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back to article Why the iPhone is a success

Two weeks after the iPhone virus started spreading, the verdict has to be that Steve Jobs has got it right. The trick with launching a new phone is "keep it simple". He's done that. No, this is not the phone I want, and neither is it the right MP3 player, but it will be a success, and that success will grow as new variants …

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Anonymous Coward

On which planet???

"When the battery indicates less than half full, people start to turn the thing off to save power."

I dont know anybody that turns thier mobile phone off when it gets to half power. mobile phones come with this funny new invention called a battary charger, and even better they have worked out how to let you use your mobile phone WHILE it is charging......go figure.

Mine gets turned off when I dont want it on or if the battary dies. And there are plenty of mobile charging options, power points on trains mobile recharge packs and some mobile phone shops even have charge stations.

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Too early to say

I'm not sure how someone can come out and say the iPhone is a success based on the limited time it has been available in retail channels.

The iPhone will certainly be successful and profitable for Apple, if nothing else simply because of the mindshare they already have in the market. Also, like most of Apples products, it is a piece of objet d'art - a lot of people will buy it simply because it looks good.

As a phone it isn't particularly revolutionary - it lacks 3G, stereo Bluetooth, no syncing over WiFi, no Exchange support, no third-party software support, no Word/Excel file handling, not to mention the phone itself locks users into a single carrier who can charge whatever they like safe in the knowledge consumers have no other choice. If MS pulled a similar stunt there would be all sorts of anti-trust issues being raised, but as Apple is still the darling of the consumer World all of this seems to be overlooked.

The biggest issue I have personally is that - functionally speaking - it is a step back from what already exists on Windows Mobile phones and Blackberrys. Paying $600 (anticipated UK RRP £300+) for a "smartphone" which lacks features that business users now take for granted isn't something to be scoffed at.

Make no mistake - on release this phone will sell like hot cakes over here, but the sales figures may not be impressive enough to fool reporters into proclaiming that it's a huge success a few months or a year down the line.

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Contracts

But with a two year contract, how many people who rushed out and bought Mk1 will rush out for Mk2 in that time? Unless the Mk2 can really grab an expanded market that has so far not been inspired, it's going to be targeting at a self-reducing demographic.

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Anonymous Coward

Hippie trombone

I love non-sequiturs, and this article is full of them. It is a disjointed article that hurts me. There is an intriguing mention of the fact that people make fewer calls when their battery is running out, but this is not followed through; I was expecting the author to say that the iPhone does not have a battery indicator, but no. The talk of altering the iPod's scrollwheel fizzles out into nothingness, and ultimately I am left wondering how the article's few points support its assertion. Surely the iPhone has become a success because it is a good-looking gadget that inflates the owner's self-esteem. The phone's technical capabilities - with the great exception of the impressive interface - seem much less likely to sway buyers than its looks.

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Silver badge

ha!

The thing apple has suceeded at better than any other modern company is in getting a large number of uncritical evangelists routing for them. That these people are generally among the richer part of the population helps too.

Yes, there's a (possibly reasonable) "anyone but microsoft" view - but the momentum that has gained with Macs is just running on inertia. Ipods, Iphones, yes very pretty as ornaments for the superficial "look at what I've got"/fashion statement types, but no better or worse at actually GETTING STUFF DONE.

Given the amount of money Apple spend on promoting their products, this offering will not be allowed to be called a failure - no matter how many units they wanted to shift compared to the actual uptake (and remember, it's only available in a small fraction of the world so far). I reckon the marketing department will use the old fallback of "whatever we hit - we'll call that the target".

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Anonymous Coward

Advertising to Sheep

The greatest success of the Apple iPhone is the fact they make a smart looking product then tell the world how amazing it is months before the release. And keep hyping it until and after launch.

Tell people they want it, tell people everyone else has it, and the sheep flock out to buy it. Just like designer clothes.

That said, it might actually be a very good piece of kit. Time will tell.

Slightly confused by the writer's view that Apple have invented something here. Nope, just put various old ideas into a new product. Again, they have probably done a good job, but still nothing new.

