Paul Kedrosky in the Wall Street Journal knows why people are excited about the iPhone.
He says it's not that Apple has slowly allowed little tidbits of information about the device to come out.
I am hard-pressed to think of a single material feature in the product that wasn't announced six months ago, right down to the nifty new way you can scroll through songs.
Actually, the Macalope can think of two without even going to the iPhone product page: the 8-hour battery life and the YouTube player, so there might be some merit to the slow bleed of information theory.
But he agrees that it's not because of any grandiose marketing by Apple.
So, why the iPhone hype?
I'll tell you. First, people hate their cell phones. Other than making phone calls -- a downright dreary bit of business -- using phones for Internet, entertainment and pretty much anything else has been abysmal. Cell phones are best characterized as crippled, paternalistic devices best suited for people who think straitjackets are comfortable evening wear.
This is an argument the Macalope has been making since before the iPhone was even announced. It appears to be less the case in Europe and Asia but in the U.S. at least the cell phone animus runs deep.
But in addition to hating their phones, people hate their cell phone carriers. Hate, hate, hate, hate. The major cellular providers -- with their ham-handed "support" and fascist control of software that can run on phones directly -- are right up there with the IRS in terms of inspiring your average mobile phone user's disgust and loathing.
To such consumers, Apple's iPhone seems like a cool drink of water. These people want to be liberated either from bad phones or from bad phone companies. They want to choose a device that does all the things they want to do -- calling, being entertained, consuming information -- not all the things their phone company thinks they should do (and then be charged $5 a month per feature for the privilege).
Indeed. Just look at what Apple's going to do for activation. This has never been about the specifications of the phone and that's where so many silly pundits have gotten it wrong.