More of my sites

WinInfo Daily News
SuperSite for Windows
Windows IT Pro Magazine
Connected Home
Thurrott Dot Com
Windows Weekly at TWIT

About this site

For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First iPhone reviews are in

I once saw REM in concert in support of their Green album, and they opened the show with "It's the End of the World as We Know It" and "Stand," which were its two biggest hits to that date. Michael Stipe sang the songs with his back to the audience and when they were over, he turned around and said, "Now that we've gotten the MTV stuff out of the way, we can actually start the show." We're seeing the iPhone equivalent of that this week, with all the expected Apple fans at high profile publications publishing their early Apple iPhone reviews. Here are three obvious examples listed in order by their stature in Steve Jobs' rolodex:

Steven Levy:
A couple of weeks ago ... had an opportunity to give a good workout to something I had received the previous day: a review unit of Apple’s eagerly awaited (boy, that’s an understatement) iPhone. One of the most hyped consumer products ever comes pretty close to justifying the bombast. Apple has a history of using cutting-edge technology, slick design and friendly software to break the common logjam in which our machines have the capability to perform certain tasks, but developers haven’t figured out how to make the experience easy, even pleasurable, for users. That’s one reason why people, especially the tens of millions who love iPods, have been so eagerly awaiting the iPhone.
Walter Mossberg:
We have been testing the iPhone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions.
David Pogue:
I’ve walked around with an iPhone in my pocket for two weeks ... As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it’s flawed. It’s substance; it’s style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones.
Why highlight these reviewers? First, all three reviewers quoted above went to great lengths to explain how long ago they received the devices, which does more to separate Us from Them then it does to establish any sort of reasonable experience on which to base a review: You get the feeling that these guys wrote most of their reviews before they even had the iPhone. Second, while each did a commendable job of pointing out problems, especially Pogue and Mossberg, each also hit and then exceeded the Apple-required number of superlatives. That should make anyone nervous, given the expense and important of the iPhone.

I think the true story of the iPhone will be told in the coming weeks as real people, not those who seem interested in furthering Apple's brand, get their hands on the iPhone. I'm looking forward to using an iPhone. I'm looking forward, too, to seeing what real people--not Apple sycophants--think about it too.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: When it comes to something complex and life-changing like the iPhone, you can't just review it like an MP3 player or a revision to Hotmail. You have to really use it, and do so alongside competitors, and do so over time, to put it in perspective. (As I did with my Windows Vista review, incidentally. You just don't want to screw something like that up.) Complex products require more thought, and more time, and aren't amenable to shipping deadlines. The truth of the iPhone will be told in the coming weeks, not right now. We need a review that forgets the hype instead of wallowing in it.

Labels: ,

[ Posted at 8:16 AM | Permalink ]


Nexus Home | Nexus Archives | Email Paul
Copyright © 2001-2008 Paul Thurrott. All Rights Reserved.