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Anonymous Coward

agree most with the above

i have to (mostly) agree with the above... that article read like ramblings of someone having a swig of whiskey in between paragraphs.

as for the iphone - well i believe technically it's superior to any other phone out there in terms of potential with a big advantage. The OS is v.1 with no baggage and has a starting v.1 hardware set of impressive processing power and 512mb ram, not to mention storage capacity to burn. Compared with Windows Mobile or Symbian or PalmOS which have years of needing to work on shitty ~100MHz CPUs and 32MB RAM, that's a huge advantage.

I also believe the UI is superior to any phone out there - and most people seem to agree. That of course is very largely a matter so just my $0.02.

With respect to the *current* implementation of things like Mail and lack of IM, etc... yeah there's plenty to not like. Particularly for business customers. Hmm, I wonder if that's why it's pitched as a consumer product at the moment.... :)

Lastly, most people seem to think along the lines of "oh but smartphone type devices are mostly for business customers" - well yes, just like the PS3 and the XBOX360 are for the real hardcore gamers; then the Nintendo Wii or DS comes along and suddenly an army of casual gamers, parents, little kiddies, etc come out of the woodwork who would never have purchased a game console.

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no...

This is another "innovation" that I will not be getting.

I have an mp3 player, and I have a mobile phone, why would I want another of both?!

Sometimes, like when I go to London, I don't want to take my mobile as if it were to get stolen, that would be a very bad thing.

Or if I go cycling, I don't take my mp3 player as it is a bit on the heavy side but I take my phone in case of emergency while I am in the middle of a field.

Having both in one device is asking for trouble.

That and I despise the whole "i" naming scheme.....it just annoys the crap outta me!

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Re: Too early to say

I'm afraid you've missed the point of the article.

It wasn't saying that the iPhone is a success in a traditional commercial sense, rather that it was successful in introducing a "new" iPod interface without alienating the apple faithful.

The article is saying that the Mk1 iPhone was never designed to be the finished article, suitable for all global markets. It was designed to be a step towards that finished article, while allowing them to get all the little things right and get the new interface accepted.

Whether this point of view is correct is hard to say, but if that was the intention you have to agree it has been a resounding success.

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the novelty wears off

i think in the next few weeks the novelty of the only new thing in the iphone, the horiz-vertical sensor, will be finished.

there is nothing new here.. move on pleeeease

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Anonymous Coward

I said it before, it's all about the interface

http://www.tuaw.com/2007/02/09/found-footage-iphone-vs-windows-mobile/

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Anonymous Coward

Apple doesn't give a rat's arse about business

Jesus, when are people going to get it through their thick skulls - this is not a smartphone aimed at business users... it is a smartphone for the rest of us. Apple can't give a flying fuck that it won't work for business users or with Exchange because the only people that this is important to are not the people they have aimed the product at. This is a phone that makes using "power" options as easy as possible for people who haven't got a scooby how to do it on their current ***non-smartphone*** mobile (largely because the UI for doing so is utterly abysmal and/or the carrier has turned their phone into crippleware by having restrictive limitations on the software or excessively priced data plans).

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RE: no...

"Sometimes, like when I go to London, I don't want to take my mobile as if it were to get stolen, that would be a very bad thing."

I really hate having to say so, being mostly from the grim northern wastelands, but London isn't all *that* bad. I've spent plenty of time in the smoke and no one ever attempted to boost my phone. Mind you, I've never been pickpocketed in Barcelona either, so maybe it's just me...

"Or if I go cycling, I don't take my mp3 player as it is a bit on the heavy side"

OK, maybe it's you.

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A rare Apple mistake

A trivial thing which will no doubt get fixed later on in firmware updates, but the iPhone does not support changing ringtones or alert sounds (new messages, etc) to *anything* other than what is already on the phone. No MP3 ringtones, no cheesy message alert sounds.

It also doesn't support MMS, so no sending of those drunken party pics to your friends.

Bearing the above in mind the big confusion I have over the iPhone is what it actually is supposed to be. If its simply a iPod Video with a bigger screen, then its 4/8GB of memory is too small to be worthwhile, if it's supposed to be a "one device fits all" smartphone why does it exclude third-party apps and have very limited integration with established software. If it's "just a phone that plays media" then who can justify spending $600/£300 on it? - surely you could just buy a PSP (which can be homebrewed) and use its WiFi connection to watch Youtube videos.

