The iPhone's Lesson for the Industry

By Pedro Pereira  |  Posted 2007-01-10 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Opinion: The already-celebrated ease of use of Apple's new offering comes at an important time for the IT channel and industry.

Ya gotta love the moxie. While demonstrating Apple's new iPod-like phone, which famous pop music album did Steve Jobs pick to show off the gadget's features? "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Never mind that iTunes, Apple's online music store, which feeds the iPod, doesn't even carry Sgt. Pepper's. Or any of the Beatles titles for that matter.

Perhaps Jobs was trying to tell us something. Was he rubbing it in that Apple last year won the third of the Beatles' lawsuits against the company over the use of the name "Apple?" Or was Jobs reaching for the symbolism of it all? That just as Sgt. Pepper's revolutionized pop music in 1967, the iPhone will revolutionize mobile phones 30 years on? Sgt. Pepper's, after all, hit the stores on June 1, and the iPhone is scheduled for a June release.

What will all those eager users who discovered this week they can't live without this thing do in the next five months?

The phone caught my interest, but I'll wait till the prices drop and the capacity increases. Normally I wouldn't even consider a new gadget immediately upon release. But I am a fan of the iPod and OS X, and while my Motorola Razr is nice enough, it has some annoying flaws. I can't seem to flip it open without inadvertently touching one of the buttons on the side of the flap. My thumb often hits 3 on the keypad when I try to power down, initiating a speed-dial call to an aunt who, if she has caller ID, must wonder why I call all the time only to hang up before she answers.

By all accounts, Apple's iPhone is a user's dream come true. Much like the iPod revolutionized digital music players with its ease of use, the expectation is the iPhone will do the same for mobile gabbers.

And isn't that what technology should really be about?

The iPod and the Mac operating system have proven that using technology doesn't have to be a frustrating experience that brings out your inner Luddite. Apple understands something that most technology makers fail to grasp: Ease of use builds loyalty and, with it, market share.

The iPhone, with its features and intuitive interface, is going to change everything. And it couldn't have come at a better time. As "smart" phones that can handle personal and business applications, and provide Web access, replace cell phones, Apple comes along and delivers a phone that is truly smart, not only in the technical but also aesthetic sense.

The iPod turned a lot of users on to the Mac OS, and so will the iPhone. And though the Mac is not about to displace Microsoft's operating system dominance, users will grow to expect technology to be more and more intuitive. The Rubik's Cube approach to figuring out how to use an application just won't cut it.

Technology must be easy to use, not only for personal but also for business ends. As solution providers become more entrenched with their business clients in figuring out how to apply technology to meet business goals, the providers can be successful only if the applications and equipment are intuitive and do what they are supposed to do.

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If clients are constantly calling because they can't figure out how to make something work, the provider's job becomes more difficult. And for those providers with managed services contracts, the more the customer calls, the less profitable the customer becomes.

It isn't only cell phone makers that need to examine the iPhone frontward and backward to see what they can learn for their own offerings. The iPhone should be a lesson for technology companies in general.

And if the lesson is learned, maybe the iPhone won't just do for mobile phones what Sgt. Pepper's did for pop music, but rather for technology in a wider sense.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner. He can be reached at ppereira@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
























 
 
 
 
 
 

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