“Not sensible, but, oh, the joy of it!”

Column published on Saturday November 10th 2007 in The Guardian “Not sensible, but, oh, the joy of it! – The Guardian headline

And lo! The great day came.

I have been using an Apple iPhone now for more than four months. This is due to an unhealthy mixture of friendship with its designer, a slobbery and pathetic love of the new, the possession of an American billing address (necessary until today for the activation and use of the device) and a willingness to pay preposterous international roaming charges. It puts me in a good position however, to tell you what you’re in for if you decide to own one of these honeys.

I should first get out of the way all the matters that will please those of you wrinkling your noses in a contemptuous Ian Hisloppy sort of way at the sheer hype, pretension, nonsense and hoopla attendant on what is, after all, only a phone. There is much to support your case.

Proud techie owners of rival devices can say: “What, only a 2-meg camera? What, no GPS? What, no 3G? What, no video? What, no third party applications?” What, no Sim card swapping?” A whole heap of what no-ing can be done.

Proud non-techie people can say: “I just want a phone that lets me make a call with the minimum of fuss. I don’t want a ‘design classic’ and I certainly don’t want to be locked into an 18-month data plan, whatever that might be.”

Even those excited by the iPhone and likely to block their ears to the derisive hoots above, even they must allow themselves honestly to accept its drawbacks. Text entry is, despite the spine-tingling brilliance of a creepily accurate auto-correct facility, clumsy. There are perhaps a dozen niggles of that nature (though the camera isn’t one: the iPhone’s lowly 2-megapixel snapper easily outperforms higher-spec rivals). So what’s to set against these drawbacks?

Beauty. Charm. Delight. Excitement. Ooh. Aah. Wow! Let me at it.

In the end the iPhone is like some glorious early-60s sports car. Not as practical, reliable, economical, sensible or roomy as a family saloon but oh, the joy. The jouissance as Roland Barthes liked to say. What it does, it does supremely well, that what it does not do seems laughably irrelevant.

The iPhone is a digital experience in the literal sense of the word. The user’s digits roam, stroke, tweak, tweeze, pinch, probe, slide, swipe and tap across the glass screen forging a relationship with the device that is like no other.

“But I don’t want to ‘forge a relationship’, I just want to get the job done,” you say? Well then, you know what? Don’t buy one. And stop reading this. You’re only doing so in the first place to lend fuel to your snorts and puffs of rage. Allow us our pleasures.

Whatever your view on Apple’s new instant icon, you will not be able to deny that it has already changed forever what was already a colossal market.

There was pre-iPhone and there will be post-iPhone. All the competitors will have to come up with something better. I’m no red in tooth and claw capitalist, but actually, I can’t think this example of mercantile evolution-through-competition is so very bad.

Conflict-traded rare earths and minerals, that’s another matter. Someone wrote to tell me that the iPhone is full of Congolese metals. Guardian readers may want elucidation on this front. I’m not the man to give it, I fear.

The rest of the world can mock as much as it likes. If you’re going to have a phone/video player/slideshow/music centre/web browser/camera in your pocket, is it so wrong to want one that makes you grin from ear to ear? Not with smugness (though heaven knows the enemies of the device will read that into the smiles) but with delight.

© Stephen Fry 2007

Stephen Fry’s gadget column, Dork Talk, appears in The Guardian newspaper’s Weekend section.

This blog was posted in Guardian column

47 comments on ““Not sensible, but, oh, the joy of it!””

  1. jillydoc says:

    Dear Stephen,

    I’ve been curious to find out if the iPhone would live up to your hopes and I am so happy it has! I am not one who needs to do business with my phone, but I do want it to provide pleasure and convenience, read fun! What kept me from buying an iPhone was having to change my service provider. Happily I am not lumbered with a contract at the moment, and having Verizon cripple so many services on their phones, bluetooth, GPS, data service etc., I think this is the time to jump ship.

    Thanks for your blog and I hope to hear from you soon on your travels in America. I live in Los Angeles and hope you’ll be driving your black cab here, if only to end your trip with a visit to friends before leaving for home.

