|The Washington Canard
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Sunday, January 25, 2009
THE PHASES OF THE iPHONE, OR: THE FALLS AND DECLINE OF AFORMENTIONED iPHONE
This post doesn't necessarily require an introduction, but here I am writing one so it would just be a waste of time to delete it now:
Phase One: iCame, iSaw, iPhone
Buy iPhone on the first day of its release, after much anticipation, and it works great, especially once I figure out how to type accurately at a deliberate speed on the touch screen keyboard.
Phase Two: The Dead Zone
That's right, a dead zone develops on the upper seventh of eight imaginary regions north to south on iPhone's face, and they replace it no questions asked; store pops out my SIM card and gives me a loaner until the replacement arrives in two days' time.
Phase Three: The Curious Case of the Case
Apple kind of screws over us early adopters by slashing the price by $200 or a full third, though eventually gives original customers $100 credit at the Apple Store to make up for it, with which I buy a plastic case that I use on and off for awhile until finally pretty much off, pretty much just for taking up too much pocket room.
Phase Three: iPhone Falling Out of Place
Attend Radiohead concert at Nissan Pavillion, epic for being Radiohead of course but also for the many inches of rain dropped on the venue that afternoon and evening, reducing the amphitheater to a muddy hillside and flood zone, where late into the show amid taking ill-advised photos I drop the iPhone briefly into the mud, after which for awhile every time I plug in the phone it gives me an error message stating that this accessory is not designed for use with the iPhone and would I like to switch to Airplane Mode so something unspecified yet bad does not happen, to which I answer no, and while I still occasionally see this message it's not really a problem.
Phase Three: You Can't Go Home Again
Drop my phone this time I think on the hardwood floor of my room, causing the next mechanical error: when pressed, my Home button doesn't register anything at all, which seems to mean that if I start using an application I can't stop using it unless I turn the phone completely off, which seems to be a pretty serious might-have-to-take-it-in problem until it becomes more responsive in a few days, and then for a period of weeks it sometimes doesn't respond at all or other times registers a double-click, which brings up the iPod application, which I then have to click back out of and that does usually work because more and more the Home button is registering single clicks more and more, so that pretty much works itself out, no major issue.
Phase Four: Partially Shattered Glass
Drop the phone this time on the main platform tile in the Rosslyn Metro on my way to work one morning, which is a bit more violent than occasional typical falls, and instantly I notice that the face of the screen is cracked -- but only up in the mostly non-functional glass-but-not-screen black matte corner which I instantly know will not greatly affect my usage as long as the internals are all OK, and in fact it's still playing my music at this point so hey, looks like I dodged a bullet, and sure it looks like hell but what have I had it for now, almost 18 months and well after the introduction of the 3G or second version of the iPhone so really it seems I can keep this thing operational even under occasionally serious duress because this thing really is pretty well constructed, and who cares if it's cosmetically damaged, if anything that's a badge of honor at this point.
