Wrong about iPhone? Not him. 'The article was prescient'

Writer Brett Arends defends his 2007 criticisms of the first iPhone


With Friday being the 5th anniversary of the public release of the iPhone, I contacted a number of pundits who prior to that event had predicted that Apple's new gadget would be a failure, a flop, or at least hugely disappointing.

Their 2007 predictions and their replies to my question - "What do you have to say for yourself?" -- are featured in this slideshow:

(They predicted 'The iPhone Will Fail')

However, a number of the replies would not fit the slideshow format, so I thought it only fair to give them room enough to breathe here on the blog. This one is from financial writer Brett Arends, now of The Wall Street Journal and addresses this 2007 column he wrote for The Street. I flagged that column largely for this line: "The iPhone isn't the future. It isn't a revolutionary mobile device ushering in a new era." Arends responds:

Regarding my iPhone piece, I must point out that over the past five years it has been vindicated. The article was prescient.

It was written in June 2007, when the initial iPhone was released. People were lining up around the block to pay $500+ for the new products. I said I didn't want one. I criticized it for what I considered five big flaws. And I went five for five: Apple later addressed all of them, along the lines I had suggested.

Flaw #1: It didn't let you make free phone calls over wifi using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). At the time I was already a heavy user of VoIP on my smartphone. I thought its exclusion from the iPhone was a flaw. Apple later introduced VoIP, and it is very popular.

Flaw #2: It was overpriced. The original phone cost $499 or $599, plus tax, plus the contract. Was I right? Apple slashed the price within months and has continued to do so.

Flaw #3: Users were tied to one network. They couldn't get it unlocked. This was a particular problem for anyone who used it while traveling abroad, as roaming fees were and are extortionate. The iPhone is now available on most networks, and unlocked.

Flaw #4: It has third party apps. I think everyone has forgotten this. These days iPhone users swear by their dozens or hundreds of apps. But the original iPhone didn't offer them or even allow them (except for a few limited ones running through the browser). It was ridiculous. If my memory serves me correctly, users who "jailbroke" their iPhones to install apps actually risked getting their phones "bricked." At a time when other smartphones already offered hundred of apps, it made little sense. A year later, Apple introduced apps and the rest is history.

Flaw #5: You could only "sideload" media from your computer. Once again, I think everyone has forgotten this. When the iPhone was launched you couldn't use it download music, video, podcasts etc over the air. It was a bizarre flaw, and way behind many other products. As I noted in my article, lots of smartphones could do that. Later Apple changed the iPhone so it could follow suit.

Like I said, my article was written in 2007, criticized the original iPhone, and I am five for five.

If you came to this post from the slideshow and want to return, the next slide is here.

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