    Warmest regards,

    Jillian

  2. robertas says:

    This really gave me the giggles… not because I’m iPhone freak or anything of the sort, far from it in fact I have yet to fall in love with the phone… but you Mr. Fry give me the giggles, your delight and joy is actually palpable… and sheer horror of the word kind of cute (delight and joy I mean, although when I think about it you are not so bad yourself :)
    I can only presume you are frightfully busy with the documentary and whatnot, but you know we are all dying to hear about the latest installment of your travels…so blessay would be lovely… ok I’m off to have my morning coffee…
    oh and I have FINALLY read Moab… oh Lord, but I’m leaving it for Stephen Fry Appreciation Moday :)
    Stay safe on your travels… and I hope you do not plan to cross any picket lines in LA…

  3. chris hopkins says:

    I do wish Apple had chosen to sell an unlocked iPhone. Competition between the networks would have brought better deals than the O2 offer. As an Apple addict (now on my 7th Mac in 18 years) I really want an iPhone, but just can’t bring myself…

    The launch of the original iMac had a huge influence on the design of many household products…kettles, irons etc. Go to PC World and there are no longer rows of beige boxes. The same is already happening with the iPhone. All phone companies are raising their game, and we will all be winners.

  4. wilderness_pelican says:

    Being one who is not absorbed by technical capabilities, I applaud this review. Yes, I understand what is desirable in terms of functionality on a phone, however it is always the sensory experience which wins the day. More often than not I will see a phone, without knowing what make or brand it is and think “I want it. I want it in my bag so I can secretly brush my fingers against it when I pull out my diary.”

    When I explain to others that it is because it is beautiful they deride me. So a standing ovation for a review which talks about the pleasure of owning a beautiful mobile phone.

  5. Spot says:

    How frustrating!

    iPhone in cradle and iTunes busy – I suppose the best thing to do is go for a walk (but it’s horrid sleet out there) and come back when the queue has died down…

    I’m grinning just looking at it though :)

  6. AJ says:

    Hi Stephen, this is my first, no, second time visiting you but I have now broken my comment virgin status and quite proud!

    I am certainly no techno-phobe but I try and keep my life as simple as possible these days. It seems that there is too much to take in for my little brain. Sad I know but I get qute anxious as it is having a phone (currently using a Nokia N73) that does more than just allow me to talk to my family and friends as I feel, as you mention, I should be having a far more intimate relationship with it but just can’t bring myself to ask it out!! I hope you get what you want from the iphone.

    Enjoy your journeys around the States and I look forward to hearing how it goes from my little portal here in Bedford.

  7. Paul Crowley says:

    Is the iPhone actually any worse than other phone manufacturers for use of conflict-traded raw materials? You may recall that Greenpeace all but admitted that they criticized the iPhone’s use of potentially hazardous materials not because it is any worse than other phones but because the name “iPhone” makes headlines.

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/10/23/greenpeace_vs_apple_round_two/

  8. Baz says:

    Chris, the way I understand it, the problem with competition is Visual Voicemail. The network provider has to install extra equipment and software for it, so of course wants an exclusive deal to pay for that. Arguably for some people, VV is the most compelling reason to get an iPhone.

  9. Bltp says:

    Good stuff, It’s always good to have enthusiatic comment on any subject these days. One thing though Stephen why when you’ve got draws full of gizmos and computing power come out of your ears, do you mainly express your creativity through 20th century and earlier forms of technology, newpaper colmuns (chewed up trees), film (bits of silver stuck on cellotape), pantomime (men dressed as women, soap starlets dressed as men…)? Have you tried making your own films you must the kit and have some actor mates to help out, Steve Job would surely help with podding it in some shape or form? Or is it just shopping (not entirely a bad thing) ? Anyway look forward to your next column :)

  10. Love Bug says:

    My sister waited in line this summer so she could be one of the first people on her block to own an iPhone. It is a bonny thing — a pretty toy to be admired and fondled. The tactile experience is satisfying but … IT DROPS HER CALLS! EVERY TIME!

