready to go. It also records on demand or on a timer, so it's like a mini radio Tivo in your pocket. If you want to stream your own tunes remotely, something like Orb or Slingplayer or LobsterTunes tunnels and transcodes quite well. And if you think PocketPlayer and PocketMusic are "mediocre" then you have very high standards indeed - or do they go beyond nice visualisation plugins like CoverFlow (which was great when Enright pimped it up early in 2005 but already seems cliched, it's in danger of becoming the Cthuga of the noughties, disco light trails for an ipod generation).

PM is worth it for me alone just to sync up with podcasts withot having to boot up any laptops. These also stream, of course, but are not single-tasked for that like Resco Radio. But seriously, what players do you consider worst of their breed?
posted by meehawl at 8:29 PM on January 11, 2008


Opera isn't a good browser, it's a dreadful browser that's not quite as painful as the rest and rocks on shit phones. I used it extensively, and while it's OK for reading texty sites like this one, graphics don't fare as well, and composing lengthy Mefi posts on it was sheer bloody murder, if the phone didn't crash. Safari's browser isn't perfect: it needs a password saver, but it's the "real" web. I haven't once had to take "but this is my phone" into consideration while surfing.

For Mail I used to use Flexmail as well. It's good enough, but it took an absolute age to start on my phone, and crashed more than once with HTML mail. It also felt desperately like a desktop app. This is a plus in all the iPhone apps: they're really designed to be used in the street, in haste. But, no, there's not much sparkling to the iPhone's Mail (although it does handle .doc attachments much better than my Mac does!) it's just solid and has never once let me down. Even on my own, sometimes tempermental, IMAP server, where other phones have left me rebooting to try and get them to talk to it again.

I didn't actually know about PocketPlayer. The demo shots look a lot like the iPhone's iPod, though :). PocketMusic, otoh, drove me daft. The sluggish damn thing would be OK as a desktop app, but on the tube, yuck. This is where iPhone-coverflow wins: before I used it, I thought it was eye-candy nonsense. Now it's a way of making MP3s physical. It's really, really good and really quick. (I've never used the streaming apps on anything, because iPhone is the only UK one with unlimited data).

All three genres of app, at one time or another, have left me scowling at the phone, wishing ill on somebody and sighing for someone to do it right. Now they have, so I'll readily trade esoteric functionality for solidity and elegance.

Ultimately, though, not much of this matters. Because the SDK's coming, and all of these guys will be able to offer up their stuff. Where the battleground is going to be is with the default software, on simple and smartphones alike. It was them I was really thinking of, and I could spend all day enumerating the faults with everything Nokia has ever shipped. But the wounds are still so fresh.
posted by bonaldi at 9:00 PM on January 11, 2008


We will have to agree to differ, then, on Opera. I like the mobile version with the draggy screen, and the ability to flip between desktop and mobile user agents is the best way, so far, that I've found for avoiding many ads. Opera's Mobile Java one, like the MS DeepFish, seems to involve an awful lot of zooming in and out. That mode becomes bearable on a larger screen (like Apple's or the Tosh G900, or a VGA device) but not really effective on smaller screens.

I thought Apple's SDK was going to be using signed applications. Here's hoping it's not like the old Nokia.
posted by meehawl at 9:43 PM on January 11, 2008


I have a phone. Out of the box, it can browse the internet (javascript, https, flash, etc supported), read office documents/pdfs, watch videos (including youTube/streaming video online), listen to music (including creating playlists on the go, or just plug it in to the computer and winAmp treats it as a portable music player), sync to my laptop over bluetooth or usb, receive imap email, make skype calls over the 3G network, it has a 2.0 megapixel camera that can also record videos, you can create slideshows of your photos, it does mms, has a slot for a 2GB microSD card, does voice recording, can be set to automatically read out emails/text messages, or be entirely controlled by voice, and it looks absolutely gorgeous (130 x 47 x 28 mm with a 2inch screen). With the open-source addons that I could install with a single click from my laptop (I guess a couple more if you count browsing the net to find them) it now syncs to gmail and my google calendar over the network. It doesn't have gps, but you can plug a gps receiver in and save/upload location data. It cost me $0 on a $28/month 24 month contract (includes $120 worth of calls/texts/mms, 100mb of data, plus unlimited use of the 3 network space which includes television shows, music videos, sports and news). It's a low-end nokia, the 6120. I've had it for two weeks now, and I'm still finding excuses to rave about it :)

America is like the Stone Age for phones.
posted by jacalata at 10:19 PM on January 11, 2008


@meehawl:

cool, thanks for the free demonstration of my point.

