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ATPM 13.07
July 2007





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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Christopher Turner,

The Hunt for an iPhone

For me, the hunt for an iPhone began two and a half years ago. Two and a half years ago? you might be thinking. What is Chris smoking? The iPhone wasn’t even announced two and a half years ago. You’re right. But what happened two and a half years ago was that my Sony Ericsson T616 was starting to fail. It was dropping calls, and this wasn’t because of Cingular’s service. The Bluetooth was failing to stay connected with my headset. The phone was dying, and I needed a new one.

My hope was that under my phone insurance plan that I could get a SE T637, the at-the-time replacement for the T616. Alas, the insurance provider had no Sony Ericssons to offer, so I was given a “feature-compatible” phone, a Motorola v551. It was hate at first use. The user interface, and especially the address book, really stunk it up in comparison with the T616. And the keypad felt second-rate, too.

In the intervening time, the v551 failed, and was replaced by a v557, which was in use until Friday, June 29, 2007. That date may mean something to you, since it was the release date for the latest from Disney and Pixar, Ratatouille.

Oh, and Apple happened to start selling the iPhone that day.

Back in late December, I was about the pull the trigger on a new Sony Ericsson phone. However, a friend who closely monitors the mobile phone biz hinted that I should at least wait until Macworld Expo in early January. “Just in case.”

So Steve announces the iPhone, tells us it’s coming in June, and my wait for a new phone increases by six months. When you’ve waited two years, what’s another six months, right? Well, when you know what’s awaiting you at the end of those six months, it can be as torturous as the previous two years!

Needless to say, the morning of the 29th saw me pretty antsy, but unlike thousands across the country, I wouldn’t be camping in line outside an Apple or AT&T store. No, I would be taking care of the lawn maintenance for the homestead. You see, I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and Friday the 29th was the first day in ten that we didn’t have any rain. (We were set to beat a record for June rainfall that’s stood since the 1920s, but ended up falling short by four-tenths of an inch.) So a good chunk of my day would be spent edging, weed-whacking, and mowing.

However, the mower did require gas, which required a trip to the gas station, which led to a roundabout drive past the local AT&T store: already about seven people in line. No problem, I thought.

Problem. By the time I was able to get away from my husbandly and fatherly duties at home, it was 9:00 PM. The AT&T store was open until 10, but they were completely sold out of iPhones. A call to the Southlake Apple Store revealed they were out of 8 GB units, but still had plenty of 4 GB models. I went to the next closest Apple Store on my call list, the one at Willow Bend, and this time struck gold. Plenty of 8 GB units, a good number of people in the store, I was told, but no line.

I arrived at the store about ten minutes to ten, and without any hesitation, walked right up to the counter in front, telling the young lady behind it, “Eight gig me.” She laughed, reached down, and came up with an iPhone box in her hand. She used a handheld register to check me out, offering me the option of printing a receipt, or having it e-mailed to me. I went with the e-mail option, more for the novelty of it than anything else. The message was in my in box by the time I got home.

I briefly wandered the store, amazed at what the staff hath wrought earlier in the day, when the store was shut down. All of the art and photographs on the side walls had been replaced, with every panel featuring the iPhone. It seemed just about all of the product islands, normally reserved for MacBooks, Pro and regular, iPods, printers, and hard drives, had been overhauled to feature iPhones, iPhones, and more iPhones, and there were people gathered at each and every one.

So that was it. No long hours spent waiting in line. Just a couple of phone calls and about an hour’s worth of round-trip driving. My hunt was over, my game bagged, so all that was left was to head back to camp to dress it. Er, head back to the house to activate it, as it were. While the activation process wasn’t as short as it’s been for some, it certainly wasn’t as long as it’s been for others. It took about fifteen minutes, and the phone I’ve waited two and a half years for was live.

Watch for a full review next month in the pages of ATPM!

