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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.

Is this why Apple has been keen to keep the device out of reviewers hands until lthe Hype Cycle has completed the selling frenzy?

Will Unusable Keyboard Fuel Apple iPhone Backlash?
June 30, 2007 [General] | By Tadd Rosenfeld.


The inner technology junkie in me was in prime form yesterday when at 6:00PM eastern standard time, when the normal Tadd would have been enjoying a Friday evening off, I found myself instead tapping my arm for a vein at the local Apple store. I was joined there by perhaps 200 people, police, and Apple Store employees, many of whom had been there all day waiting for the imminent iPhone release. Some customers were giddy like teenagers on prom night.


Not wanting to wait in the daunting line, I asked an Apple representative if I could go into the store to play with the new device, because, "I didn't want to buy one."

"No," he said. "You have to wait in this [Disneyland foldback] line even if you want to try a Mac computer." I remember a similar line forming at a Louis Vuitton store in Manhattan when they released a newly patterned handbag to an equally vapid group.

"Thanks," I said. "I'll see how it looks after dinner." I walked away dismayed, unaware that the seemingly boundless energy, drama and hype would be over sooner than I expected.

Where did all the people go?
Apple store an hour after iPhone launch.

It took me an hour to down a frothy beer, salad and steak nearby, and return to a completely vacant storefront. The customers were gone. The remnants of hysteria were there-- trash on the ground, velvet ropes and Apple employees, who were now trying their best to direct people out of the "trying" lane and into the "buying" one.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you which lane I got in. I have a sweet device - a beloved Treo - and am not about to shell out $600 (with a new contract!) for an Apple WhyPhone without taking it for a lengthy test ride. Fortunately Apple had about a half dozen display models, plenty so that the half dozen prospects in the store could toy around without interruption, while Apple employees circled with questions like, "Ready to buy?"

"No. But I'm ready to report to the world what an unusable keyboard it has."

Calling the iPhone's on-screen keyboard the device's Achilles' heel would be to incorrectly insinuate that the rest of device is bullet proof. But I'll leave it to other pundits to point out the iPhone's inability to sync with Microsoft Exchange server and lack of support for third party software, which marries users to Apple's handful of unsophisticated built-in programs.

The real problem is that you can't type a simple e-mail, text message or calendar appointment without suffering the maddening frustration of a carnival game that can't be won, and without getting the screen oily with sweaty thumb dirt. It's the loop toss of data entry -- you will never win the big bear.

The device has "predictive text," meaning it guesses at what you are trying to type. But unlike the remarkably accurate predictive text on RIM devices, Apple's software frequently misses the mark. Typing is so frustrating that you find yourself watching the predicted text hopefully, and reaching for the return key as soon as possible to paste it in. The problem is that you are as likely to paste the wrong predicted text as you are to to mistype a character.


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So back to the question posited in the headline: will there be a backlash? I think so. The difference between an iPhone and a real smartphone is similar to the difference between Apple's defunct Newton (shown above) and the original Palm Pilot-- data entry is why Apple's product flopped and Palm's, Sony's and other manufacturers' devices succeeded.

Perhaps the amount of backlash will depend on exactly how tasteless consumers are. The device looks pretty, and it plays music. The interface is cool. But anyone who wishes to edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel files, type text quickly and communicate it over a high speed network, or enjoy third party programs, would be well advised to save the considerable expense and go with a Windows Mobile device instead.

Posted on Sunday, July 1, 2007 2:57 PM C500/C600 SmartPhone (or replacement) , Real Cool Stuff | Back to top

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