July 19, 2007

I Bought an iPhone

My wife tells me this is because I have no ability to resist buying gadgets. Looking at the smartphones I’ve owned in the past two years, there might be something to it.

Parade of Smartphones

And if I still had my non-phone PDAs, the collection of personal gadgets would be even longer. (Palm III in 1998, HP Jornada 540, Compaq iPaq 3630, HP Jornada 567, iPaq 2200 series.)

So in spite of changing my PDA on average once a year, there are a few things about this purchase that did make me a little queasy. First, it’s the first time since my Palm III that I’ve used a device that doesn’t run a Microsoft operating system. Second, I had the device that immediately preceeded my iPhone (the Treo 750 in the picture) for less than two months. I had the device before it (the Cingular 3125 flip phone) for about eight months. Why have I been compelled to fly through devices so fast recently? Finally, I’ve had to put down more money for the iPhone than I have for any PDA. (I can’t recall the details, but the HP Jornada 540 might have been close in price.)

So what made me do it? Why did I go from flip phone to keyboard phone to iPhone in less than a year? Why have I abandoned Microsoft in my pocket?

There are two main reasons. The first is the simply stunning form factor of the iPhone. It’s half the thickness of the Treo, and the screen is amazing. I haven’t seen another portable screen like it. Browsing through photos on the iPhone is a great experience. I can show off baby pictures on this phone, and it will be as good or better as carrying a stack of 4x6 prints.

Second, the iPhone gives a great experience browsing the web. Much better than I’ve been able to do with any other portable device.

This last point highlights the interesting tradeoff I’ve made as a Microsoft employee. The Treo is the pinnacle of the business phone. It’s just as pleasant to hold as the iPhone (actually, I think the Treo feels better in my hand, while the thinner iPhone feels better in my pocket). The Treo plugged in seamlessly and effortlessly into our corporate Exchange servers. With it and its keyboard, I was mind-melded with the corporate information grid. But the Treo’s connection to the rest of the web is weak.

The iPhone is the opposite. With the iPhone, my connection to the Corporate Grid is tenuous (email on the iPhone is unpleasant, and my calendar is no longer always-up-to-date). But my connection to the rest of the Internet — to Google, to Facebook, to Flickr, to YouTube, to Amazon, etc., etc. — is incredible.

That’s the about-face I decided to make. After nine years of buying devices that brought me increasingly in touch with the corporate world, I decided I’d rather have something in my pocket that would better connect me to the rest of the world.

Now that I have this fancy phone, though, I guess I better use it to call people!

PC and Mac

Written by Brian Dewey.

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