    So, yes, it is not sensible, but what does sense have to do with desire, anyway?

  11. Flookwit says:

    I pledge my allegiance to Apple; I love my MacBook and would be lost without it. I woud be unable to fall asleep at night if I didn’t have my iPod plugged into my cartilaginous holey sockets speaking soporific Miss Marple at night. However, my interest in the Apple iPhone is limited to the adverts. “I want one of those”, I told my partner as he peered at the latest” plasma HD ready television screen on offer in John Lewis. “What? A 37inch screen, or an iPhone?”. “No!” I replied, pointing at the advert running, “A skateboarding bulldog!”. How the heck did they train the dog to do that? Far more fascinating to ponder than an iPhone (although if someone wants to test whether I will change my mind given an iPhone, I am happy to oblige……I’d still like to meet the dog though!).

    As an aside, when are you going to write more blessays/blissertations/blisquisitions or perhaps even blitherances, on your current tour of the US? Partner and I have plenty of dork/nerd/dweeb material to read in the loo; we need a change. Please. Embarrassingly fawning fan…….Flooky.

  12. benleto says:

    I don’t think I have ever taken joy in spending money on something sensible.

  13. Josef K says:

    My wife had the nerve to take our 6 month old son to His Very First Apple Shopâ„¢ … without me !!!!!

    And she came back saying that the both (yes, both!) of them loved it … so how come is it that while a child barely 26 weeks outside of a womb can understand the joys of touchscreen interfaces, no one in a company outside of Apple can??

  14. oboogie says:

    I wish it wasn’t a) so expensive and b) locked to the AT&T network, Stephen. I’d be right there with you, otherwise.

    Still, I’ll probably buy it soon.

  15. boskengro says:

    After first glancing shyly and subsequently lustfully at glossy pics of the iPhone, my gathering passion was quenched in an instant by newsreel of the jostling queue at Mac Central in Regents Street. If the slack jaws and swiveling eyes were not enough to dampen ardour, the sight of successful purchasers leaving the premises whooping and gyrating like vandals who have just broken open the Ark of the Covenant did the trick in an instant. It was back then to the Sony Ericsson in the hope that the alert little chap hadn’t noticed my moment of doubt and temptation.

  16. I have quite recently gone mad over everything Apple.
    It began innocently with iPods and now we own an iMac (the new one, which is I must say Gorgeous), I’m currently saving up for a black macbook because they look just lovely and an iPhone.
    I don’t think people generally gain pleasure from buying things they need (with the possible exception of food- although that may just be me!).
    Hope you are well
    xxx

  17. zfiledh says:

    I felt the same way when I first got my hands on the brand new Toshiba laptop. The fingerprint reader was a pain (I keep disarming it whenever I turn the laptop on), but even that has become moot to someone who once had to endure at least 2 minutes before she could use the Pentium III desktop downstairs. :)

  18. Trouble says:

    This is what I love about you Stephen, such is your way with words you can actually change people’s minds. It hadn’t occurred to me that people join the Apple bandwagon for aesthetic reasons, I just see a queue of bandwagon jumpers following the hype, in the manner of: “So if (insert name) told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?” Having said that, if you told me to jump off a cliff, you’d probably be so persuasive, I would.
    I’m a bit of a technophobe, so I could never get on with Macs, having never used them, I avoided the ipod and bought a Creative Zen, just to be different amongst my friends, and such is my love of the Sony Ericsson camera phone that I’m very excited by the new 5 megapixel cybershot. You’ve certainly persuaded me of the beauty of the iphone, and I’ve dispelled all sneery thoughts about Apple devotees, but there’s something about hearing the gutteral click of the keypad when you text that can’t persuade me to switch to a touch screen device, no matter how beautiful the product.

  19. sphinx says:

    Stephen,

    I love reading your books, articles, columns and blessays now….

