j.j. toothman

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Gruber Gets Us

An by “us”, I’m referring to my family.  In writing about the recent iPhone 4S announcement by Apple, John Gruber writes:

As for the argument that Apple has failed because the iPhone 4S, however nice an improvement overall, is not enough to entice iPhone 4 users to upgrade — so what? Normal people don’t buy brand-new $700 smartphones each and every year. In the U.S. they buy them on two-year contracts, and they don’t shop for new ones until their old contracts are over. So the iPhone that the 4S needs to present a compelling upgrade for is the 3GS, not the 4. And the iPhone 4S absolutely smokes the 3GS. It’s crazy better than the 3GS. 2009 3GS buyers who skipped the iPhone 4 — which I’m guessing are most of them — ought to be delighted by the iPhone 4S.

We saw the same criticism with the iPad 2 — that it wasn’t a compelling upgrade for existing iPad owners. In a way, those critics are right — the iPad 2 is not a compelling upgrade. But it wasn’t supposed to be — Apple expected iPad 1 owners to keep using the iPads they already own. Normal people don’t replace $600 gadgets annually — and they rightfully expect their $600 gadgets to remain useful and relevant for more than 12 months.

I read that and pretty much saw how my mind (and wallet) think when considering new Apple products.  I really don’t want to be an annual iPhone upgrade cycle.  So the iPhone 4S really should be compared to the iPhone 3GS in my purchasing decision making.

Similarly, there’s no way I’m dropping $499 every year on the latest iPad.  That’s just insane.  I can only hope that the next iPad product line iteration smokes the first generation iPad.  I still haven’t decided what the cycle should be for upgrading the family iPad.  My current thinking is $499 every two years seems a bit steep for what is not a critical piece of computing hardware within the household.  I imagine as Mason and Jude get older, the importance of the iPad will rise within our family.  In fact I expect them to have their own iPads as their primary computing device for school well before they have laptops or desktops.  Even when they get to the point of having to write reports and research papers, I’m thinking they’ll be more inclined to use another computer they have access to, such as at a library, instead of having their own tradition laptop or desktop.

Lastly, another great thought from Gruber is his comparison of the iPhone 4 design to the Porsche 911 design.  I think it’s spot on.

Apple pursues timeless style, not fleeting trendiness. This iPhone design might be like that of the Porsche 911 — a distinctive, iconic, timeless, instantly-recognizable representation of the product’s brand itself.

It’s iPhone Announcement Day!

It’s nuts how psyched I get by day of Apple’s press conference to (presumably) announce their next iPhone – or as I like to refer to the iPhone, Apple’s gateway drug.  There’s no question that a couple of years ago, the iPhone was THE phone.1 Before I had an iPhone, our household was void of any Apple products.  We were a technology family knee deep in Windows products. But then Keturah and I both got our iPhones and over time more Apple products have creeped into our lives. We bought the first iPad when it came out, the slowly lost control of it when our kids discovered it and quickly became proficient with it.2 Keturah bought the Macbook Air this past summer and I have to admit, it’s quite a nice machine.3 Even I’ve been browsing Mac Mini listings on Craig’s List with the intent on setting it up as media server in the living room.  Lastly, we’re in a new house and it’s only a matter of time before I fill the rooms with sound via Apple Airplay.4

So yes, I’ll be following the announcement online today and yeah, that sounds awfully silly.  But what can I say?  The iPhone was a life changing product that hooked me.


Some final random thoughts:

  • My iPhone 3GS is absolutely crawling to the finish line. I’ve pretty much pushed that device to its performance limits.  It’s either that or it senses it’s about to be passed down to a five year old and is rebelling.
  • I’ll still buy an iPhone 4S, but for some stupid reason of vanity, I want the new phone to be an iPhone 5.  I decided that I was going to put myself on a two year upgrade cycle with the iPhone5 I’d be even happier to be on the upgrade cycle that involved major product advancements instead of the feeling of iterative steps that the iPhone 3GS was and the iPhone 4S would feel like.
  • I really want NFC technology to be in this thing.  I’m ready to speed up the death of the plastic credit card.
  • The 64GB iPhone rumor doesn’t make sense to me in an era when Apple wants to be pushing iCloud.  Maybe I’m not understanding Apple’s iCloud strategy, but it seems like if content is stored in the cloud and streaming from the cloud, devices would need less storage not more.
  • An even crazier rumor is the one that the iPhone 5 is exclusively coming to Sprint.  In this scenario, it is speculated that an iPhone 4S comes to Verizon and AT&T while the iPhone 5 version drops only on Sprint, then the other carriers in early 2012. First, if this happens I’ll be pissed.  I’m not interested in switching to Sprint.  Since moving away from San Francisco, I’m actually pleased with AT&T iPhone performance.   I would expect some Apple fanboy revolt if this played out.  Actually, the only way it might make sense is a 64GB version of the new iPhone came out exclusively on Sprint.  Here’s why that might make some sense.  Apple has probably done enough research to realize that a 64GB phone isn’t necessary, especially with iCloud becoming a reality.  At the same time, they know some consumers always fall for the “bigger is better” type specs.  Their big questions are how much such a phone would actually sell?  Can they actually price it way higher? So instead they hedge their bet by getting Spring to pay $20 million to carry the iPhone and can up that price by giving Sprint exclusive right to sell an iPhone version (where the only difference from Verizon/AT&T versions is that is has more onboard storage)  they’re not actually sure anyone truly wants. If all that’s true, what a move by Apple.

