iSight (or the times I love technology)

I’m looking forward to the UK launch of the iPhone today. Not for myself you understand. After all, I’m a dad with two young daughters – there there is no way I can justify or even afford such an indulgence. I’m looking forward to it because its going to be one of the times when the world changes slightly for the better.

Ok so this might sound like bigging it up a hell of a lot. A phone, however nice can’t change the world. For me however that is exactly what the iPhone is all about. Technology solving an existing problem in a new way – taking a fresh look at what a phone should do, or be, and making it easier slicker and more fun.

For most companies  the most profitable answer in the short term is almost always to copy the technology everyone else is producing. A tweak here and a tweak there but essentially no imagination. As a customer this drives me mad. There is no choice just lots of identical boxes each pushing a tiny advantage over the other but none of them offering anything new.  That’s why you need companies like Apple out there continually changing the game.

As an illustration I’ve got a very nice Widows Mobile phone. I use it all the time and I am very happy with it. Looking at it as as either a computer or a phone however the interface is completely brain dead. It is still trying to solve what it does the same way as its predecessors:

  •  The handwriting recognition is essentially the same as my old Newton Message pad,
  • The display interface with sliders and check boxes which is far better suited to a larger screen where you’re using a mouse.
  • Even little things don’t make a lot of sense. It takes at least three clicks to lock the phone.

 What Apple do and do brilliantly is answer the question what is the job this technology is going to do and what is the easiest way to do it and then build the kit to match.

This comes at a price – unfortunately one too steep for me personally. I know that  lots of other people are already flocking up to buy one however. People enjoy owning something that has been built as one crafted whole. Something that simply does what it says it will do without any fuss. That means that lots of technogeeks will find they can make phone-calls, listen to music, watch videos far better than they used to. Theywill bore their friends with their scrolling, stretching self adjusting displays to the point where a whole different buch of people get fed up with what the old technology allows. 

In 12 months the iPhone shuffle will arrive along with all the clones that every other company is bound to bring out. Many more people will be queuing up. As a result soon everyone will be finding it easier to make phone-calls, listen to music and have a less frustrating relationship with their technology. That has got to be something worth celebrating. 


East Lothian dad. Likes bad jokes and comic songs. Mostly tired, tries to stay cheerful. Thinks space is awesome. Would like to write more code and better docs.

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