    I am a big fan of all things Apple myself – I own a couple of i-pods, a macbook, a mac pro, all sorts of apple devices – so I kind of share your enthusiasm, and I think you should be Apple’s promoter/spokesman/PR man etc etc…

    However, you cannot be serious about the I-phone here. First off, it costs too much for what it is. Its too big, its slow, limited applications…not worth it! I am sure the second generation of i-phones will be improved, but the way it is now, it is simply not worthy of such unconditional admiration.

  20. slinkoff says:

    If you can contain yourself, wait until February. 16GB version with 3G and BT stereo. I’d bet my N95 on it.

  21. Zazou says:

    Yes of course, it is a really nice device. Does it have flaws? Well, yes a surprising amount actually. However, the biggest problem is simply the price. Unless you are someone with a phone clamped to your ear for most of the day, the minimum (18 month) contract of £35 per month is simply ridiculous. In order to own one of these in the UK, the consumer will need to spend £909 (that’s 1900 US dollars folks!) Of course the price will come down over time, but the current pricing does seem excessive. Yes, early adopters always pay a premium but I think this is simply Apple and/or 02 being greedy.

  22. NeilHoskins says:

    The iPhone launch was lost on us N95 owners, because the free Light Sabre app was launched at the weekend. We no longer have to make the noises ourselves, and have spent the weekend whooshing around the house scaring wives and cats witless.

  23. PKblue says:

    Well I just had to get an iPhone on UK launch day. No it wasn’t sensible. Yes it is expensive. But I don’t care – it’s an absolute joy to use, it brings a smile to my face, and for me that is all worth it.

    In terms of phone/SMS functionality, it still has a way to go, but it is only a first generation device. But as the laudable Mr Fry says, what it does it does well!

    I for one am looking forward to watching it grow in functionality and features.

    I have owned many phones, but none of them have given me as much pleasure as the iPhone, and for that Apple I applaud you! And I even reward you with you sucking my cash away from me :)

  24. Michiel says:

    It is an end-user device, and a gloriously sleek one at that. The price point has never really been an issue for the early adopters. With all due respect I doubt many people care about Congolese metals: see also the current ipod factories in China.

    For us corporate drones the blackberry is THE excuse to fiddle with yourself under the table. And it will stay that way I think. I like my 8800, even if I am a little green with envy at all that end-user sleekness.

  25. Richard says:

    The best part of the iPhone.

    You have to stroke it to use it.

    Stroke it gently. Stroke it softly. Hold it in your hand. Never let it go.

    No, really. You’ll look really silly, and everyone around you will get to enjoy the kind of schadenfreude normally reserved for lottery winners tumbling down manholes after being shat on by pigeons while rushing to catch a late bus due to their train breaking down in Grimsby.

    And you don’t want that.

  26. Beauty. Charm. Delight. Excitement. Ooh. Aah. Wow! Let me at it.
    I’m so sorely tempted to invest in one now =]

  27. Mopsa says:

    Stephen, delighted that you have your Guardian stint – a distinct and knowledgeable voice on a specific subject is always a good thing. But (you KNEW there was to be a but), please don’t stop virgin bloggery. Stick your Guardian stuff in a separate tab and give us your original bloggery and blessary for which we tune in. That way fun lies.

  28. quixote says:

    I’ve never had an iPhone. I’ve only ever seen one in the wild, held by a nerd standing next to me in baggage claim at the airport.

    Standard disclaimer: I’m a snooty sneerer who thinks Apple is full of froth, the phone is way too expensive, I’d never lock in with another telco again, that way lies the fifth circle of hell, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I missed my bags on their first go-round because that thing is so gorgeous.

  29. wireman says:

    I bought one on Friday.

    I’m not disappointed.

    I keep stroking it in my pocket, waiting for it to ring, knowing that I possess one of the most powerful objects known to man, a beautiful thing that connects me to the world, wherever I am.

    The most joyous thing? Everybody that takes the piss wants to touch it.