I had assumed when I originally heard about Apple entering the mobile market that they would set the World alight and push the barriers like they have with other products. Functionally I simply can't see how the iPhone competes with Windows Mobile (consumer/business) and Blackberry (business).

So how is it revolutionary? What have Apple brought to the table other than their trademark crisp UI enhancements?

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Anonymous Coward

People are negative just to be cool

1) 3G. This is the US. Except for Verizon, no one here has decent 3G coverage anywhere, so that's a non issue. Yes, for the European release, they should add 3G. Europe/UK always have better phones than us. Nokia makes smart phones? We only get their cheap phones. Just try to find a 9300i in a store here.

2) Non swappable battery. I've owned countless cell phones, never needed to purchase a battery before.

3) Lock in to a single supplier. Again, maybe it's different in non-US countries, but here it has always been about hardware lock in. You shop for the phone you want, find the one carrier that has it exclusively and sign a 2 year contract with them. Luckily the US gov. is starting to frown on this behavior, but it's not like Apple invented it. To get my Samsung SGH-i500 I had to ditch Verizon for Sprint, and as a carrier, Sprint sucks and I liked Verizon, but I go where the hardware is.

4) Nothing new to see here. Really? Grandpa Simpson argued the fax machine (with thermal paper) was nothing more than a waffle iron with a phone attached. If you agree with that, I guess you're right. There's nothing new about the iPhone, and there will probably never be nothing new in your lifetime. How's that Atari 2600 compare to the XBOX 360? Pretty much the same thing eh?

5) Price. My last to PDA phones, the SGH-i500 and the Treo 650 were just out when I got them, and exclusive to a single carrier here in the states. I had to sign a two year contract to get them, and even with Sprint subsidizing them, I paid nearly the cost of the cheaper iPhone (maybe $100~$150 less) and that's with 0.023GB of memory compared to 4GB, so add another $70 for my 2GB memory card (yeah they are $15 now, but not back then.) And the data plans are close (within $20 per month) of what I currently pay for unlimited data, 800 minutes, and 0 text messages.

Don't get me wrong. The iPhone _is_ over hyped. I won't be getting a first gen one, we'll see what the others are like. My biggest complaint is I can't install telnet, ssh, or VNC apps on it like I have on my Palm based phone. But some of these other complaints seem so lame I couldn't resist writing.

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Anonymous Coward

Since I'm the only one

Who actually is using the iPhone in place of my crappy Blackberry 8700 I am the only expert to post a reply here.

I had been a Blackberry user for 6 years. With each new SW release the volume on the each BB phone got softer. I blame you Europeans for that. You're ears must be more "civilized" (sorry, American English there is a "z") than us Yanks or is it because of the nanny state stepping in to limit if I can hear someone talking to me? I'm extremely satisfied now that I can actually talk on my phone hear what the person on the other end is saying. When I'm listening to music the trade-off to an incoming phone call is awesome.

The iPod portion is superior to any iPod ever. Since Apple owns 80% of the MP3 player market I'd say that is success upon success or do one of you MS "lovers" who've never touched a Mac or an iPod want to argue that the Zune will crush the iPod or that Apple is going out of business tomorrow?

Email is its weakest link right now. You can read it but no advanced text editing. No copy and past or select all or select anything. The auto-fill word correction blows the BB out of the water but it can be frustrating trying to go back and edit an email. So, I keep them short. SMS is great. Yahoo mobile messaging is cool. I'm waiting for Activesync support so I can be connected with my work but I really don't miss emails informing me how dumb some of my co-workers are all day long. I suspect the next drop of OS X will correct some of these issues.

In the meantime, I get curious questions and am semi-famous when I answer a call in a public place. Sales estimates put new AT&T account activations at over 1 Million in less than 2 weeks. Anyone want to guess how long it has taken to sell 1 million Zunes? 8 months!

News for you folks across the pond: The world is not flat. Take a chance and buy a Mac and you'll realize that that 19" black & white TV is passé and those of us who know the difference between elegance and brute force always prefer an elegant solution. Sorry but rarely do Mac users swear at our box. We swear by them.

Now that the "fanboy" SPAM begin!

