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Apple to Early iPhone Adopters: You're Suckers


I was among the skeptics about the iPhone, and advised people to wait for version 2.0 — for a phone that was much better than this one and not tied to AT&T as the sole network.

So I’m wondering why Apple’s huge price cut yesterday is such a surprise. There were reports that sales had plummeted after the early hype-driven mania, which surprises me not at all. But the people who bought the iPhones earlier this summer should be feeling like suckers, because they have been taken in by a classic example of marketing manipulation.

UPDATE: Apple is making a small concession. It’s offering “every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.”  In other words, early adopters have to buy something new from Apple to get this credit — there’s no rebate on the iPhone itself; suckers squared.

I hope Apple is planning a 2.0 version that fixes the thing. My guess is we’ll see something fairly soon that works with the higher-speed network AT&T has running in some cities, but even that’s not enough to make me a customer. Not even close.

Some hackers say they’ve freed the iPhone from its AT&T dependency, but I’m waiting to see what countermeasures Apple and the telecom company take to “fix” this hack. We’ll know, once it becomes more common, just how hard-wired the pairing is going to be.

Meanwhile, as noted a few days ago, I’ve been testing the Nokia E90 Communicator, which is about twice the size of the iPhone and about 10 times more useful for what I do.

One addition to my mini-review: I also discovered it makes a nifty portable video player. I ripped a DVD of several early Heroes episodes (yes, I’m now officially hooked) to the device and watched them on a plane. The audio and video were excellent.

I still carry an iPod Nano for music, but Nokia doesn’t have to do a lot more to make the E90 as close to ideal as anything is likely to be for the next year or so. The iPhone isn’t in the same league, in my view.

6 Comments on “Apple to Early iPhone Adopters: You're Suckers”

  1. #1 Chris Vadnais
    on Sep 6th, 2007 at 10:19 am

    It seems the only people who don’t like the iPhone are the people who are too cheap to buy one. I hear a lot of people who have never even tried the thing complaining that its network is too slow…weird. I don’t try to download mammoth files over the EDGE network, just like I wouldn’t on a 3G network–to a TELEPHONE. Mr. Gillmor, you seem especially bitter–like your mom wouldn’t let you get one so you’re going with the “I didn’t want one of those anyway” line.

    I’ve never seen a Nokia E90 Communicator up close, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t sync up with my Mac the way the iPhone does. What does that run, the Symbian OS? Come on, be serious. You see, the draw of the iPhone, at least for me, is the draw of every Apple product: the software. Find a phone with a better interface. I dare you.

    You hope for a version 2.0 that “fixes the thing.” What does that mean? Frees it from AT&T? I don’t have any problems with AT&T.

    The iPhone may not be the best choice for you. I can understand that, especially if you’re not a Mac user. However, that doesn’t make early adopters suckers. It just makes us people who can afford to pay for something we feel is right for us.

    The price drop isn’t surprising to me, either. After all, someone had to pay for all the Apple employees’ iPhones, right?

  2. #2 Dan Gillmor
    on Sep 6th, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I can certainly afford one, and have tried it, which makes your critique of a device you acknowledge you haven’t touched a little strange. For the record, it does sync with the Mac (Nokia has posted an iSync app). And I am a Mac user.

    I completely agree that the Mac interface is in many ways superior. But that doesn’t begin to make up for what’s missing. Apple will eventually get this right, and hackers will get some things right for them. Not yet, though…

  3. #3 Chris Vadnais
    on Sep 6th, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    I didn’t mean to imply you couldn’t afford it — that wasn’t my intention at all. I’m sorry it came out that way.

    I presume your Nokia phone syncs with the Mac like a Palm Treo does: very awkwardly, especially when compared to the iPhone. That was my point.

    Just so I’m clear about what you’re saying, what exactly do you feel is missing? Is it the ability to choose your own carrier? The 3G network?


  4. #4 Dan Gillmor
    on Sep 6th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    No, the sync is not at all awkward, because Nokia has written an iSync connector.

    If you read my previous critique(s) you’ll see what I think is missing.

  5. #5 Dan Kennedy
    on Sep 7th, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Dan — It strikes me that your critique of the iPhone, especially in comparison to the Nokia, is off base. The iPhone is a consumer product. What’s exciting about it isn’t that it’s a tool for journalists (it isn’t), but that it could grow into a tool for people to read, watch and listen to online journalism anywhere they happen to be. The Nokia, as you say, sounds like an amazing tool for producers of journalism.

    Personally, I can’t afford either phone!

  6. #6 Dan Gillmor
    on Sep 7th, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Dan, my critique was specifically about what kind of device *I* want and need. If it’s so great for other folks, fine by me. I’d still advise them to wait, however, for something that a) will let third-party developers make it more useful; and b) isn’t tethered to a dreadful carrier.