  30. GiacomoL says:

    Stephen, we’ll see how your relationship will develop, as the lustful tactile experience gets ruined, day by day, by the lovely touchscreen getting unresponsive… when your toy will firmly demand to be punched where it used to ask for caressing, when you’ll have to try over and over again just to undress it of its lock… will you still feel the flame of passion?
    Or will you then get a grown-up, experienced, rugged lover, with whom to traverse deserts, cross oceans, and hug tight while squeezed in the rush-hour tube train?
    :)

  31. pajamaw says:

    Is Stephen Fry’s blog all going to be about dorky talk?…..

  32. unc says:

    Dear Mr Fry,

    The iphone is very good but I think you would have to admit that my ephone surpasses it technologically. It has a trunk sensitive screen, camera, interweb, television and all the other modern gubbins.

    More importantly, in these days of global heating up, it is very ecologically sound as well. It is powered by clockwork and so one never needs to worry about flat batteries or there disposal. My inventor, Cowgill, also assures me that it uses the latest valve technology so no rare metals are involved in its production.

    Call charges are very cheap as well as I own the telephonic network here at Homeward.

    I know you love to own the latest gadgets but I am afraid the ephone has been built exclusively for my use – although Cowgill says he is happy to accept commissions if you would like a tailor made phone.

    I know that you are a very intelligent man, and I do not wish to be presumptuous, but I wonder – I am a B.A., are you?

    Yours Faithfully,

    Uncle

    http://talesfromhomeward.blogspot.com/

  33. Andi says:

    “Text entry is, despite the spine-tingling brilliance of a creepily accurate auto-correct facility, clumsy.”

    I can’t get past this. How can a UI be brilliant if users make lots of errors during basic tasks?

    “…researchers found that while iPhone users entered text as fast as their counterparts, they made significantly more texting errors. iPhone users made 5.6 errors per message, while keyboard users made 2.1 mistakes per message and numeric phone typers made 2.4 mistakes.”

    http://www.usercentric.com/news.asp?ID=391
    http://www.subtraction.com/archives/2007/0905_the_little_k.php

  34. pauldwaite says:

    Word. We use our mobiles many times every day. The experience *should* be a joy. We shouldn’t put up with anything less.

    @Zazou: as far as the contract goes (£900, blah blah blah… as if with other phones you spend nothing on a contract), remember you get unlimited mobile internet access with it. Yes, not 3G, but unlimited. I think that’s quite rare at the moment in the UK.

    @Slinkoff: 3G next February? I’d bet your N95 on it not happening. As I understand, there aren’t any 3G chipsets with low enough power consumption. Late next year, I hear. 16 GB would be great though.

    I’m betting on a simplified iPhone next year. iPhone nano kinda thing. The iPhone is great, but it’s like the first iPods: overkill for the mass market. A cheaper, simpler iPhone in colours would surely clean up with people who pick phones as much on fashion as functionality.

  35. TOKYOGAL87 says:

    HI SIR STEPHEN FRY
    I’M SO HAPPY YOU STARTED A BLOG, SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH BUT YOU KNOW THIS IS NOT MY MOTHERTOUNGE LANGUAGE, BUT ANYWAY……
    JUST WANT TO SAY THAT I REALLY ADMIRE YOU, YOU ARE AN EXTRAORDINARY PERSON, YOU’RE DEFINETELY ONE OF MY IDOL.
    I HAD READ YOUR BLOG EVEN IF IS QUITE DIFFICULT SOMETIMES FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND EVERTHING, I IT INTERESTING ANYWAY.

    I REALLY HOPE TO LEARN SOMETHING FROM YOU

    I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR THE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT BIPOLAR, IT REALLY HELP ME IN A WAY. I NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH BUT I’M NOT READY FOR IT YET

    OK
    HAVE GREAT TIME BYE BYE FROM
    ME

  36. aaronrp says:

    And as the strains of the Marimba ringtone fade away…

  37. gracielou says:

    The iPhone is so much nicer than my first generation iPod (and, I’m ashamed to admit, much less expensive) which has held up really well through all kinds of ill treatment and it does inspire such wanton behavior.

    http://gracielouwho.com/b3ta.php?&page=8&pic=176

  38. tdjohan says:

    My switch to Mac happened not two months ago, and I’m still the fervor of a new glassy-eyed convert. Anything I say at present is liable to shameless biasedness, but boy am I happy. I ditched my Win-PC gears, lock stock & barrel. Sold or giveaway everything, PC, wireless router, Vaio notebook, mice, even usb-only external harddisks. And most recently my WinMob.

