13
Dec
09

iPhone Syndrome

Updated to add the original link, fix some spelling and grammar errors and because the 3GS has a 3mp sensor, not a 5mp. Not that it changes my point.

This was yet another stupid story that made the blogosphere rounds yesterday, and which I really couldn’t be bothered to spend any time on, since I figured that it was the same Apple-users-are-all-cultists bullshit that people like to run for link bait. But John Dowdell over at Adobe couldn’t resist chiming in and adding his own two cents. Since the idea of jd accusing anyone else of suffering from Stockholm is the height of irony, I just had to check it out.

Predictably, it was a pile of horseshit pondering all the same complaints that people have had about the iPhone since it was announced. The only novelty is that iPhone users now have a psychological disorder and Apple gets a free ride in the press. Right.

Anyway, here is their list with my answers.

1. The first iPhone was not a 3G phone: What do you need 3G for? You can easily use the iPhone without using a 3G network and anyway, 3G is not particularly widespread, so this is not a problem.

Actually the first iPhone didn’t have 3G because the 3G chipsets available were massive battery hogs. Network speed was sacrificed for battery life. This isn’t a secret, Steve Jobs said as much in the intro. No one liked EDGE or thought it was better than 3G and everyone was expecting a 3G version.

2. The phone cannot send MMS: There is no need to send MMSs, hardly anybody sends MMSs.

MMS is inferior to email and is primarily used by phones with shit cameras and no real data connections. Can you send multiple full resolution 3mp5mp images via MMS? Yeah, didn’t think so.

3. You cannot forward a SMS: This is a function that hardly anybody uses and was therefore not included in the first iPhones.

So what? It was added in one of the first OS updates. If it was such a dealbreaker for anyone, they shouldn’t have bought it. I’ve never forwarded an SMS and really only use it at all with people who don’t have push email on their phones.

4. The phone has a poor camera: The built-in camera is perfectly adequate and the iPhone takes fantastic photos with its camera.

It is adequate. If you can take decent photos with it, it’s adequate. It’s not a GREAT camera, but I don’t think anyone outside of Apple’s marketing claimed otherwise. Anyway, the best camera is the one you have with you.

5. It is not a real Smartphone, it cannot multitask: The phone has all the necessary functions and the OS is technically superior compared to other Smartphone OSs currently on the mobile market.

Again, the iPhone has always been capable of multitasking. The phone, safari and iPod apps all work in the background, as do a bunch of unix daemons. Apple has just refused to open third party apps to background rights so far. It is widely expected that Apple will do so in the future, possibly as soon as iPhone OS 4, if only to deny the competition a bullet point. Do people actually like the fact that the Pre has trouble answering calls in time due to its multitasking model?

6. The iPhone cannot multitask, resulting in a great number of applications being unusable: The absence of multitasking is a deliberate design decision resulting in a faster UI.

See my point above. If you honestly think that the iPhone can’t multitask, then you’re a moron. My jailbroken iPhone has Backgrounder on it that uses a private API that allows apps of my choosing to run in the background. This has a cost in both stability and battery life, but it works. So yes, it was a deliberate choice on Apple’s part, not a technical limitation of the platform.

7. You can not change battery on the iPhone: How many customers run around with spare batteries? None or very few.

Again with the battery argument? Its not just “very few” people who swap batteries on a regular basis, its “almost no one.” Even some analysts who were complaining about that admitted that they don’t swap batteries. Its simply a non-issue. The only time I ever had to swap batteries was because it died, I had to swap the sim card or to do a hard reset because it ate shit. None of those have been a problem with my iPhone or that of anyone I know.

8. Apple decides which applications you can install on the phone: This is good, because Apple thereby ensures that you do not get inferior programs on your phone.

There have already been instances of apps being removed from the store because they steal contacts or are otherwise malicious. Apple has a point here.

9. The app store is a closed universe: Apple knows what is best for end users, which is good for the many iPhone users.

The App Store has been an amazing success, both for customers and developers. Before the App Store, mobile apps were poor quality, expensive and buggy. The App Store has a lot of problems, not the least of which is Apple’s opacity and inconsistency. There is a lot to improve, but the idea is a good one. Opening the phone to side loading is something that a lot of people would like to see, but not too likely to happen.

10. The phone does not support Java, so games need to be developed especially for the iPhone: Java is slow and not properly integrated with mobile phones, games for the iPhone are much better because they are directly developed for the iPhone.

