Upwardly Mobile: Why I won't buy an iPhone

Get those wild horses ready - it's not going to happen
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

Get those wild horses ready - it's not going to happen

Apple may think all iPod users are dying to buy an iPhone - but not Jo Best. Here she explains what she really, really wants from a mobile - and why she doesn't think the Mac maker can deliver it.

Like anyone with a thing for gadgets and gossip, I've been following the various twists and turns in the rumoured Apple iPhone saga with excitement. A mobile phone from the makers of the sexy iPod? How could I not? Patents this, domain registrations that - I've read it all.

But there's no way on earth I'll be raiding my piggybank for one when it eventually comes out - and it will come out, despite the lack of confirmation from Cupertino.

Before any of the Apple loyal start hitting their 'flame reporter' key, I'll tell you why. Just think about what Apple does really well and what it does really, really badly.

Like a lot of people, I own an iPod - and it's a pretty foxy beast - but like a lot of people, my iPod has been back to the shop more times than I care to think about. Hardware durability isn't the strong point of Apple's music devices and I worry the same could be true of the iPhone. I can live without my iPod for a few days while it gets fixed - I can't do the same with my phone.

And what of battery life? My iPod needs charging every day to play music for an hour or two. Heaven forbid the same would happen to my mobile. My iPod - admittedly a couple years old - needs more care and attention to get it through the day than should be necessary. Phones need to just work. Will the iPhone be able to deliver that?

Then there's the DRM, or digital rights management for those that aren't up on that acronym. Apple's DRM is, well, awful. I've spent hours of my life convincing iTunes I should be allowed to play songs I either ripped from lawfully bought CDs or purchased from Apple itself on my laptop or my iPod.

All about the iPhone

♦ Minority Report: The death of the iPod (part 1)
The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
♦ Minority Report: Can the iPhone save the iPod? (part 2)
The best thing for the MP3 player might be to morph into a mobile phone

Now imagine this attitude toward content protection (Is Apple protecting me from myself? I wish it wouldn't) applied to all the other content on my phone. I'd rather not.

Rumour has it there will be two variants of the iPhone - a straightforward mobile and a smart phone. That smart phone could store music and videos as well as contact info and Excel, Word and PDF files. I know Apple isn't stupid and probably won't put copy protection on my PIM-type content but I do not trust them in this area and would inspect closely their DRM policy on the iPhone before considering a purchase.

Ready to flame me yet? Well, let's take a look at what Apple does really well. Software for one. iTunes is a great advert for Apple's ability to make software and hardware intuitive and easy to use. I'm a big fan of its Spotlight search technology - it's delightfully painless, as tech should be. If a phone could bring me up a text message or contact I was looking for in the same way iTunes helps me find a song, I'd be a happy bunny indeed.

The company's great with media management too - I have a sneaking suspicion Motorola, Nokia et al would be wise to learn from OS X's approach to managing video, photos and suchlike. And let's not forget the design - an iPhone is going to be a beautiful thing. Nokia, Samsung, RIM and many other handset makers may do functionality, but looks? Nah. Some of their phones should have bags on their metaphorical heads.

I suspect Apple's big idea is to sell the iPhone as a single device for phone and music functionality. But I've got an iPod and a mobile and it hasn't bothered me yet, despite the plethora of phones with built-in music players flooding the market. So still, no iPhone for me.

I'd also like to state for the record that if Microsoft created a Phune (a phone and a Zune in one, geddit?), I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole either but that's a different story.

So let me tell you what I would like. Nokia, come over here. Apple, you stand next to Nokia. Now shake hands. (Can you see where I'm going with this?)

I want a Nokia which runs a mobile version of OS X. I'd really like Nokia to make the iPhone - an N Series for the kids, if you will, an E series for the suits. Nokia's durability and battery life, Apple's intuitive software. It's a marriage made in heaven. And maybe, after the post coital cigarette, RIM could get involved too. Hey, it's just an idea.

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