    Now I have a jailbroken, unlocked iPhone. It’s been a revelation. Not all good, of course. I frequently type in Indonesia language, the impudence of the auto-correction almost induced to hurl the iPhone at the wall, and to send the debris to Cupertino. After a few days, it’s fractionally less painful. But just a couple of days ago, I found this nifty tool that can…. drum roll… switch that blasted bug off!!!

    Other than that, I second what you said “Oh, the joy!” On it, I setup everything I can find, Facebook, Multiply, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, Google Reader, Docs, Notebook, and loads. I uploaded about some twenty pdf books that I plan to not read just show off. I downloaded four dictionaries, Merriam Webster, Longman, Collins, and Oxford. English Etymology and Concise Britannica. And to copy into the iPhone, I ftp-ed into it. Exquisite.

    The SMS threading is so simple, elegant and obvious it made you wonder YTF didn’t all phones come with it. Doesn’t need to be as pretty, just the concept. It legitimizes conversations over SMS. The control-freak-smug-Apple-knows-best thing is there of course, you can’t delete individual SMS for instance. However, nifty apps to rescue again. A simple tool to do just that. By now, I can’t imagine doing SMS the old way. While discussing the phone with my brother and friends, I actually used the very phrase you coined above, it changes the way one does things. Thence on, ….

    Email access to Yahoo and Google Mail is another bright spot. All my Yahoo Mail folders showed up on the iPhone, and I can choose which folder to download. And since I’ve upgraded to Yahoo Mail Plus and used the AddressGuard to direct mails to designated folders, I get all my social networking in one folders, all corporate mail forwards to another, et cetera. It is the Best Mail experience, bare none. UI-wise, better than Blackberry I daresay. And integration with webmails is more important to me.

    Web browsing is the next. A full Mozilla-like web browsing on a small device. And fast.

    Oh, and beauty. So beautiful. On that note, Amen.

  39. Duck says:

    I understand exactly what you mean. I watched Steve Jobs launch presentation last year and was completely captivated.

    http://pictureofaduck.blogspot.com/2007/01/geek.html

    I’ve been waiting since then to get my hands on one and the enjoyment of owning such a beautiful thing is enough in itself.

  40. minxlj says:

    Ah, the wonder of it. As a designer I’m often dismayed when products either exhibit beauty without function, or (shock, horror!) function without beauty! I am a self-confessed Apple addict; mainly because they have always shoehorned both into their brilliant products. The original iMac was a classic rebel; the PowerMac G5 and MacPro are stunning; the Mac Mini is testament to great things in small packages, but the iPhone…I’m sorry to be so bland but the first thing I said was ‘WOW THIS IS SO DAMN COOL’. Seriously. Words almost escaped me for days using this little beauty – I just kept telling people they have to try one, have to see how wonderfully simple and intuitive it is (and I should be on commision, so far a good handful of my friends have tried my iPhone and then went on to buy one)

    There are so many ‘little things’ that make it a slice of genius, and I’m discovering more all the time, despite the fact that it hasn’t left my hands since Nov 11th when I gave in and bought one (I wanted to hold out until Christmas when my current contract is up but alas I have no willpower.) I have to slightly disagree though, in that I’m finding the SMS interface pretty easy to use: the keypad is fine, and the spelling correction is indeed spookily accurate.

    Designers are always the harshest critics, trust me. And I am smitten. I cannot wait to see what Apple come out with next :-)

    On a side note, I wish that for once the world would cotton onto the fact that in photography MEGAPIXELS DO NOT MATTER A JOT. Seriously – it is the quality and speed of the LENS in the camera that makes the picture quality…a crappy lens that takes a bigger picture still takes a crappy picture! Please do not ever base a camera purchase on this false ‘fact’! Consult the venerable Rockwell at http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm for proof.

