When I saw Steve Jobs unveil the iPhone at Macworld Expo in January, I was sure this device would be nothing less than revolutionary, extraordinary, and priced between $400 to $700. We’ll have to wait until the phone ships to figure out if I’m right about the first two assumptions, but I turned out to be instantly correct about the third: the iPhone’s announced price was $499 for its 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB one with a two-year contract.
With the iPhone’s release slated for next month, we’re getting closer to having to decide if we’re going to buy one. For me, the answer is no, even if it does turn out to be revolutionary and extraordinary.
Why not? Well, several reasons. And judging from a poll that Macworld conducted in the June 2007 issue, I’m not alone. We asked 597 subscribers via e-mail, “Do you plan to buy the iPhone when it’s released?” 52 percent said no, 21 percent answered yes, and the remaining 27 percent replied maybe. I’m sure the 52 percent in the no camp share some of my thoughts about the iPhone. Apple hasn’t sold us on the iPhone yet. And here’s why:
- It’s too expensive. While at the AT&T store the other day, I looked over the personal voice and data plans for a BlackBerry Pearl. A $40 (minimum) voice plan plus $35 unlimited data plan plus tax and miscellaneous service charges equals approximately $85 a month. If AT&T is consistent with its rates (which it most often is), the iPhone will cost just as much monthly. Add $500 + $64 (tax) for the phone, and that’s $1,584 for the first year of a phone with a weak digital camera that doubles as an iPod with puny storage capacity. And let’s not forget about that two-year commitment.
- It’ll make my addiction to the Internet even worse. Like many of you reading this, I spend a sufficient amount of time on the Web, so I don’t need an unlimited supply of it away from my computer. With a cell phone, I’d occasionally want to use the Internet to look up maps or the Muni schedule, perhaps. I certainly wouldn’t want to be chatting on AIM or checking e-mail while hanging out with friends. An unlimited data plan would tempt me to use the iPhone’s Internet on a frequent basis just so I can get my money’s worth. (And I’d like to think the purpose of having a cell phone is to go out and be social; not to be LOLing or BRBing when you’re AFK.)
- There’s too much at risk. Frankly, it sent chills down my spine when Steve Jobs concluded his iPhone presentation with the words, “It’s your life in your pocket.” Imagine if I left my iPhone in the backseat of a cab. Next thing you know, some embittered cab driver has stolen my phone—no, wait, my life —and he’s head-bumping to Sissy Wish while sweet-talking my 200 (give or take 199) gorgeous female friends, scrolling through my photo library and watching my downloaded episodes of Freakazoid . I don’t want that. Who in the world would want that?
- It offers too much—and too little. The iPhone’s built-in iPod would be excessive and useless to me. Like millions of people out there, I already own an iPod (video, 30GB). Its capacity greatly exceeds that of the iPhone; 8GB just isn’t enough to handle my awesome iTunes library. Furthermore, the iPhone’s meager 2 megapixel digital camera leaves me unimpressed—and I would probably never use it. I’m a proud owner of a 6-megapixel FujiFilm FinePix F30 ( ), which the iPhone’s camera can’t even compete with.
What would make me buy the iPhone? Having some options. A flexible data plan—perhaps one that charged by the amount of data transferred—would certainly be nice, allowing me to limit my usage while reducing monthly rates. In addition to that, if Apple offered a version of the iPhone sans the camera and iPod—that is, offered just the phone—for a few hundred dollars less, I’d probably be sold. After all, there are some things about the iPhone I find appealing, such as the visual voicemail feature and multitouch screen. But as it’s currently being marketed, the iPhone remains a device that aims so high—in price and design—that it’s out of reach and not worth reaching for, at least for me.