One of the first with a US iPhone 3G, one of the last to get to use it... my opinions

Yes, I was in line early in the morning in New York. I was actually number two in line. I could have been first at the 34th and 7th AT&T store, but I wandered to the 40th and 5th AT&T store instead where one person had their chair setup; being second but having someone to talk with worked for me. So here it is - 3:50am, I was second in line, and a third came running up, chair in hand. I had nothing with me but a Duane Reade bag (to put the iPhone in - I'm always cautious) and the latest James Patterson paperback in case my linemates were bad company. There were already hundreds in a line just 10 blocks north at the Apple store. Why people would wait for days on a line when less than 10 minutes walk away there was an empty sidewalk is beyond me. At 7:55 the store clerk came out with an activated 3G to let us play with. Everyone in the line was prepared; we knew full well there was a one per person limit and you had to pay with a credit card. We only wanted it to hit 8:00am so we could grab our Apple [s]sellout[/s] lovin’ goodness. By this time, our line had wrapped around the corner. At 8:00 on the dot we were guided in a few at a time. I was greeted immediately and my checkout began. No complicated upgrades or line additions - give me all new service. My 16GB showed up and was unceremoniously removed from its box and "enabled" - the device said "emergency calls only" until the AT&T POS station worked its magic. Each sales person had all the accessories at the counter so you didn’t have to walk around. It was quite well organized – or at least seemed to be. The disaster that followed was something that even Murphy in his best day would never have dreamt of. After getting back to my hotel, I found out that my phone was never really activated, the SIM was wrong, my account wasn't actually created, and a whole mess of other issues. In addition, the Apple servers were being dreadfully overloaded; software upgrades, re-activations of hand-me-down first gens, and new users clamoring to post their first blog were the culprits. Despite the iPhone still not being active on the network, I was able to do some configuration. In anticipation of an (eventually) functioning device, I setup my Enterprise account both with my company and on the device. It was amazingly straight forward on both sides - there is no special configuration. If your company has Exchange 2003 with SP2 it works. The iPhone looks like a Windows Mobile 6 device. After over 12 hours of waiting for AT&T and Apple to resolve all of their issues, at 9pm EST my iPhone reached consciousness. Finally after hours of re-activations and speaking with AT&T it went from [s]“you’re an idiot for buying this”[/s] "No Service" to “AT&T 3G.” I was then immediately greeted with a “please set your pass code” screen. I knew that my IS dept. was to blame, and I excitedly created one. Shortly after, all my e-mails, contacts, and calendar appointments started flying into my iPhone. I was amazed it worked, and completely thrilled. Finally, the Blackberry could be buried in my drawer with the Everex Freestyle and the iPaq 5600. The first thing I noticed was how EASY it was to use e-mail and calendar. It’s the little things that matter, like being able to read HTML e-mails with graphics. Like viewing rich-text mail with the correct formatting so you aren’t scrolling through lines of garbage. Like resizing graphics and text with the “pinch maneuver” so I can read the whole message. I got chills. The multi-tabbed web browsing was fantastic as well – every link I clicked on in an e-mail pulled up a new page, so I could browse all the pages without closing any. Here’s the summary so far: What I like: The 2.0 software – note this doesn’t require a 3G iPhone. Any iPhone, iPod Touch, or 3G supports this now. The Enterprise add-on capability actually makes this a real utility for any business person. I also like Apple’s style. For example, instead of “Accept, Tentative, Decline” for meetings it says “Yes, Maybe, No” – just classy. The interface for business functions – Apple got it just plain right. It kills the Blackberry. I was a beta user for the world’s first Blackberry – the RIM 950, and have been using them ever since. I went Windows Mobile and hated it, and have lived with (and loved) the Blackberry. The simple clean interface of the iPhone though; the clear screen and text, and the navigation and usage is something that I didn’t even know I wanted until I have it, but now I can’t live without. Web browsing – it’s absolutely perfect. Pages load well even in EDGE service areas and they are easily read. The ability to flip from widescreen to portrait is also nice. Multi-tabbed windows allow you to multitask like you always could with Firefox, IE7, and Safari. What I am impartial about: iTunes and media player – You don’t need iTunes installed on your work machine for Enterprise functionality… in fact you don’t need iTunes for anything unless you are using the iPhone for music and/or movies (which I am not) and to do software updates. You know that old laptop that you keep around for a rainy day? Put iTunes on that, and leave your work machine running freely without bloatware like ActiveSync, Blackberry Desktop Manager, or iTunes. I guess I am saying this is also a “What I like”… What needs improvement (note this is based on my limited experience): GPS needs work. It’s good as a toy or to get an address or phone number of something relatively close to you, but I wouldn’t rely on it for turn-by-turn. E-mail interface in my opinion should have both cut-and-paste and widescreen viewing capabilities. No external keyboard via Bluetooth or a cable? Really? A mini-USB connector would be nice, but most other manufacturers don’t use one either. Conclusion: Bye-bye Blackberry. Before the Blackberry fanboys (that’s an official word now, in case you missed the memo) start telling me about the Storm or the Thunder or whatever it is called, it’s still Blackberry. It’s the same OS, same desktop software requirements, same mediating server between Exchange and your device, and same non-Apple style. Also, the CDMA for me is a no-go. I travel to Asia so it’s GSM or die and I don’t want a SIM card that I need a separate provider for.

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