Thursday, 22 November 2007

iPhone - Smartphone for the Normob?

I've had plenty of people wanting to have a look and a play and everyone has been

  1. amazed at it's beauty
  2. able to use just about anything on the phone without much guidance
  3. grinning from ear to ear while they've had it in their hands

Which makes me wonder if perhaps the iPhone is actually the perfect phone for the Normob. Obviously I'm ignoring the hefty price tag and big old data plan.

A friend of mine who has a phone for calls and texts and that's it, and like any true Normob has no idea what model of phone she has, took one look at the iPhone and declared her immediate desire for one.

Because it was so intuitive, she could actually see herself using most of it's features. Photo's of her children, emails as she moves about, a bit of web browsing if she needed to check something out and of course all with a phone attached, perfect.

I reckon I must use 80% of the features of the iPhone, I probably used about 20% of my N95. I've passed it on to Kate in the office, who was very excited and has spent lots of time fiddling around, loading music and getting it just so. She was however a little daunted by the encyclopedia, masquerading as an user manual that I passed to her shortly afterwards.

Julian has been quite dismissive of my purchase. He believes (correct me if I'm misrepresenting you Julian) that Apple have missed a trick by not making the iPhone exclusive enough. He feels it is too easily attainable and therefore will lose it's caché. I'm not so sure.

Apple revolutionised the MP3 market with the iPod by giving people music on the move rather than just a feature rich MP3 player. They've sold and continue to sell bucket loads of devices that are still the most desirable on the market.

I believe that the iPhone could have the same revolutionary impact in bring the mobile Internet to the masses. The feature laden, geek friendly smartphone alternatives are very similar to the original MP3 players. Ghastly user experience, tricky to setup, awkward to use, tiny screens. Enter the iPhone and you just touch and stroke a few times and you have access to the Internet wherever you are.

I really want the iPhone to succeed and by success I don't necessarily mean commercially for Apple. It's more that I hope that it's a catalyst for a revolution in mobile Internet devices. I hope that other device manufacturers step up to the plate, competition like this breeds innovation and BiP (Before iPhone) things were starting to look a little bleak IMHO.

If the net result is Normobs wanting to and being able to use the Internet on the move then that can only benefit us all.

4 comments:

Julian Hucker said...

It's not that I think Apple have been too exclusive - the reverse - I think they've missed the chance for ubiquity.

Doubtless it's fantastic to use, technically marvelous, and quite alot of money. If it were a car it would be a Subaru Impreza Turbo - and we all know how cool that's become!

Apple's stuffed full of marketing geniuses but imho they've missed how the Europeans buy phones. There are 3 main groups:

1. Corporate users whose companies buy their phones for them
2. People who dont have to pay for them: journalists, company principle ;)
3. Everyone else who buys their own.

Apple clearly aren't targetting the first group. I understand why but I suspect far more Europeans get their phones from their employers than Americans

So the 2nd group creates the hype that encourages the self-procurers to spend their money.

Well there's been plenty of very positive hype. And yet sales are reported as cool.

70% of interviewees in a recent survey said they thought the iPhone was over-priced.

So who has bought it:

Apple-fans: a small and finite groups
Early adopters / geeks: also a small group
... and chavs who want to demonstrate they can afford £269.

You can just see them being waved around by Impreza drivers all over the country

The iPhone should never have been free but if they'd priced it at £100 there would have been a far greater uptake which would have done far more to drive adoption - I'd have queued at £100 and I dont pay for my phones either.

There's already been a backlash in the States when Apple dropped the price so I suspect they'll be a little more hesitant this time.

Which seems a shame because it truly does appear to be something different. So much so that I'm going to have to swallow my pride and have a play with it!

My forecast:

Big Christmas rush as it becomes the chav must-have encourages Apple to maintain pricing
Credit crunch bites at home in the new year leading to a big drop in customer confidence
3G launch is pushed back accordingly
Original iPhones start to look a little tired as they get increasingly unlocked (think old model Scoobys with rude wheels and big exhaustpipes)
Nokia reverse engineer it, introduce a phone for the corporate fleets and sweep all before them.

Doesn't mean the iPhone wasnt the catalyst - just that someone else makes all the money - sound familiar?

HeavyLight said...

I'm a bit late in commenting but wanted to support Julian's perspective, especially his forecast.

However I doubt Nokia will reverse-engineer an iPhone successfully -- the winner is more likely to be an HTC version of the gPhone, I suspect.

Mind you, I can't wait to see the iPhone mod with "rude wheels and big exhaustpipes"!
:-)

The Opionated Normob said...

I'm a bit late in commenting but wanted to support Julian's perspective, especially his forecast.

However I doubt Nokia will reverse-engineer an iPhone successfully -- the winner is more likely to be an HTC version of the gPhone, I suspect.

Mind you, I can't wait to see the iPhone mod with "rude wheels and big exhaustpipes"!
:-)

Julian Hucker said...

Opinionated Normob - good to hear from a fellow arbiter of good taste!

Re. tricked up iphones - check this out: http://www.smstextnews.com/2007/10/the_ultra_exclusive_apple_iphone_black.html

Its starting!