Apple iPhone: Usable…Is it?

After watching David Pogue’s review of the iPhone–it does pay to be a famous gadget reviewer because you’re always getting the latest and greatest well before it hits market–I realized that I’m just not sure how great of an innovation the iPhone is–if it at all!

Functionally speaking the phone is well beyond anything from Blackberry (RIM) or Motorola, Samsung, Siemens, etc. There’s just so much functionality that I’m not sure where to place the iPhone. I mean, it’s not really a phone at all.

It reminds me more of a PSP than a phone–or even so-called ‘smart phones’ with email, calendering, time-consuming games…Perhaps it’s being thrown in the phone bucket because of the name: but what else could Mr. Jobs call it?
iLife was already taken, iPod was already taken (which would have been a much more fitting name) …maybe get out of the ‘i’ and start calling it “My-Thing-That-Does-It-All”…? I guess that’s not as catchy; it’s infinitely more clear about where it fits in with my daily demands on and for technology.

I titled this posting ‘usability’ so let’s explore that a bit:

Let’s face it, we all make phone calls in the car when we know it’s dangerous. Some of us make phone calls while on a bike or walking or in a crammed bus/subway with our hands full of groceries…how can you do that if you have to use two hands? I make plenty of phone calls and tap out tons of text messages & emails with one hand. I just don’t see that happening with the iPhone. At all. Ever. (I suppose my nose might be able to pull off a few of the interface requirements…like double tapping.)
Is the interface going to be intuitive?

I say, “No way in hell.”

If you’ve ever lent a friend your blackberry–or hell, any cell phone–for a quick call you know that unless the person has previous experience using a blackberry, there’s little chance in them figuring out how to get to the address book, let alone answer/make a call.

Apple's highly anticipated iPhone

Two fingers pulled apart do this, pulled together do this, double-tap for this, slide the finger to do this, stomp on it in frustration to finally access the website you’ve been trying at on AT&T’s network for the last 10 min.

So much invested in making the thing look flashy, that no time was spent asking, “Will this work in the real world?”

From personal experience, it’s very typical for people (in my circle) to give Apple props for making the iPod so userfriendly. I personally find navigating the iPod to be extremely cumbersome. So why the success? Why do I want an iPod (and an iPhone)? Partly because it’s a bit different and looks cool but mostly because socially I feel obligated to want one: I want to be cool, don’t I?
Anyone who says that’s a lame reason is kidding them self. It’s almost become socially expected to have an iPod. What’s a person suppose to do to fit in? Buy an iPod. Look at the sales figures for the last few years and tell me I’m crazy.
Is that where we’re going with the iPhone?

Apple is an awesome brand so far as business defines a brand but let’s not forget that it is just a brand and that the iPhone is just an investment opportunity.

Someone please help me make up my mind on Apple, iPods, and now the iPhone!

By the way, any designers out there who have specific suggestions that would kill the iPhone/iPod? Stuff that would make everyone at Apple say, “Duh!”

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