Tuesday, July 03, 2007

iDon't think so

Ahhh the iProduct of the month, the iPhone.

It's pretty.

Now, I absolutely run my life on my smart phone. I have so many meetings in different places, time zones, conference bridges etc… and so much email, that if I didn’t have it I couldn't do my job.

I also keep all my reference docs on there, all my policies and procedures, hundreds of manuals for every circumstance, contacts from everywhere, and hundreds of “recreational reading” type ebooks. I’ve been stranded in the middle of nowhere for a couple weeks; where I had power but no transpo; I’ve learned the value of ebooks the hard way.

The great thing is that I can do my job from anywhere. I was being paid to work (and working from the road) while driving to and from Texas for example (the rest of the crew were doing the driving, I was on the phone and laptop half the day each way).

The bad thing is, I can work anywhere. The only way I can get away from work is to go where there is no cell signal.

So obviously I'm a big fan of smart phones, I'm a heavy user, and I'm an early adopter of tech.
Given all this, I'm the ideal customer for an iPhone...

... but iDon't want one.

The problem is, it's not a particularly good phone, or pda, or portable computer, or anything really other than a personal media player (music and video for those non gadget freaks out there) ...

It's on a crappy network, it costs $499 or $599 for 4gb or 8gb of storage, its only got EDGE data and WiFi (my two year old MDA has both as well) no keyboard, no pushmail, no additional applications... It's crippled.

Overall it's got all the tech of a three or four year old device, excepting the nifty big and bright LCD, which admittedly is kinda nice.

Here's the real problem though; it's hard locked to the network (it will take a firmware update to unlock it, which will void your warranty), and the penalty for cancellation of your contract is the full two year value of the contract, even though you're paying full retail price for the phone. Not just some $175 early cancellation fee, the full value of the contract.

And just what is that full cost?

The absolute minimum price of the phone and the contract over two years, without taxes, is $1900. Add in the taxes, fees, and activation, and you are talking about another $350 or so (depending on your state and city. In NYC it’s more like $450). If you get the 8gb model with the 1350 minute unlimited data plan then the total is more like $3500 over 2 years. If you want text messaging you can either pay $0.10 a piece, or pay $10 a month extra for 1500 or $20 for unlimited.

If you want the AT&T unlimited hot spots plan it's an additional $30 a month, but I won't include that here since it is optional functionality (the data plan most definitely is not optional if you mean to sue the damn thing for what its intended).

My T-mobile MDA, which is more than two years old at this point, is significantly more capable than the iPhone. It's got GPRS, EDGE, WiFi, Pushmail, an actual full qwerty keyboard; everything but the huge LCD (my LCD is plenty big enough thanks), and the pretty UI.

Importantly though, I'm not locked in to Apples restricted platform, I can use any windows mobile software out there. Not that I care for Windows Mobile all that much, but there are literally millions or applications available for it; the iPhone has about a dozen.

Oh and I’ve only got 4gb of storage, but it’s in changeable cards and I can use as many as I want. The iPhone doesn't take any external storage at all. Not only that, but using SDIO, I can add peripherals through that storage slot, like GPS systems for example. Or I can add them with bluetooth.

Not only does the iPhone not have any expansion slot, but it's bluetooth is limited only to headsets... because Apple doesn't want you syncing your iPhone over bluetooth, or WIFI or EDGE for that matter. See, because it's also an iPod, and to ward off those evil pirates,Apple has completely locked out any filesystem access, or sync access through anything other than the USB port and iTunes.

This also means no Linux, and no 64 bit windows for your iPhone by the way.

But really, I could live with msot of that, if it weren't for the price.

The MDA cost me $299 not including the rebate (which was $100). My 1000 minute a month service with unlimited data, 1000 text messages, and unlimited t-mobile hot spots, including all taxes etc… is $90 a month. Oh and I can upgrade to 1500 minutes for $10 more.

My two year costs, including the phone, taxes, and fees are $2450, minus the $100 rebate, plus $240 to bring the minutes up to 1500; for a grand total of $2590. To match just what the MDA can do, the iPhones costs over two years would be $4300 ($600 phone, $2400 in basic services, $240 in sms, $720 in hot spot fees, $350 in taxes and fees).

Give it 3G, an expansion card slot, and a choice of networks, and I'll be all over it. Until then... $1700 to look “cool"…

iDon't think so