Well, now isn't that ironic? After months of rumors, online chat and pontification by Steve Jobs, turns out the iPhone is a very expensive bundle of i-HYPE. What do I mean? Well, let's compare the $500 iPhone unit from AT&T with a Blackberry (running half price) or even a Treo:
What does iPhone do well? A few very neat things:
- Great display
- Cool menu; very nicely organized
- Zoom, scroll and navigate using fingertips on a touch-sensitive screen (no more wheels or buttons)
- Very powerful video features and clarity
- Integrated web browser that can re-orient widescreen: plus integrated YouTube, Google Maps,
- 8 GB of memory (for $600) but 4 GB in the $500 model. In other words; it stores LOTS of music.
- It switches to WiFi so you can surf HIGH SPEED at Starbucks or free WiFi Hotspots
- iPhone WILL synch with Outlook - I you connect it to your computer using a USB cord
What doesn't the iPhone do that a similar PDA/webbrowser/email/MP3-playing Treo or Blackberry will do?
- iPhone is stuck on EDGE, the SLOW cellular network, compared to other carriers' 3G FAST network
- iPhone can't replace the battery - so if you want a second backup battery or longer life, no luck...
- iPhone doesn't accept STANDARD headset jacks; so you'll need to get an adapter for stuff you already own
- iPhone doesn't support EXCHANGE based mail - only IMAP and POP3; so you can synch your email but not your other data wirelessly
- iPhone doesn't have the ability to change SIM cards (switch providers) or add extra memory (SD Media)
What doesn't the iPhone do that a cheaper $50 phone COULD do?
- My cheap $50 phone can send PHOTOS by SMS (message system) to other cheap phone users. iPhone cannot.
- My cheap $50 phone can replace the battery with bigger, better, newer batteries - or just a backup battery. iPhone cannot.
- My cheap $50 phone can record voice memos for myself - or at least let me type a simple task list. iPhone cannot.
- My cheap $50 phone features "voice dialing" so I can speak the names of contacts in my list and connect to them. iPhone cannot.
- My cheap $50 phone can download MILLIONS of custom ringtones and tunes to customize my ringer. iPhone cannot.
- My cheap $50 phone comes with INSTANT MESSAGING software for AOL/YAHOO/MSN. iPhone does not.
So the iPhone is really for kids - who want to store and show a lot of photos or play lots of music. But it fails miserably to tap into the things kids like to do the most - like TAKE photos (it has a miserable 2 megapixel camera while most phones are sporting twice or higher resolutions than that). And what - NO INSTANT MESSAGING??? You gotta be crazy, Jobs! Ok, so let's just stop there. It's not even my MAIN POINT. Really, So the phone is really badly designed. Fine. That happens - can't say lots of other tech companies haven't blundered as badly in their pasts.
The Real Point
For months, people held their breath, hoped for a super solution to the "woes of cellular phone usage", and waited hours in the rain, sun and heat to be first in line to get one. And then they opened the box and POOF, it was all a pipedream solution.
All they did was trade one set of restrictions from their older phone for another set of restrictions on their new iPhone. Their "magic bullet" technology didn't really save them from anything - easier web browsing, but no photo messaging? Better screen, but no corporate email support? None of it makes sense.
This happens to us in real estate all the time. A super-duper-wooper new something-or-other is being hailed by someone as the "fix all" for your listing presentations. Or it will supercharge your online marketing. Or it will instantly convert leads into sales. Or some other snazzy promise. And we fall for it all the time. I watch hundreds of REALTORS shell out MUCH MORE than $500 at the trade shows every year. They end up leaving with bags full of cd's and books and tapes and technogadgets. And within a week or two later, where are they? In the corner, on top of the pile of stuff from last year. The agent has gone back to (sometimes gone WAY back to) the "old way" of doing something. Sticking labels on postcards. Sending photos to MLS to be scanned and uploaded days later. Printing CMAs for their next listing presentation. Yuk, yuk, yuk.
So, what can we learn from the product some were comparing - even advertising - with pictures of religious figures in the background? Well, "pride go-eth before the fall" perhaps. I think Jobs took it for granted that because iPod was so right, iPhone was too. Maybe he had never worked with AT&T before - a company known for innovation the way cream of wheat is known for its taste. Or maybe Jobs forgot the George Lucas lesson: that just because you made a cool product once (the first Star Wars) doesn't mean you can just slide when it comes to the next edition (any of the new Star Wars tragedies).
For us REALTORS, the real take-away is this. Just because something has an "i" or an "e" or a "super" in front of it, doesn't mean anything different than a time when all it took to sell a lot of people something was the phrase:
"But wait! There's more! It cuts through a tin can and still cuts a tomato like this!"
This article was authored by Matthew Ferrara of Matthew Ferrara Seminars, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Matthew Ferrara Seminars, Inc.