30 July 2008

I have crossed over to the dark side

OK. Hold on to your seats… yes… it's true… I have bought an iPhone

OK so I can no longer make fun of the Apple nerds that stood outside the Apple store for hours just to get an iPhone. Yes, I have succumbed to my unquenchable curiosity for gadgets and am now the proud owner of my very own iPhone 3G. I digress though. My story starts a long, long time ago… in a galaxy far, far… er… wrong reality… a long time ago…

Many years ago, Amy and I was using Sprint as our wireless provider. This was OK while we were living in the apartment, but when we moved to our home, we found that we were living in a dead zone for Sprint. We decided to change our service provider. I borrowed a bunch of cell phones, each with a different provider, from my coworkers and tested them from home. At the time, T-Mobile had the best reception at our home. As a result, we switched to T-Mobile. Of course T-Mobile's reception anywhere else in Indy was pretty useless. Without fail, driving down Meridian Street while on the phone was guaranteed to drop your call when you crossed 71st Street heading south towards downtown. Still, we remained faithful to T-Mobile for THREE years!

The straw that eventually broke the camel's back was when we received one of our bills. We had a $50 plan for two phones and 500 shared minutes. The bill came and was for $160! Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the majority of our calls were to just a few numbers. I was calling my buddy in Michigan, Amy's cell, Amy's work number and our home number. Amy was calling my cell, her parents' cells, my work, her friend in Lafayette and our home number. Surely we could save somehow?!

Since Alltel was advertising like crazy on TV in Indy, and because they had the "My Circle" where we could call unlimited to any ten numbers, I decided to give them a call. I was told they didn't provide any service in Indy. So if they're not providing any service, why are they wasting money on advertising? But, I digress... Then I decided to try the T-Mobile "My Faves" which would let us each have five numbers we could call unlimited. The phone call went like this:

Operator: T-Mobile customer service, how may I help you?
C: Hi. I'd like to upgrade our phone plan to include "My Faves".
Operator: Certainly sir. Can I get your wireless number?

Let me see... since I'm calling from my cell phone, don't you think their caller ID should already answer that question? The question should instead be something like "please confirm this request applies to phone number 555-555-5555". I won't even go into the fact that the computer had already asked me for my number even BEFORE I got to speak to the operator.

I grudgingly give them my number... Again...

Operator: Just a minute while I check your account... I show that you are using some older phones.
C: Yes, they're three years old.
Operator: Your phones are not "My Faves" compatible.
C: Huh? I'm not sure I understand what you mean.
Operator: Well sir, you need a phone that is "My Faves" compatible.
C: Are you saying that you need a special phone to use "My Faves"?
Operator: Yes sir.
C: But it's just a software setting in your system.
Operator: Without the new phone you cannot set your faves up.
C: I don't care that I won't be able to change the faves on the fly. I'm willing to set it through the internet.
Operator: But you cannot change your faves from the old phones.
C: I don't want to change it. I'll set it though the web site and be done with it.
Operator: You cannot do that.
C: So if I had a compatible phone, could I change my faves through the web site?
Operator: Yes sir.
C: Then why not with the old phones? It's just a software setting in your system for crying out loud!
Operator: I'm sorry sir, you have to have the new phones. I see that you're not currently under contract. If you sign a new 2 year contract, we can make you some very good deals on phones.
C: Fine. Whatever.
Operator: Please hold while I get the someone from hardware on the line.

Of course, just at that point, I was crossing 71st Street on Meridian Street, heading south. You know what that means, right? Tada! My call got dropped. I decided that was a sign. We just weren't meant to be on T-Mobile. Of course, the most amazing thing happens. They called me back! Have you EVER heard a thing like that?! Me neither. Just the same, I decided, since they called me back, that I would hear their proposal out. The conversation picks up with the hardware operator.

Operator: We can make some good deals for you with a 2 year contract.
C: OK, what can you do for us?
Operator: I see your wife is using one of our standard phones.
C: Yes, it's an old crappy phone.
Operator: With a 2 year contract, we can get her a new RAZR for free!
C: (Interested) OK, that sounds good.
Operator: I see you're using a Blackberry. (I had to use an old Blackberry because my other standard phone went on the fritz. Of course I just HATED that Blackberry)
C: Yes.
Operator: Well, with a 2 year contract, we can get you a Blackberry Perl for only $80!
C: OK, can you please make a note of these offers on my account. I will think about it and decide later.
Operator: Certainly sir.