Phase Four: Touch and Go
On my way to work then a few months later, I'm not even noticing how my earphones' cord is getting caught on my Eddie Bauer bag until it pulls the device all the way out of my pocket and clattering down to the tile at McPherson Square, where I watch as it finally comes to a stop not three inches from the edge of the platform, and as visions of jumping down to retrieve it from the tracks with three minutes to the next train thankfully exit I pick up my iPhone to notice that now the power button now appears flush with the body of the phone, meaning stuck in fact apparently permanently so, which seems to be a very bad state for the phone's usability, and indeed it is because whenever it goes to sleep it immediately starts to shut down, but then once off I suppose it notices that the toggling power button is engaged so it turns on, after which it gets to a certain point in the process where it notices the toggling power button is engaged so it turns off, and it does this in approximately 45 second cycles endlessly, until I plug it back in, whereupon it asks to be shut down and I say no, and it then alerts me for the first time in some time that this accessory is not designed for use with the iPhone, etc., so I choose no again, and it works fine as long as it is plugged in or stays awake after being unplugged, so now I've realized the way to keep this thing functional until the third iteration of the iPhone comes out in a few months (I hope) is that when I need to put it away, I'll put an album on (presently Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled) and set it to repeat then close out the iPod app (still running) to open the iLight app, which accepts no touch screen input and so harmlessly goes dark after a minute, but because it is still playing music it's not actually asleep, thus will not toggle itself off and on, and will come back to life easily by again touching the Home button, which this is better by far than just changing settings so the device never goes to sleep, as the battery is drained much faster displaying pixels on the lighted face than it is just playing music, so that will pretty much work if I just remember to do it, otherwise when I forget to do that I'll just have to wait until I can plug it in either at home or at work, both of which being places where I have docks that also recharge my two Bluetooth headsets, which why I have two don't even ask, though one once survived a trip through the washing machine and now also appears to have survived being momentarily dropped into a bucket of Pine-Sol last weekend, which by the way compares favorably with the $100 V-MODA headphones I bought a year ago and which have now failed on me four times, yet V-MODA refuses to give me a refund even though I've asked/demanded one vehemently starting the third failure but I've given up, and pair number five will arrive in the mail in another few days, but back to the iPhone itself basically I'm left wondering if maybe I'd save myself a lot of grief (though not money) and just got a 3G (the current phone, operating on the third generation of wireless networks) even though I expect the 3G (by which I mean third generation of the iPhone device itself) to come out by maybe July i.e. the two-year anniversary of my pre-replacement original but who knows what will happen when I drop it next, so really I could go either way at this point.
Photo of broken-but-working iPhones courtesy respres and thecameo on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons. Thankfully my iPhone's glass face is not so badly damaged as on either pictured, but it's what you can't see that's truly screwed up. To see my iPhone in earlier, happier and unboxinger times, see here.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
MUTING THE IMMUTABLE
I've just finished reading a book I picked up at Powell's Books over the holiday break: The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, written by father-daughter marketing team Al and Laura Ries. It's actually two books in one... or two concepts in one. The second half of the book is called The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding. I read most of the book in February, and the delay owes something to a discrepancy in my estimation of the two halves.
The first half, which unsurprisingly focuses on the brick-and-mortar world and general concepts of establishing a strong brand, is excellent. Rule one, The Law of Expansion, states:
The power of a breand is inversely proportional to its scope.The first example is Chevrolet, which they rightly identify as a brand without an identity. Why should the Malibu and the Silverado have the same hood ornament? What does either gain by being identified with the other? I've still never understood why GM stopped marketing the Metro as Geo, and made that another Chevy vehicle. The Corvette does not suffer from lack of identification with Chevy, just as Crest toothpaste does not suffer because I had to look up the fact that it's a Procter & Gamble product. And so on. Good stuff.
The second half of the book... a little more hit and miss. Here's part of the problem: It was released in September 2002. Therefore, the book talks up AOL as a success and mentions Google not once. It's not a total disaster; they're right that Monster.com is a better name for a job-hunting website than Business.com is for anything. But other sections are downright comical. Here are two of my favorites:
Apple Computer suffers from a lack of focus. It's the only major personal computer company that tries to market both hardware and software, including its own operating system. Hardware leader Dell Computer doesn't market its own software, and software leader Microsoft doesn't market its own computers.Ha. Dell has been sliding for some time now, and some are urging Microsoft to abandon Vista and start over on their next iteration of Windows. Meanwhile, according to Wired, the only way to explain Apple's staggering rise over the past decade is that Steve Jobs is some kind of evil genius.
A related rule about modern business thinking is that the drive toward "convergence" is wrong. Therefore, they say:
When asked by Fortune magazine what unique opportunities Compaq was looking at, the new CEO, Michael Capellas, said: "You'll start to see devices converge. Who in the world doesn't want to have their PalmPilot, their telephone, and their CD player all wrapped into one so they don't have to carry three things on their belt?"Um... right.
Still, they were right to mock Yahoo!'s "all things to all people" approach -- that's a company which is still very successful by most measures, but is nonetheless considered to be in crisis. But that observation is very clearly carried over from the first half of the book and the problems of Chevrolet.
At the risk of looking like a fool myself in a few years, I'll go out on a limb and predict the only immutable law of the Internet is that no prediction about the Internet and technology can survive five years or Apple, whichever comes first.