Fuck Java. Are you seriously bitching about the lack of shitty Java apps on the iPhone? Java is slow, because Java apps require a JVM to run. That’s a Java Virtual Machine, running on a mobile device. Why do you think that Sun developed a mobile version of Java? As opposed to Cocoa Touch, which runs native, compiled code that’s optimized for the platform. There’s a reason why people refer to Java’s promise of “Write once, run everywhere” as “Write once, debug everywhere.”

Oh, and fuck Flash too. Flash is a buggy piece of shit that runs like ass on anything that isn’t IE on Windows. And since goons like Dowdell feel that minority platforms like OS X and Linux with their “inferior” browsers aren’t worth their time, Flash will continue to suck. Remember that video that Adobe put out demoing Flash on the Pre? Notice how the Pre’s battery went to shit? Think catching a couple of videos is worth that?I don’t. There’s a reason why Apple blocks non-cocoa or webkit code interpreters.

11. The app store contains numerous small trivial commercial programs: The app store’s large selection gives users the freedom of choice and the many small programs help make the end users daily lives more fun.

Small trivial commercial apps? How exactly is that a problem? Considering that the big advantage that Windows has over the Mac is games, this strikes me as a bit insane. The App Store also has non-trivial apps and big games. There’s a reason why the store has categories like games, productivity, utilities, health, business among many others. How exactly does the presence of paid fart apps detract from the platform? I haven’t purchased one, and the fact that they exist doesn’t affect my experience at all.

I mean seriously, what exactly is the problem here?

12. It is difficult to use the touchscreen for fast SMS messaging: The touchscreen makes the phone easier to use and you quickly get used to it.

I wrote this entire post on my iPhone, using the Squarespace app. No mobile keyboard is as good as a fullsize keyboard. There are people who need a physical keyboard and there are those that don’t. The only right approach is the one that works for you. Arguing that just because you can’t type fast or well on an iPhone, no one can, well I call bullshit. I type pretty damn fast and use both thumbs and using Blackberries hurts my thumbs. And the Droid’s keyboard is unusable unless you look at it. And the Pre’s keyboard is too small for me. I could go on. No keyboard is perfect and every keyboard is unusable for someone.

13. The iPhone is a low technology phone packaged in a sleek design: Apple has taken the combination of the design and UI to the next level, therefore the technological specifications don’t really matter.

Low tech? How exactly is the iPhone low tech? Every Android phone except the Droid is using the same processor as the original iPhone from 2007. Every smartphone that isn’t from Apple, Palm or a Nokia N-series has 256-512MB of built-in storage and relies on micro sd cards for expansion. That’s a bug, not a feature. You can only install apps in the built-in memory, not on the sd card. Seeing as how I have 1.5GB of apps installed with more siting in iTunes that I’m not using, I fail to see how Apple’s approach is low tech. Additionally, the iPhone 3GS that I’m using has the most powerful ARM processor available, which is shared only by the Pre, the Droid and the N900. (The Snapdragon has a higher clockspeed, but is an older architecture than the Cortex A8.)

The iPhone was the first to ship with a multitouch capacitive glass display. Every touchscreen device previous used a plastic resistive display. Its soft keyboard is still best of class, as is its browser, which pioneered real mobile web browsing. Please, please tell me how much better Blazer or Pocket IE were than Safari. Even better, tell me how much better they are now.

What exactly about any model iPhone is low tech? Other devices might have better specs here and there, but when it comes to the total package, none of them came close. Its only now that devices are providing similar experiences.

14. The quality of the phone is poor, calls are often interrupted and network coverage is poor: It is a good phone, these problems are due to the operators’ networks and not the phone.

Apple doesn’t run any cellular networks, it builds the phone. Carriers that are not AT&T do not share AT&T’s limitations. AT&T is the only major carrier to not include MMS at launch and the only to not allow tethering. The iPhone has average call quality, which is not helped by the weakness of AT&T’s network.

15. You can only purchase the iPhone from operators chosen by Apple: Apple has spent a great deal of time and energy selecting the best operators for customers.

Um, welcome to the cell phone industry. Usually, its the carrier dictating which devices it carries, and what features and software it runs. Again, in countries that are not the US, the iPhone runs on multiple carriers. The only real requirement is that the carrier have a compatible GSM network and be willing to do business Apple’s way. Verizon and Sprint don’t operate GSM networks and T-Mobile uses an oddball frequency. There will not be an iPhone on Verizon until they use a global GSM standard.

Tell me, there are GSM Droids and Pres in existence. Why are they not available on AT&T?Why is it bad for Apple to do exclusive deals, but not Palm or Motorola?

16. The iPhone is targeted at a niche segment and will not be able to develop further: Apple has succeeded in designing a phone for people that appreciate design and user friendliness.

