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NY Times op-ed on the hate that dare not text its name: iPhone rejection


Considering that it's turned out to be one of the most successful products in consumer electronics history, the volume of nay-saying on the iPhone has been constant and ongoing -- many dismissed the phone when it came out, when it was announced, and even when it was just a glimmer of a hint of a rumor. Now the New York Times Sunday Magazine (and the accompanying blog The Medium) is featuring Virginia Heffernan's tale of hesitancy, anomie and frustration under the surely-not-meant to-draw-online-traffic headline "I Hate My iPhone." Interestingly, just pages away, the paper profiles several successful iPhone developers in a story about the App Store gold rush.

Heffernan's criticisms of the iPhone swing between the rational (the challenge of adapting to the on-screen keyboard, AT&T's mediocre coverage) and the surreal (dislike of the device's "tarty little face" and how it "kept aloof from the animal warmth of my leather wallet"). In fairness, she does admit that she's not thinking particularly clearly. In the end, she returns to the AT&T store where the sales rep seemed to know that she was a troublesome case, and swapped out her iPhone for a Blackberry.

It may be heretical to admit it here, but it's true: the iPhone is not for everyone... excuse me, they've come to take away my fanboy badge, this will take just a second. There, all done; I'm back.

Yes, if you're looking for a high-speed texting and email platform because you live your life in text messaging, the iPhone's keyboard will frustrate you; if you don't care about the incredible universe of apps, the first-rate media player and the best mobile browser, you'd be better off with a Blackberry and a permanent keyboard.

Yes, the iPhone's phone is probably its weakest offering, and the AT&T network has bigger dead zones than Anthony Michael Hall; if you can't tolerate the intermittent dropped call or fuzzy audio (or my personal top annoyance, the "I'm on 3G and my phone just doesn't ring" issue), and you want to focus on the phone, get a free RAZR or shiny Samsung.

In my personal transition from the Blackberry to the iPhone, I found plenty of gotchas and things that took adjustment (#1 is not being able to keep an IM application running in the background, #2 is having to cycle through the home screen to switch apps, and #3 is not being able to easily copy URLs or phone numbers for use elsewhere), but I'm still finding new and enjoyable things about the iPhone every day; my Blackberry was staid and predictable, a useful tool but not a spark of innovation or a way for me to accomplish things I never could do before.

I know there are thousands of unhappy iPhone users, and thousands more who haven't upgraded to the 2.x firmware, visited the App Store or explored one-tenth of the capabilities of their mobile computing platforms. When I saw a family friend a few weeks ago, a lady of a certain age, she was surprised and puzzled when I asked her where she synced her not-that-new iPhone ("I don't understand. If I want to put music or apps on it, I have to connect it to a computer? I have my grandchildren put photos on the phone for me!"). The iPhone isn't for everyone, and there's no judgement in that; you aren't obligated to love it, want it or find it useful. Forgive us, still, if we think that many of you (NY Times columnists excepted) will love it once you try it.

[Hat tip to Apple 2.0]

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