Why I'm buying an iPhone

By consolidating phone, contacts, email, music, podcasts, video, and the Web in a single device, the iPhone promises to be the world's most powerful attention management machine.
Written by Denise Howell, Inactive

As if anyone needed to list more reasons to buy an iPhone. But I haven't seen anyone (save Steve Gillmor) write about most of the reasons I'll be buying this device, so here they are.

By consolidating phone, contacts, email, music, podcasts, video, and Web in a single device, the iPhone promises to be the world's most powerful (and portable; same thing) attention management machine.

150-odd channels, always something on. As of today I'm subscribed to 152 podcasts. I don't listen to/watch them all regularly. Rather, they serve as bookmarks to a universe of good material I can call up at a moment's notice to suit the prevailing time allotment and mood. Five minutes to get home from the gas station? Send in the Mighty Mommy. Longish drive? Long live TWiT. Leisurely drive? Escape Pod take me away. Manicure, pedicure, and neck massage? (My fave.) Diggnation, or Cranky Geeks, or...Lest we forget! There's also always an episode of The Office or 30 Rock to catch up on. And none of this has to stream; it's all there, on the hard flash drive, thanks to iTunes syncing. Also thanks to syncing, the computer and Apple TV at home know what's been listened to or watched, and kindly put it away and queue up something new.

Toddler control. YouTube on demand. For emergencies only, but in those most dire of circumstances, what a lifesaver. iTunes movies too, and the iPhone's viewing screen is just a little smaller than most portable DVD players.

Merging Gmail and phone. Gmail + auto-checking the account (every 15 minutes is virtually indistinguishable from push, and you just know they'll have push before year-end) + iPhone's keypad means I'll never need or want a Blackberry. Ever. Gmail + integrated dialing means I'll call 411 96% less than at present.

Wandering Web. When I take my laptop with me on a trip, 9 times out of 10 it's so I can have Web access on the road. Everything I need lives on the Web. Frequently these days I'm leaving the laptop at home (and relying on borrowing someone else's Web access when needed), but of course always bringing my cell and iPod because (1) they're vital, and (2) they're portable. Putting it all in one very appealing form factor will make me one happy traveler (not to mention a somewhat less pesty guest).

As someone already under AT&T's thumb, the single carrier thing doesn't bother me. Service is just as good/bad as any other carrier I've used. I wish the Web were faster, but it will be, particularly with millions of iPhone users demanding it. And it looks as though the iPhone rate plans will be more inclusive and cheaper than the one I'm on.

In case you were wondering whether there are legal ramifications to all this, there are. iTunes mainstreamed legal music downloads and marginalized illegal file sharing. For the vast majority of people who want things easy, fast, functional, legal, and reasonably priced, it's already doing the same for movie and television downloads. The iPhone is poised to hockey-stick this trend, as it pairs a device truly designed for video — as opposed to a successful music player with video a late addition on a tiny screen — with iTunes for the first time, and extends Apple's reach into the Windows/PC user universe.

[Update, 4:25 p.m.] Tom Foremski's point about the significance of the iPhone's WiFi capabilities is an excellent one. I also think the applications development around the iPhone is going to be um, active. If not unprecedented. Check out everything that is just waiting to complement the still more than 24-hours from available device at Mod My iPhone (via net@night), and also Dan Farber's post about iPhone CRM (Dan's concept of the iPhone as "post-PC," riffing on Steve Gillmor, is one that resonates strongly with me). Also, given my excitement about the iPhone's YouTube integration, coupled with my sense that the iPhone will handle media best (at least at first) when it's able to store, not stream, I'll be eager to give Clippz a try too. Per its recent press release, Clippz now "now offers its entire MySpace, Metacafe and YouTube collections encoded in Apple iPhone's H.264 file format." (And for anyone who, like me, might have been until now jargon-challenged as to "sideload," Wikipedia rides to the rescue.)

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