The iPhone has landed in the real world and at my house it's been more of a thud than a revelation. Will iPhone be an indispensable tool or a special-occasion gimmick? Find out how everyone's tech fantasy is squaring with one busy family's reality.
My iPhone and I got off to a bad start when I updated my software to be compatible with the new device. After updating syncing up, I initially thought that I'd lost the past five years' worth of e-mail that I have archived on my Mac. That made me feel like I had physically lost my own memory. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve that but in doing so the e-mail account sync with the iPhone was somehow undone. So now I have my mail on my computer but only one account on my iPhone.
I'll give Apple a pass on that one since all was not lost, and I can add the other e-mail accounts manually (not easy with the fingertip screen typing), but I mention it because my first iPhone interaction was associated with a sweaty, disorienting panic when I thought I'd lost my mail. My actual iTunes 7 update has been even more problematic. I rely on my 4GB iPod Nano on a lanyard as my workhorse "walking the dog" iPod. After updating to iTunes 7 and installing the software update for the Nano, I can't get it to synch manually. iTunes thinks I'm trying to put my whole library on the Nano when I am clearly not. I initially had this problem with the iPhone as well, but was able to get manual sync to work for it. My old Nano, no such luck, so now I can't put any new files on it. Since I typically upload new NPR podcasts every day to keep up on the news, this disconnect has neutralized the utility of my Nano.
And this is a problem because there is no way that the iPhone is going to replace my Nano for everyday use. One thing I have realized with the arrival of the iPhone is just how rough I am on my personal electronics. I want to be able to stuff my cell phone in my pocket, purse or backpack. I can do that with my Blackberry Pearl, but I feel intimidated by the iPhone, like a new mother afraid she'll drop her newborn baby. It definitely needs to be protected, handled gingerly, and above all, not lost in the shuffle of everyday life.
So, what's the upside? The iPhone is without a doubt a very cool, sleek invention and I am glad to have one. The video iPod feature is what has really gotten my attention and should be great for watching shows and movies on the move. But that is a special case. I typically multitask while listening to my iPod, and I rarely have time to sit down and just watch something. The Safari Web browser is also beautiful to read, but I can't see blogging on the little guy, so if I am traveling I will typically still need to take my laptop.
So it seems that the iPhone will not replace my other devices. Given that, I would have been just as happy with a wireless, Web-enabled video iPod that wasn't a phone at all. It's worth $600 to me but not $2500-plus over 2 years. Those monthly AT&T bills are really going to hurt unless I start surfing, e-mailing and calling a lot more than I think I will.(UPDATE: In the original post, I incorrectly calculated the cost of the iPhone. The estimated cost of adding an iPhone to my AT&T plan is closer to $1500 for two years: about $1000 for the service and $600 for the device.)