  41. mt says:

    I personally will not consider buying an iphone until the 3d version comes out, thank you.
    Mike
    The Conspiracy Review

  42. Javak says:

    Spent the weekend playing with “Android”, Google’s venture into the mobile world. The UI is surprisingly more like OS X than the iPhone, with Dock like menu on the home screen (sorry, “activity”), and Aqua-esque buttons.

    It highlighted, for me, the difference in philosophy between the two companies. Apple’s phone may have a lot of UI cleverness, but in terms of third party software development the system is stillborn. At the moment only web apps are supported. No JavaME, no Brew, just Ajax — with the dawn of the RIA Apple has decided to pin its hopes on a technology already cited by many developers as due for extinction. And I’m not holding out any hopes for the release of the SDK early next year. Steve Jobs has commented that the iPhone OS is basically a cut down edition of OS X. Great, except OS X app development pretty much has its own eco-system, with its own tools, its own languages (Objective C anyone?) and its own deployment architectures. It’s like pounds shillings and pence in a decimal world.

    And unlike JME, iPhone development requires your software be approved by Apple before it can go anywhere near an end-user iPhone. So that pretty much kills dead any hobbyist/amateur/Open Source market.

    First glace suggest that Google’s Android is very easy to write software for. With Java blessed as the language of choice, Android is open to the majority of coders. The architecture is component based, and very robust. It is actually a doddle to link applications (‘activities’) together, making it very easy to call on the power of, say, Google Maps within my app, or send arbitary messages between phones on the network via XMPP. And if the end-user doesn’t like Google Maps they can swap it out for some other mapping component instead. All the components are linked at runtime, and so can be swapped for alternatives by the user.

    From the viewpoint of the developer I see the iPhone as a closed system, very rigid, and very proprietary. Apple seems to live in its own little bubble, with its own tools, rules and conventions. It wouldn’t surprise me if they started documenting their APIs only in Esperanto. Google have basically provided a lovely box of shiny new toys, with a very simple and flexible (but familiar) framework for plugging them together, and invited the world to have fun and explore. Google looks forward to the coming of RIAs, Apple look backwards to Web 2.0.

    Mind you, final judgement must be reserved for when Apple finally part-open the iPhone and start shipping their SDK. But I’m not confident. :(

  43. vaughny says:

    I put this iPhone video on youtube a year ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_f-KK140vM

    Every other comment since it went up has been ‘there’s no 3G’ ‘camera is crap’ ‘it’s too big’ ‘can’t unlock it’ ‘no video camera’ etc etc. Who cares that it’s not up to spec when it looks the way it does?

    Oh, and there’s a cool robot video on my youtube profile as well. :)

  44. gcr says:

    Being incredibly shallow as to buying any new gadget I can afford, decided I wanted, for no specific reason other than to own one , an apple itouch. My mobile phone had a good camera and being tied up on a monthly contract had no need of an iphone.
    I love the look, the feel and the, although somewhat limited, features of it, I think I made the right choice as opposed to the iphone. It has internet capabilities, I can watch films, and use it as a traditional ipod.
    One thing, however, annoys me is the fact that itunes (America) advertises films to download at a reasonable price, yet UK itunes does not offer that capability, and I am not “allowed” to download from the US site.
    It would seem similar to the feature film issue that is inexplicable to me, why we still have to wait about a year before we get to see films over here. Strange.

  45. oboogie says:

    OK, so not quite two months since my last post, and I took the plunge. I love the damn thing. I’d marry if I could. Love.it. I think your post was the deciding factor. Thank you, Stephen!

  46. ennairea says:

    Despite your niggaling issues I still want one rather badly. *sigh* gonna have to wait till i get a new job though.

    This may not solve your text entry issues but with your love of gadgets I thought you might want to hear about it (if you don’t have one already). Its a laser keyboard, bluetooth device so you can hook up to your smartphones, and I assume other bluetooth ready devices. the one I found is not REALLY mac friendly but there might be one out there that is, if not it’s a cool looking bit of kit anyway!

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/dads/8193/

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