Just Two Phonies, originally uploaded by pinkyhonor.

Photo Cap:

Ruth & Earl Pinegar’s prize-winning costume at the Mad Art Ball of the Portland Art Directors Club. 11/23/1959. Photographer: Frank Sterrett. (I think pinkyhonor did some retouching and tidying up to make it more presentable).

So, after much hype, the iPhone finally goes on sale in the US today. It will be very interesting to see how it does. I have spoken to one or two tech-savvy people and it seems the jury is still out. Having an internal battery (as with the iPod) is one complaint. Another relates to the fact that proper Web browsing isn’t really feasible without 3G. And in the States, users are forced to sign a two-year contract with an AT&T network that is not reknowned for its speed.

If you are already sick of all the iHype surrounding the iPhone, you might want to look at ‘Five Reasons Not to Buy an iPhone‘ , plus an article discussing the absurdity of ‘technolust’ in the aftermath of the iPhone’s release in the States.

There may well be some issues but, personally, I think it’s a really lovely piece of work. From a design perspective, Apple has literally re-invented the mobile phone. I would still say it’s more evolutionary than revolutionary but, nevertheless, it seems to me to be the most impressive single leap in mobile phone design since the Nokia Cityman in 1987 – the world’s first hand-held mobile phone (click here for a pic).

Apple has created a device that, at a single stroke, makes all of its rivals – including ‘smart phones’ like the Blackberry – seem somehow ‘last millennium’. The iPhone’s software is seamless, the look and feel is right, it has a wonderfully intuitive touch-screen interface, it automatically connects to WiFi networks, it’s an iPod, it has a peach of a Web browser – the list just goes on and on.

It does make you wonder what the competition has been doing for the last 3 years. Apple has entered a new, highly competitive marketplace and now appears to be significantly ahead of the game. Apple is selling the future whilst everyone else is stuck in the past. No wonder the suits at Sony are punch drunk!

It’s easy to forget just how far mobile phones have come in 20 years. Back in the late-1980s, the batteries ran down almost as soon as you started talking, and the devices were so big that you needed specially designed coats to carry them around in. The Nokia Cityman, for example, was about the size of a brick and weighed 800 Grams – pretty much like carrying a kilo bag of rice around in your pocket, with an aerial poking out of the top. It makes one wonder what these devices will be capable of in another 20 years. I think the iPhone provides us with the first clear pointer.

Most of the people I know in the UK don’t really know what an iPhone is yet – the news has of course reached the digerati but not everyone else. For this reason, I thought it might be worth including a couple of links to some online material, for people who want a taste of what’s to come:

The new iPhone ads – to get a quick flavour.

Apple’s CEO going into a lot of detail about the iPhone, really good if you can get over that ‘Silicon Valley preaching to the converted self-congratulatory management guru rhetoric thing’. I recommend it though if you have 30 mins to burn at work and really want to know what this device is all about.

For us poor souls in Europe, we’ll be lucky if the iPhone is in the shops in time for Christmas. I’ve been avoiding mobile phone upgrades like the plague but I can already feel myself succumbing…

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