I don’t really understand this one. The iPhone opened smartphones to the mass market. Apple is selling more year over year. The niche that Apple is targeting is the one that is willing to pay for data plans or willing to pay for an iPod Touch.

Who really thinks that Apple has hit the peak of the iPhone market? Surely there must be some data to back that up, right?

17. The iPhone does not support memory cards: Iphones already offer the necessary memory people require and end users can choose between two models, one with a little memory and one with a great deal of memory.

16GB is a little memory? In what reality? A 16GB micro sdhc card costs at least $40 and can’t have apps installed on it. SD cards are a crutch that hobbled devices that can’t be bothered to include enough built in memory.

18. You can not install your own browser: The browser Apple has designed is so superior that you do not need any other browser on your phone.

Mobile Safari is the best mobile browser on the market. This has been confirmed several times by various sources. You can get webkit-based browsers on the App Store today, so that argument is total bullshit. But what about other browsers? What, like Opera or Fennec or IE? Compared to webkit, opera (the real opera that actually does its own rendering) is really slow. Fennec isn’t a real product yet, and IE? What a fucking joke. There’s a reason why Safari, WebOS, Android and soon Blackberry all use webkit.

So the real complaint is that there’s no competition for webkit. Well, that’s really on Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera then, isn’t it?

19. You cannot use the iPhone as a modem for your portable PC: People that have an iPhone do not need their portable when on the move.

Um, actually, you can. That was one of the big features of OS 3, remember? The fact that AT&T still doesn’t allow it is a source of constant complaints. Its just that rational people know to complain about AT&T, not Apple. The fact is, the iPhone can tether right now and does with useful carriers and even with AT&T using hacks.

20. There is no radio in the phone: You do not need a radio in your iPhone because the iPhone supports iTunes that offers almost unlimited music.

Yeah, the radio on the zune really helped it kick the ipod’s ass. Yeah, there’s no FM radio in the iPhone. There’s a simple reason why Apple gets away with that. Its because no one cares. Radio has the advantages of shitty reception, DJ’s who never shut the fuck up and lots and lots of commercials. (Commercial) Radio sucks and you know it. Hell, you can even get NPR, Democracy Now! and all sorts of radio and tv shows as free podcasts or iPhone apps. The inability to recurve terrestrial FM is clearly not an issue. Besides, how many smartphones have FM radios, and for those that do, how much use do they get?

There are many arguments for and against the iPhone, on the other hand there is no doubt that Apple has some of the most loyal end users on the market and that iPhone users will go out of their way to defend the phone they love and worship.

Love and worship? Fuck, will we ever be free of the myth of the Apple cultist? People like their iPhones because they’re actually very good devices with a great interface. People who live in Google’s ecosystem might be better served using Android, and Blackberries work great when your company uses BIS for its email.

There’s not really any need to defend either Apple or the iPhone. Both are clearly doing well on their own. The thing that really gets me is this notion that anyone who uses one and likes it is somehow delusional or mind controlled by Steve Jobs. Its not perfect, but imperfection is clearly not the same as being bad.

The Droid lets you run Google Voice out of the box, but it scrolls like shit and can be seriously unresponsive. The much-vaunted Android Gmail app is slow and has to use the menu button to do all sorts of tasks that the iPhone’s Mail app handles more smoothly through use of its toolbars.

There are many similarities to the Stockholm Syndrome and from an outside perspective there is little doubt that many mobile phone manufacturers are most probably envious of the users on Apple’s platform.

Somehow I doubt that this was written by any sort of qualified professional.

In reality the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.

Where exactly is this Apple-worshipping media?Everyone, including Apple blogs, is critical of Apple’s handling of the App Store and AT&T (well, not this guy, but macmacs can blog too). The problem is that there are so many people, like whoever wrote this shit, or jd or Enderle or whomever that write blatant lies and stupid shit. There’s a reason why the Angry Mac Bastards have so much material to work with every week. This guy seems to have confused “truth” with ” shit I wish was true.” Notice there were no sources given ever, for any of his points, especially for his armchair psychological diagnoses.

There are indeed many similarities between the Stockholm Syndrome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome and what we have taken the liberty to start calling the “iPhone Syndrome”

No, there aren’t. Unless you were taken hostage by an evil iPhone, which case you have bigger problems.

– and if you are one of the many other phone manufacturers: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, HTC etc., you will most probably be very envious of the euphoria that Apple has invoked in their customers

Here’s a hint to those manufacturers: make great hardware tightly integrated with great software. Make an awesome user experience. HTC is getting there. Their hardware is really good, Android is still pretty rough, at least compared to the iPhone.

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