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (5)

Grover Watson · July 3, 2007 - 16:54 EST #1
It seems you were in dire straights for a phone and I hope the latest offering from Appple suits your needs.
I am in the middle of a two year deal from Verizon, and my V3 RAZR and My LGVX7000 are running perfectly.
Unlike you, I was waiting for an iPod from Apple with a larger screen and perhaps a wi-fi browser and 80-100 gigs of storage. Steve seems to have ignored the iPod user's needs this time around and entered an already crowded handset market.
But , for people like yourself, this could be a good answer if Steve doesn't wait six months and release
a better product with features that blow the first one away. Bring on the 6G iPod!
Given past behavior @ Cupertino, this is exactly what's going to happen. As my current wireless deal has two years left on it, I'll wait and see if Apple eventually releases an unlocked version of the product, ups the storage, and endures the howls of protest from the early adopters who will be chained to the first version of the iPhone if they are not willing to pay an outrageous fee to escape the deal.
I was thinking of buying one for my October trip to Thailand, but since the phone only works on AT&Ts
domestic network( or their $$$ expensive World plan) with the supplied sim card ( no swapping for a cheap local card) and has only 8GB of storage, my $600 would better spent on shopping, food and cold beer. The mandatory activation through AT&T is a deal breaker for me too. without it, the iPhone is an 'iBrick', as all features are locked off. I thought I was doing business with APPLE, not AT&T.
No early adoption this time. Way too many negatives here for this Mac Fan. I've been through 7 iPods and a very expensive 22' studio Display so this guy will wait patiently for now and watch the web for some outrageous iPhone story. I love ya, Steve, but this time I vote with my feet.
Grover Watson · July 22, 2007 - 12:31 EST #2
I'm a bit discouraged. I was hoping my comments posted here on ATPM would have sparked a lively two way discussion on Apple hardware. God knows I'm not the only person with a take on the iPhone and I was hoping for some intelligent debate on the merits and shortcomings on the latest device from the 'Gods' ...err, Superstars of computing from Cupertino. I firmly believe that the MAC community is the most free-thinking bunch in computing today but my post has been up for nearly a month now with ONE comment?
Perhaps the the 'community' could use an enema? A mental one ? Come on, guys! Give me a good counter-opinion and I'll consider it.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 22, 2007 - 13:04 EST #3
Grover - There's no such thing as a MAC community that I'm aware of. Oh, perhaps it is the Mac community you speak of. Or do you truly belong to a group of people who hold conventions talking about the wonderful world of hardware networking addresses? :-p
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2007 - 12:15 EST #4
Grover, just wait until the iPhone review hits next month! (September)

Normally, I try not to buy first revision products, and yet the last two purchases I've made from Apple have been 1.0s. First there was the 20-inch iMac with the new Intel Core Duo processor, and now, the iPhone. No problems with the iMac, and I'm hoping none with the iPhone.

As for revisions to the iPhone coming faster than say to a desktop machine or laptop, I'm not worried, though I'm sure there are some iPhone owners who might be. I wanted a new phone that did a lot more than the phone I had, and the iPhone as it is right now meets those needs. (And in some ways, exceeds them.) I've always been a proponent of buy-what-you-need-now, and that's what I did with the iPhone.

You are correct in that the mobile phone market is crowded, but it was just as crowded with Motorola debuted the Razr, and look at how that took off, even when it was tied to a single carrier. I know lots of folks with Razrs, so I'm familiar with the phone, and I can honestly say the iPhone blows the Razr away in terms of usability. The iPhone may not have every tech feature that other smartphones/media phones have, but, much like with the iPod or the Mac, it's the overall user experience that sets the iPhone apart from other mobiles.

You will not see an unlocked iPhone before the original two-year deal with AT&T runs out. That's why there's a two-year deal with AT&T.

The iPhone's certainly not for everyone. It is complete overkill for folks like my parents, who have a mobile phone, but don't even turn it on unless they're on the road. If you don't think it fits in to your tech needs right now, that's cool.

Thanks for reading ATPM!
Grover Watson · September 6, 2007 - 14:25 EST #5
Fast-forward to 9/6/07. Yesterday, Steve Jobs introduced a a new line of iPods with something called an iPod Touch that looks an awful lot like an iPhone. He also lowered the price of the iPhone by $200 and axed the 4GB model from the lineup 8 weeks after it was introduced. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Early adopters always take it in the neck.

However, Steve did offer a refund in the price difference for purchasers in the last 14 days and a full refund if the product was returned unopened.

The Shareholders may be pissed, but Steve, you're back in my good graces. Put me down for two new iPods, please!

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