iPhone iDentity

Having previously used an XDA Orbit phone/gadget doofer, I'm still very much enjoying the honeymoon period with my iPhone. Despite (on paper) having less functionality than the XDA, the iPhone is simply a better device.

How can that be, you ask. Well, at a basic level, the iPhone is a joy to use. It invites actual usage by being full of 'ooo, ahhh' inducing eye candy as well as being simple to use. Ok, so it doesn't do MMS for example, but the mail client and camera are so well integrated that it's no effort to email pictures to people.

And it seems that it has provoked a shift in the industry too. I was reading about how Steve Jobs bullied the telecoms networks into giving him what he wanted (visual voicemail, iTunes activation etc) rather than the other way around. In doing so, he's shifted peoples perception of the networks. Think back to when mobile phones first became popular and there wasn't 100% coverage in the UK. The question people asked was what network you were with, not what phone you had. Nowadays, there's nothing to separate the networks other than their tariffs. They all offer the same things, SMS, MMS, voicemail, but simply shuffle the way they bill for minutes and sms messages. There's no other differential. (Is there?).

Then comes the iPhone, which focuses on the usage of the device. Who cares which network? (From a bigger picture point of view) All networks are now functionally identical. The point about the iPhone is the whole customer experience and not simply the technical capabilities of the device. I bought the XDA in an O2 shop. It was quite painful, involving waiting for an available minion then sitting down and dictating all my personal details to him while he simply entered them into the O2 intranet application, printed the forms and wandered off occasionally to pacify a shouty customer who was kicking up a fuss about his monthly inclusive minutes. It took over 20 minutes, not including the time to activate the phone, then the week to migrate the number.

Contrast this with buying the iPhone. From the same shop. I wandered in, sauntered up to the till and asked the young lady for an iPhone. She made sure I was aware of the available tariffs, and that I was going to be signing up to another contract. Yes I was, thankyou, and off she went to get the phone. I then paid and left. All in less than 5 minutes. Then, at home with a cuppa, I plugged it into the Mac. Up popped iTunes which then walked me through the process of selecting a tariff, entering my old mobile number (and sending a security code to it via sms to confirm), next, next, next, phone activated. Then, within the hour my existing mobile number had transfered to it and I was good to go.

I stumbled across Amazons iPhone site the other day, which is a version of their site specifically tailored for the iPhone. It seems that they are not the only ones. How many other phones have prompted website owners to develop versions specifically for it? A move made all the more noteworthy by the fact that websites render perfectly well in their normal guises on the iPhone.

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