Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lots of Hang-Ups With Apple's iPhone

A few weeks ago, people were camping outside of Apple Inc. stores to buy, or just get a glimpse, of the computer company's hot, new iPhone. This week, while visiting an Apple outlet, I walked up to an iPhone display and--without waiting-- took the product for a "test" drive.
At this store located north of Chicago, there was only one line and that was in front of the "genius" counter, where customers were queuing up to have their Macs and iPods serviced or repaired.
Now, I freely admit the iPhone is an impressive device, especially its ability to attractively and quickly display Internet sites, stock quotes, weather, email and a bunch of other electronic wizardry. But I won't be lining up to buy an iPhone now or in the near future.
Chalk it up to my own sour Apple experiences.
My discontent begins with a Mac computer that was purchased new a few years back from an independent Apple dealer. Right from the start, there were troubles with the computer's internal modem, which repeatedly failed to sync up with the Internet. Unable to fix the problem in a timely manner, the Apple dealer refused to service the computer unless I paid a hefty hourly rate. Instead, I took the Mac to an Apple store, which was nice enough to honor the warranty, but unfortunately never really solved the difficulty either, even after a couple of attempts.
That Mac has never been fully functional and frankly I've given up.
Then there are those ubiquitous iPods. My family has three, purchased over time and at escalating prices. The last one cost about $300.
The oldest iPod refuses to hold a charge. The newest and most expensive just had a hard-drive meltdown (which required the latest visit to the Apple store) and was replaced with a new unit. There was a problem with the middle child iPod too, but I just can't recall the specifics.
In every instance, Apple Inc.'s personnel has been very helpful and willing to go the extra mile to make their products work. It's just that all of this running to the repair center requires more time and effort than I care to invest in my computer and entertainment devices.
Which brings me to the iPhone.
Right off the bat, I've got concerns. First there's the price. $600???. That's a lot of skin in the game even for a "super" phone, especially when there's indications that Apple is going to soon introduce a less expensive version.And if my computer and iPod track record are any indication, the iPhone and I would be paying a few visits to the service center, which adds to my costs and frustration level.
Moreover, the iPhone is partnering with AT&T (previously known as Cingular) for wireless service. I was a Cingular customer once and it was not a joyful experience. Way too many dropped calls, bad connections and a recurring inability to make a call from my own home forced me to switch providers. Recently, one cell phone vendor said to me that Apple has the world's state-of-the-art phone, but the country's worse cell phone service provider. That sounds harsh, but you get the point.
I depend on my cell phone mostly for business. How can I buy a phone that links me to a service provider that I can't depend upon?
Finally, it comes down to personal preference. I find most of the Apple products are just too fussy to manipulate easily. The iPhone is another example of this dainty design.
Blame it on my short, meaty fingers or a growing lack of dexterity, but these products are loaded with so much stuff that a slip of the finger(literally) can complicate even the most elementary task.
Without a doubt, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has done a masterful job marketing the iPhone. But he'll have to wait long time before I get in line to buy one.

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