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Newton v2.0

It's a well-thought tablet with a bunch of features. It's aimed at people who want a tablet but who want a nice interface on it. Newton was both of these things in its day, however with pretty bad handwriting recognition. Palm introduced Graffiti and took the market.

Then, guess who took the market from Palm and Psion/Symbian? That's right, Microsoft with their Windows CE / Pocket PC. They proved people wanted an OS that's at least nominally similar to their desktop OS.

So what's Apple to do to get back in this market? It can't be just a PDA, because the iPod has been such a success. That's bound to get bundled in. Any tablet needs decent networking support, and everything seems to be headed toward cellular, roaming wifi, wimax, etc. An add-on modem or bluetooth/wifi card isn't going to cut it any longer. Once you've got a pocket-sized tablet that's on the phone network, why not make it take and place calls? That's why it's a phone.

The point really is, I think, to get positioned as the killer small tablet/PDA. They wouldn't dare call it a Newton, because the name has a sense of failure attached to it. Steve Jobs personally and Apple as a corporation hate being reminded of missed or dropped opportunities. This thing, though, with its killer processor and memory for its size, its stripped-down OS X, and the wonderful mostly-screen form factor, is positioned not as a Razr killer, or even as a Sidekick/Blackberry killer. It's positioned as the bright Apple champion over Pocket PC, Classmate, and the clear price/performance winner over UMPC.

Now, if it comes down about 75% in price in the next handful of years, can you see One iPhone Per Child? Look at the specs, and look at the XO (http://www.laptop.org/en/laptop/hardware/specs.shtml). If Apple adds wimax or similar to its network capabilities, takes minimal profits on a streamlined production line after a couple years of refinement, and markets it at the right angle, then you might see the most popular computing platform on the planet badged with a bitten apple.

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Re: Since I'm the only one

You talk down to us as if we're MS fanboys, and therefore our opinions hold no water - when the reality is no one has actually brought MS into the discussion. The Zune hasn't even been mentioned, I'm not even sure how it's relevant in a discussion regarding the iPhone.

Windows Mobile, for its faults, does the job of being a smartphone OS pretty well. So does Symbian. Neither of these OS stifle third-party application development, force customers into locked carrier agreements (at least in the EU - which is all that is relevant to me). In limiting what the iPhone can do Apple seem to want to dictate to the market what *they* think we need.

Telling us that third-party apps (of which there are many - games, apps, etc) are not necessarily is a pretty risky strategy, even when you have the sort of religion-like following that Apple have.

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Some of these comments...

> The thing apple has suceeded at better than any other modern company is in

> getting a large number of uncritical evangelists routing for them. That these

> people are generally among the richer part of the population helps too.

The thing Apple has succeeded at better than any other modern company is creating products that you don't understand the advantages of. That might be because you're stupid, but is much more likely to be because your mind doesn't work quite the same as the people's who do understand it. Just like radon gas or death, just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

> Yes, there's a (possibly reasonable) "anyone but microsoft" view - but the

> momentum that has gained with Macs is just running on inertia. Ipods,

> Iphones, yes very pretty as ornaments for the superficial "look at what I've

> got"/fashion statement types, but no better or worse at actually GETTING

>STUFF DONE.

See, and there's where you're clearly wrong. Just absolutely clearly wrong. If thousands of people had MP3 players that they never used, which is the very clear result of the market research that The Reg reported on back in the day, and then along came the iPod and everyone bought one and they actually use it, then clearly the product is DRAMATICALLY better at 'getting stuff done', if in this case 'getting stuff done' means 'listening to music'.

There are a lot of people who don't understand that the interface matters. You appear to be one of those. People like that have two choices: they either assume that there is something there that they're blind to, or they assume that everyone else is stupid. You have chosen the latter.

> Given the amount of money Apple spend on promoting their products, this

> offering will not be allowed to be called a failure - no matter how many units

> they wanted to shift compared to the actual uptake (and remember, it's only

> available in a small fraction of the world so far). I reckon the marketing

> department will use the old fallback of "whatever we hit - we'll call that the

> target".