A 24" monitor is not better because it costs more. At their price points, 24" monitors are cheaper than 17" monitors over the lifetime of the monitor for equipping most knowledge workers.

Hell, for me they were cheaper (yes I have 2) when they still cost over a grand.

If a $600 iPhone gives you 3 minutes a day more life because of it's usability than a $400 phone with a bunch of extra features that are clumsy to use, only a low-q or someone who works for McDonalds money would think the iPhone was more expensive. Clearly it is much cheaper.
posted by lastobelus at 12:54 AM on January 14, 2008


America is like the Stone Age for phones.

This probably goes some way to explaining why the iPhone wasn't nearly as popular in the UK.
posted by grouse at 2:58 AM on January 14, 2008


'only a low-q or someone who works for McDonalds money someone not as awesome and rich and unable to differentiate between price and value as me would think the iPhone was more expensive.'

fixed that for people who aren't self-absorbed rich bastards
posted by jacalata at 4:37 AM on January 14, 2008


A $600 iPhone gives you 3 minutes a day more life

But you lose six minutes waiting for web pages to load over EDGE. And your soul.
posted by meehawl at 7:14 PM on January 14, 2008


Not to mention all the time you spend defending your inane decision. This is a problem that non-apple gadget freaks don't face :)
posted by Chuckles at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2008


And your soul.

Sold it to Steve for an extra mouse button.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on January 15, 2008


I was surprised no one made a MacWorld post yet this year.
posted by grouse at 1:45 PM on January 15, 2008


we hide our shame now, we've learned from the cube :)
posted by bonaldi at 2:51 PM on January 15, 2008


I was surprised no one made a MacWorld post yet this year.

I guess because all the announcements were so comprehensively leaked in the months and weeks beforehand. For all that I hear people talk about Apple's "Kremlinology", for the past few years it has been basically an open book. Despite the NDAs, Apple's suppliers talk and the advance reviewers increasingly seem to leak stuff out through several intermediate blog layers. It's now one of the easiest companies to gain advance, reasonably accurate intelligence for projects 6-12 months down the pipeline. Apple may as well post timelines, as per Intel - it's pretty much tied to Intel's release cycle anyway for chip refreshes.

I am still confused as to why the new Air slimline isn't a touchscreen/tablet thingy with those twisty rotating screen bevels to convert between laptop and tablet modes. Seems like a missed opportunity.
posted by meehawl at 4:40 PM on January 15, 2008


I thought the Time Capsule thing was neat. I usually find some neat stuff in new Apple offerings, despite having no desire to purchase an Apple product.

Anyway, looks like there was a Macworld thread after all—in MetaTalk.
posted by grouse at 4:35 AM on January 16, 2008


Re. the Air: They've always been pretty conservative about laptop design, if you think about it. They've never had the most bleeding edge feature -- they still don't have accelerometers (for drop-protection), they don't sell the very largest hard drives available, they didn't tout WiMax compatability (even though as I understand it you can upgrade the software). So in that light, it's not surprising that the Air should be a bit conservative.

I was surprised it's as inexpensive as it is.

It is missing a firewire port and it would be nice to have more than one USB port. Especially considering that the Asus EEE has, what, three? (Totally different target market, of course.) But it really does look kind of elegant.

The whole "we avoided the tradoffs" thing is annoying as hell, though. They didn't really avoid making tradeoffs -- they just made different ones. Like limiting the USB ports to one and having no IEEE-1394. Hopefully for them, the tradeoffs they made are the ones that people will be prepared to live with. I think they're probably right about that. Most people using this will probably not hard-plug a lot of stuff into it -- they'll use bluetooth headsets or speakers, wireless keyboards, just plug the thing into an external drive for backups and movies.

All in all, I think it's a nice safe design. I think we'll probably look at them for our principals in a year or two.
posted by lodurr at 12:56 PM on January 16, 2008


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