over 10 years on 2008-05-01


the iphone continues to simultaneously massively disappoint me as a device and yet prove its overall value by teaching me interesting lessons about consumer behavior and how people live with technology. the two that have been most shocking to me was 1. how much chargers matter and 2. why all these 'top friends' applications are so popular.

1. one of the best things about blackberries is that they charge off of the almost ubiquitous mini-usb. this means that almost wherever you go someone has some sort of power charger you can use (from their laptop, camera, something). the iphone is exactly the opposite. as with most things apple, it is proprietary to the point of being downright humorous. when i first got the new device one of the things i was most impressed with was the design of the power adapter. it is both gorgeous and super compact.

the problem is, apparently, it is the only adapter that will charge the blasted thing. last night on my way out the door for a trip i accidentally left the charger at the office. i felt a little silly, but figured that i would be able to find a charger without too much trouble. i assumed that one of the myriad of ipod chargers my girlfriend and i have accumulated over the years would work since the physical port on the iphone is the same size. silly me, of course apple has found a way to block the backwards compatibility so that not only do several generations of ipod chargers fail to do the test, but even the bose speaker doc fails. i was, needless to say, quite annoyed, and went down to a convenience shop to see if i could buy an 'iphone' charger as opposed to an 'ipod' charger. i easily found a third party relatively cheap looking device that advertised that it would charge iphones. but, after purchasing and trying the device, i realized that it only charges the first generation of iphones, not this newfangled second generation. so, i am out of luck until i find an apple store (not the easiest thing in the world to come by). because the third party accessory manufactures have not yet had time to respond and apple intentionally locked the device against all legacy chargers my iphone is now a useless shiny pebble and i have switched my primary sim card to the blackberry. if i were att i would be extremely pissed off about the millions of hours of talk time apple's power charger policies are going to cause them. devices are only as useful as the availability of power.

2. the 'top friends' applications on facebook are far and away the most popular applications on platforms like facebook. this never made any sense to me. i never had the urge to enumerate my top friends or put them in their own little circle. but i now think that part of the reason people enjoy these apps so much is that they are used to really slow and clunky phone interfaces. as i have started using the iphone to make calls i have been very very disappointed with the speed of the interface, especially when trying to search the address book to make calls. the interface is sufficiently slow that i realized that i started adding a few people to the speed-dial list built into the phone. only to realize that the peed-dial was designed and feels much like those 'top friends' applications. so, my new hypothesis is that these 'top friends' apps are as much hacked shortcuts for slow search functions as much as anything else.


original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010