Apple set an amazingly ambitious goal, and made it very clear when they announced the product what that goal was: ten million phones in the first year, one percent of the cell phone market. At the time everyone laughed, because they said it was wildly unrealistic. (Here, for example, is a Reg article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/02/apple_iphones/ ) And I was with them; I figured they were being, shall we say, 'optimistic'.

If it really is true that they've sold a million of them in the first two weeks, which I find hard to believe but which is what scuttlebutt says, then I would like to revise my opinion a bit.

-fred

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JJ

The way I see it...

...is that if the iPhone interface is the replacement for the old iPod one, they've made a huge mistake.

As far as I can tell there's no easy way to use the iPhone UI without looking at it (no tactile feedback), and in many ways it's a two-handed UI as well, in that you can't really drive it with the thumb of the hand that's holding the phone.

Both of these are major downsides compared to the 'traditional' phone and iPod/mp3 player UI's.

OK, the new design might look flashy, and technically it's quite impressive, but it's answering a question no-one is really asking. I wouldn't claim that existing implementations of the phone/mp3 player interfaces are perfect, but at least I can drive the things without having to look at them, and without having to think much about it as muscle memory and touch are more than adequate for using the most common functions blind.

Oh, and Fred Fnord, keep drinking the Kool-Aid, I'm sure it keeps the acolytes at The Church of Steve, Inc. happy. Quite why people who buy Apple stuff can't just see it as just another product like any other I don't know, maybe there's an additive in that shiny plastic?

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I fail to see the excitement

It's a crappy phone with less features than I have on my 2 year old pdaphone. Where's the 'innovation'? My phone has been an 'iPod' with MORE features than Apple's latest iTrash will ever have.

I like the graphics on the iLame though..too bad it's the only thing going for it.

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Anonymous Coward

New Shorter Oxford Dictionary (CDROM edition)

success /s<schwa>k"sEs/ n.M16. [L successus, f. success- pa. ppl stem of succedere SUCCEED.]

1 Succession; an instance of this. M16–L17.

2 a The outcome or upshot of an event, affair, etc.; a result. M16–M18.

b An event. rare. L16.

c The result of an experiment; the effect of a medicine. E17–M18.

3 A person’s fortune in a particular situation; good or bad luck. Freq. w. specifying wd. arch. M16.

4 a The achievement of an endeavour; the attainment of a desired end; prosperity. Also, an instance of this; a successful undertaking or achievement. L16.b A successful person or occasion. L19.

3 good success, ill success, etc.

4a I. WALLACE Peace was probable and..the President had achieved a real success.attrib.:

C. PRIEST The clinic claimed a success rate of 100 per cent.

b J. CARTWRIGHT Magda’s brother..was..a success with women.P. P. READ The late hour..suggested that her party had been a success.

5 SPENSER All the sonnes of these fine brethren raynd By dew successe.

------------------------------------------------

From which it is clear that some adjectival qualification is normally entailed. Italians for example are aware that "succedere" does not mean "to succeed" (for which "riuscire" is used) but "to happen" - compare Spenser(5).

Draw your own conclusions.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

Mr Coleman...

"I'm not sure how someone can come out and say the iPhone is a success based on the limited time it has been available in retail channels."

Let's do the math shall we? From a recent press release: "Motorola reported their 2nd quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street's predictions. Moto Q sales eclipsed 150,000 units during the first 30 days it was on sale."

So Moto think that 150k units in 30 days is good? Current estimates for the opening weekend range from 250,000 to 700,000 units. Which I think for a company for their FIRST attempt at a phone is a rather good start.

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Just another fanboy - nothing to read here

To put some of the strange ideas people have in context:

1. iPhone has sold as many in 2 weeks through 1 carrier as Blackberry sells in 2-3 months through 300 carriers

2. ergo iPhone is also outselling Windows Mobile phones 2 to 1, despite the fact that it isn't available in Europe, Asia, Canada or South America

3. OTOH 90% of smartphones are Symbian or Linux based; iPhone is not outselling them, but must already be very close within the USA

4. it is its own thing, like it or not, and is not a "new entrant in the smartphone category", or for that matter "the new iPod that happens to be a phone too"

5. It does open Word, Excel and PDF files already

6. Apple will be upgrading the software free and automatically for at least 2 years from purchase

7. Just with Web 2.0 apps, you can already browse view or stream content on your broadband connected home or office computer, or use VNC to remotely control your Windows desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Fanman

Those who wish to trash the iPhone ought to use for a while. As with the iPod, the iPhone doesn't do anything other cell phones haven't done before, but it does what it does with a completely new interface and usability that no other phones can match. You Apple haters have to admit Apple pays attention to detail, nuance, and design. A Ferrari doesn't do anything a 30 year-old Ford Pinto doesn't do, but how many of you would prefer the Pinto over the Ferrari? Few, if any, I'm sure.