When I got home, I decided to just check T-Mobile's web site to see what kind of deals I would be able to get as a new customer signing a 2 year deal because, well, essentially, that's what I would be right? I logged on and found:

•I could get a RAZR for free.

•I could get a Pearl for $90.

Mmm… so our 3 years of loyalty to T-Mobile was worth a whopping $10 to them! I have a word of advice for T-Mobile and any other company making "special offers" for their customers…


It wasn't hard to convince Amy either. She was pretty fed up with T-Mobile too so it was an easy sell. We had a choice of either AT&T or Verizon. The next day, Saturday, we were out and about doing shopping when, lo and behold, we drove right by an AT&T store. We decided to stop and check out their phones. We got into the store and Amy started looking at phones. I was planning on just getting a standard phone. The sales guy came over and asked me if he could help…

Salesman: Can I help you find a phone today?
C: Nope. My wife's getting a phone. I'm just getting a standard phone.
Salesman: Not even one of our smart phones?
C: I have a Blackberry and I HATE it. Besides, the phone I really want, hasn't been invented yet.
Salesman: So tell me about your dream phone.
C: OK, my dream phone would include:

  1. 3G wireless internet for best speed.
  2. GPS for location tracking and mapping.
  3. Exchange sync for my corporate email.
  4. Internet access.
  5. The ability to play my MP3s.
  6. Camera.
  7. Video camera.
  8. Slide out full keyboard.
  9. Navigation capabilities.

Salesman: Have you looked at our Tilt yet?
C: (Curious) OK… show me.

The salesman proceeded to show me the Tilt. I was very impressed with the Tilt. It had all 9 of my required features. I had looked at the iPhone earlier, but it didn't have #s 1, 2, 3, 7 or 8. The first 3 are pretty huge in my book, so I didn't give the iPhone another thought. I walked out of that store, a proud Tilt owner.

And then it started… Even though I installed a 4 GB memory expander card and even though I installed all my apps on the card and not the main memory, the phone began giving me messages about low memory… and the biggest frustration was constantly having to reboot the phone. Call me old fashioned, but I don't believe you should have to reboot your darn phone!

Over time, I fought against the need to reboot the Tilt by systematically uninstalling my apps from the phone. This continued until I could not uninstall any other needed apps at which point, I would reset the phone to factory defaults and start the process all over again. Needless to say, this got old… VERY quickly.

Then I was in Raleigh with Dustin and he started showing me what he does with his iPhone. That's something the sales guys at Apple and AT&T just don't have. The ability to truly relate what the phone can do to the person buying it. Of course, right at that time, the 2.0 firmware for the iPhone came out. Naturally, Dustin upgraded his iPhone as soon as possible. He was very excited about what the new firmware could do. I was sold after the following dialog took place…

C: So tell me. How often do you have to reboot your iPhone?
Dustin: (chuckle) Reboot my phone? I don't have to reboot my phone.

That alone was enough for me to take a new look at the iPhone. Of course, the new iPhone 3G provides the #1, 2 and 3 features that I wanted in a phone. There's no Video Camera, but that's not a really big loss. I'd miss it from the Tilt, but I didn't use it that much anyway. The iPhone 3G also doesn't have a Slide Out Full Keyboard, but honestly, I can count on one hand the number of times that I actually used that keyboard on my Tilt. So again, not that big a deal anymore.

Two weeks later, I was in Boston with Dustin and got to play with the iPhone 3G. I was sold. Then it was the mission of trying to find stock anywhere. I finally found an Apple store that had stock. After class, we went there and wouldn't you know it… I was the FIRST customer that got turned away! Bummer! The next day, the store had more stock. No 16 GB Black, but white for sure. Again, we went there after class. This time, I was Mr. Irrelevant. No matter. Even though I was the very LAST customer to get an iPhone 3G, I did get one!

I can happily say that I've had the phone for almost a week now and have needed to reboot it exactly ZERO times!

I'll say this. The more I use the phone, the more impressed I am with the attention to little details that Apple has put into the phone. It's amazing that little details make such a big difference in perception. Like I always say… PERCEPTION IS REALITY! All I know is, the more I use the phone, the more I'm pleasantly surprised… and the more I love it! I'll be posting my observations about the phone in weeks to come, including the apps I like. To be sure, the phone is not perfect, but it's hands down the best phone I've ever had.



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