[Updated: Jan 10, 2007 @ 4.00 pm Breaking News - Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademark]
Apple's new iPhone is undoubtedly an amazing piece of technology - cramming Mac OS X into a device measuring 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches is pretty neat - but I believe I can see a potentially serious flaw with the design.
The more I look at the iPhone, the more I think that there's serious flaw, or at least a major weakness with the design. Let me remind you what the iPhone looks like. Maybe you'll spot what I'm getting at:
If you're going to grab an iPhone, make sure it's covered by a comprehensive insurance policy that will cover accidental damageOK, now imagine that you own an iPhone. Imagine using it regularly. How the heck are you going to protect that touch screen? That's a big area to protect. At best, screens like this are vulnerable to being cracked by bending or flexing, and being a touch screen it has an added dislike of being poked or scraped by sharps (the surface of the touch screen is glass). Apple is a company that's led by design, and history shows us that this hasn't always meant creating a product robust enough to put up with regular usage (think back to the early 1st gen iPod nanos and the problems users had with those). I don't know about you but pretty much every cell phone I've seen that's been in use for a few months has some battle scars. Despite living in a leather Vega Holster belt pouch, my RAZR is far from pristine. I'd be interested to see what kind of real-world testing Apple's done on early iPhones. If the 1st gen nanos are anything to go by, it won't see much rough treatment until users get their hands on it. People might take care of their iPods but phones generally get a harder life. I hope that Apple's factored this into the iPhone equation.
The 2-year contract that Cingular will bind early adopters to is going to be a problem. It's likely that Apple will release an updated 2nd gen iPhone 12 months or so down the line that will address any issues with the 1st gen model - but if you're one of those lucky early adopters you'll be stuck for another 12 months with your flawed 1st gen iPhone.
The problem isn't so much the phone - everything has bugs, new gadgets doubly so - it's the overly long contract that Cingular will impose on users. I'm gonna say something that I don't normally say - If you're going to grab an iPhone, make sure it's covered by a comprehensive insurance policy that will cover accidental damage. I think you might be needing it before your 24 months are up.
There are some other issues that I can foresee. Small things like the fact that typing on a flat glass surface isn't easy since there's no kinesthetic feedback. Heavy users, such as those addicted to their Blackberry devices, might want to stick with a "real" keyboard, no matter how small it is.
Still, the iPhone is a long way off ... plenty of time for things to improve.