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Pondering the iPhone Mass Appeal
Friday, June 29th, 2007 at 2:20 PM - by
Every gadget freak wants an iPhone. However, some are wondering if the iPhone's innovations will go over well with the mainstream public accustomed to a different, no-look, tactile usage, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. TMO/iPO Editor-in-Chief Bryan Chaffin was one of those asked about that.
Some customers, enamored with the ease of use and quality of the iPhone believe that the phone will be widely adopted. Roger Thompson was caught as he left the Mayfair Mall recently and said, "I think these [iPhones] will be as popular and as widespread as cell phones and iPods are now."
Some analysts and customers, with a different perspective, see the iPhone as just another, additional player in the already crowded high end smartphone field. Others, however, recognize the breakthrough design of the iPhone.
Comparing the iPhone to the original iPod, Mr. Thompson added, "When Apple came out with the iPod, there were lots of music players out there, but they all sucked," he said. "Apple came along and changed everything with the iPod. Sure, there are phones out there now that do what the iPhone can do, but I think the iPhone can do it better. You'll see."
That seems to reflect the emerging consensus amongst many analysts. The iPhone's design and software controls will appeal to a many more people than some naysayers presume.
"Apple's products work so much better than others, and the community has been waiting for an Apple handheld ... no one has been able to make the darn things [smart phones] work," said Bryan Chaffin, Editor-in-Chief of The Mac Observer and iPodObserver.com. "People are just excited about having a device that will just work."
However, Mr. Chaffin doesn't think the iPhone will replace traditional iPods due to its limited storage for its size. "I can't imagine anyone taking an iPhone to the gym. It's just too big." Despite that, he added, "But I think in many ways, it will become the iPod device that many people use because they will always have it with them."
Sasha Segan of PC Magazine pointed out that the iPhone is a "cultural cachet." As a result, he doesn't think the high price will scare away many customers. "Apple-ness demands a higher, premium price," Mr. Segan observed.
The lingering problem for many is the necessity to actually look at the iPhone display while operating it. Many accomplished users are accustomed to the tactile feel of their keyboard and easily make calls without looking at the phone. [Or they can use voice input.]
"With a key pad you have immediate tactile feedback, your finger knows where to put the pressure, and that is fairly easy to do," said David Platt, a Boston-area author. "Touch screens in general sound very attractive until you sit down and start using them. You find out pretty quickly in everyday use they are a whole lot more difficult than you thought at first glance." Mr. Platt pointed out that the iPod is easy to use because of that tactile feel, and it can be operated without looking at it too closely.
Apple, however, is a company that tends to set new standards and moves its customer base into new ways of thinking. The key may be whether the ease of use, the gorgeous Web browsing experience, the Apple-ness and quality of the device can convince the mainstream users to give up that "feel" they've become so accustomed to and embrace a new way of handling and touching their mobile phone.
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