  1. Even with all the Android phones out there now, it still feels like THE phone. 

  2. Actually, when we get the new iPhone, our old iPhones are being passed down to the kids – to be pseudo iPod touches –  and we’re hoping to bring the iPad back into our control. 

  3. Ordered on the first day it was available. 

  4. I tried doing something similar in the old house with DLNA. And let me tell you, that tech sucks. Never worked smoothly. Haven’t tried Sonos yet, but hear good things 

  5. Dropping a few hundred on a new phone every year just seems silly. 

The AT&T dropped iPhone calls problem. Definitely an SF thing.

I’m sure that no one will be surprised by this, but my opinion of AT&T iPhone service has changed dramatically since I left San Francisco. My iPhone is even more of a workhorse than it was before.  And it’s performing like a champ. I’m doing numerous 60-90 minute conference calls on my iPhone on a daily basis.  Once I did an hour long conference call while on the Acela from New Haven to New York.  During these calls, I’m putting my iPhone through its paces by surfing the Web, accessing info on the Evernote App, or other things sucking up the data stream.  And my call’s aren’t dropping.

Yes, this has resulted in heavy voice usage and the amount of minutes I’m using is skyrocketing.  This month, I would have been the victim of heavy extra charges on my bill if not for AT&T sending me a text message alerting me that I’m way over and I should change my data plan to compensate.  Thanks for taking care of me, AT&T!  I was especially pleased to find out that I could retroactively change my plan back to my last billing date.  Overage charges be gone!

It will be interesting to see how things change when I’m in metro Boston full time. 

Great GPS / International Space Station Idea

Can someone build an app that alerts me when ISS is in the sky above me based on my phones GPS location. Blackberry preferably.Mon May 17 23:05:10 via web

Just a great, great idea. I remember being in middle school and there was one summer when for 3 nights in a row, my friends and I would sit on the roof of someone’s house and watch the space shuttle travel across the sky. I haven’t done that since. Why? Mainly because I don’t know when to look up.

The final hours of My Treo 755 and the Palm OS

I have been a Palm OS user for almost a decade.  I had a first generation Handspring Visor back in 1999.  Then a couple of Palm handhelds.  When the Treo 600 came out, I jumped all over it – finally converging my phone and PDA.  And then I obtained an iPod and was back to carting two handheld devices with me pretty much wherever I went.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend 2007.  Keturah’s Treo was completely done for so we headed over to the Sprint store to get her an updated Treo 755p.  And of course while we were there, I couldn’t resist the temptation to upgrade myself.  But doing so meant locking myself into another two year commitment with Sprint PCS.  Looking back on it, it was probably a mistake.  The Apple iPhone had been announced and was about a month from being available for purchase.  But I had convinced myself that the first generation iPhone would be a mistake.  That it would be full of shortcomings and bugs.  Like being a new car model, I figured wait for the second generation.  After all the kinks are worked out of the system.

I was partially correct.  The original iPhone had plenty of shortcomings.  Slow network and no MMS to name just two.  But it was an incredible interface advancement.  I was also incorrect at the rate of advancement.  I never thought that two years later we’d be days away from a third generation iPhone.  I would be lying if I said I haven’t been suffering from gadget envy for the last 2 years. 

In fact, I’ve resisted the temptations to spend a lot of time playing around with the iPhones my friends have (and they pretty much all have them).  I know what a compelling device it is.  I know that it will unlock my realtime access to information and, equally if not more importantly, allow me to carry around one less device.

I made it.  Two years in a Sprint contract while the iPhone and the App Store have been leaving my Treo 755p sucking in its wake.  And in less than an day, I’ll be out of the mobile device dark ages with the fastest iPhone yet. 

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