The iPhone isn't meant for everyone, and if you don't want one, don't buy it. But don't pollute others with your uninformed opinions either.

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Bronze badge

As It Gets More Like Slashdot Here Every Day Anyway...

"Jesus, when are people going to get it through their thick skulls - this is not a smartphone aimed at business users... it is a smartphone for the rest of us. Apple can't give a flying fuck that it won't work for business users or with Exchange because the only people that this is important to are not the people they have aimed the product at. This is a phone that makes using "power" options as easy as possible for people who haven't got a scooby how to do it on their current ***non-smartphone*** mobile (largely because the UI for doing so is utterly abysmal and/or the carrier has turned their phone into crippleware by having restrictive limitations on the software or excessively priced data plans)."

Mod up.

I find it genuinely, cosmically, depressing that El Reg doesn't get the iPhone.

A vulture chasing its own tail is so pitiful to watch.

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Above posted VS windows mobile

I dont know what the above posted said about the 100mhz cpu, but MOST windows mobile devices run at 400mhz, minimum is 200, and I'm seen some 600's (overclocked my OLD dell axim from 600 to 733!!)

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Weather's great for flying

"I find it genuinely, cosmically, depressing that El Reg doesn't get the iPhone. A vulture chasing its own tail is so pitiful to watch."

Maybe they should fly over to America and scoop one up.

Neil Anderson

http://www.cyclelogicpress.com

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RE: Since I'm the only one

"I'm waiting for Activesync support so I can be connected with my work but I really don't miss emails informing me how dumb some of my co-workers are all day long. I suspect the next drop of OS X will correct some of these issues."

I'm afraid the next drop of OSX will not yet be capable of terminating your fellow employees.

Apparently there is an alternate handset which does just the trick...

http://www.parkoz.com/zboard/view.php?id=images2&no=37634

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Skype on the iPhone

Tom Keating of TMC Labs has come up with a complicated remote-control work-around to achieve something every computer geek wished for: the ability to run Skype on an iPhone.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,134397-pg,1/article.html

Sounds like business apps are on their way too.

Neil Anderson

http://www.cyclelogicpress.com

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Mat

lanyard attached

The one thing that keeps getting repeated here in these comments by those that want to de-evangelise the iPhone is the rush to skip quickly past the new UI and proclaim nothing else new etc etc

Which is a bit like being given a nice SE W960 phone and just reviewing the lanyard. The iPhone is about the interface, it can't be dismissed if you wish to make objective comment.

(ps that guy above who doesn't take his mp3 player out on his bike because it's "too heavy" really needs to get an iPod shuffle)

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iStuff

"I despise the whole "i" naming scheme.....it just annoys the crap outta me!"

I know just what he means. What does the 'i' stand for anyway? But of course... idiot.

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Anonymous Coward

iPhod

I think the thrust of this article is correct.

The next iPods will be larger screened and have the 'pinch and stroke' abilities of the iPhone. Apple have long ago submitted patents for an on-screen wheel which will maintain the ease of use of the current scrollwheel whilst making it a software addition. Why, we may even get the ability to switch positions to suit left or right handedness.

The iPhone is trailing many of the new iPod features, widescreen (good for movies and coverflow) glass scratch resistant screen, good battery life and ... above all, for both devices and to the chagrin of other manufacturers ... the software updating of features.

Having said all that, it's good to see the trolls and shills are keeping their pencils blunt as they scribble furiously away with their Apple-hating nonsense.

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RE: I fail to see the excitement

It's "fewer features", not "less features". And your comment just gets more ignorant from thereon in. Once again: if features are all you care about, get yourself a nice Linux phone. The rest of us care about the interface. You won't understand why that is until you look past the flashy graphics.

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