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Chiming in on the iPhone vs. Treo vs. Symbian vs. RIM vs. ...

Food fight! As if it could have turned into anything else instantly, the fanboy hordes are storming the castle gates at enthusiast sites around the web with prognostications and opinions based more on emotion than anything resembling facts that Apple's just-announced iPhone is (take your pick):
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Written by Marc Orchant on
Food fight! As if it could have turned into anything else instantly, the fanboy hordes are storming the castle gates at enthusiast sites around the web with prognostications and opinions based more on emotion than anything resembling facts that Apple's just-announced iPhone is (take your pick):
  • A category killer.
  • The greatest thing since the wheel, sliced bread, or moveable type (the Gutenberg thing not the blog engine).
  • A joke.
  • Vapor – nothing more than his royal Steve-ness turning up the RDF to maximum to market test a conceptual prototype.
  • A Treo killer.
  • A Blackberry killer.
  • A Moto Q, Blackjack, HTC (take your pick) killer.
  • A media player wolf in phone's sheep clothing.
  • The redefinition of the PDA.
  • The cause for the dumbest, most embarrassing lawsuit Apple has ever faced (from Cisco no less - hardly a lightweight blogger Apple can intimidate).
  • Cause for Nokia, Samsung, LG, and Motorola to commit seppuku.
  • Nothing for Nokia, Samsung, LG, and Motorola to worry about.
  • A business phone.
  • A consumer phone.
  • The one phone to rule them all.
  • A niche product that only Apple crazies will buy.
  • An extendable platform.
  • Another closed Apple platform.
  • A huge winner for Apple.
  • A huge misstep for Apple.

On and on it goes ad infnitum, ad nauseum.

It's a product announcement folks... about a product that won't ship for nearly six months . A product that no one outside the fortress is Cupertino has apparently even seen or held except in the center of the RDF-powered MacWorld keynote.* Watching the Steve do his thing the other day evoked an image of Edward Norton in the recent movie The Illusionist. No judgment implied before you start twitching to tell me what an idiot I obviously must be. What I mean by that analogy was that in the movie, most of the people in the audience weren't sure whether what they saw was illusion or reality. On the fringes on either side were those resolutely predisposed to believe what they saw must be one or the either. They knew it before they entered the theater and the experience of the performance only cemented that predisposition.

Bottom line: the iPhone is everything we'd expect from Apple at their current zenith of design coolness. It's striking, elegant, unusual, groundbreaking, and a redefinition of the form factor and user experience. It's also the cause for legitimate concern about usability, longevity, practicality, expandability, utility, and many other words ending in the letters "ty".

I look forward to actually seeing and using an iPhone. Budget permitting (and assuming it will work with a non-Cingular SIM card at some point in the future since the last thing I need or want is another telco contract), I surely would not mind having one. But the jury is still out and a verdict can't be rendered until at least the middle of the year when the device is actually available.

So please – everyone – discuss it amongst yourselves as you like but please don't accept the illusion as reality in the absence of proof.

*Update: It turns out the folks from Gizmodo and the Wall St. Journal's Walt Mossberg have actually had a hands-on iPhone experience so I've updated this accordingly. They both had very positive things to say which surprises me not at all.  I fully expect that this will be a device that will inspire serious gadget lust and envy and it's clear it will provide a very desirable combination of capabilities in a single, very sexy package.

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