Image by Niels van Eck via Flickr
It just isn't sufficient as a professional device. Not for voice and not for email. I carry a Blackberry for email. I soon will carry some smart phone on the Verizon network for voice communications. As a handheld device, the iPhone is a cool little computer. It does cool little computer things very well.
If my job was playing games for a living, which it is not, I cannot imagine a better device than the iPhone. Flipside5's Air Hockey game is the "Citizen Kane" of handheld air hockey games. The little slot machine like application for finding a random, nearby restaurant is really cool. The Facebook application is inspired and well done. The More Cowbell application picks me up when I am down.
Unfortunately for my usage of an iPhone, my job involves a great deal of email communication and important phone calls. Important phone calls is meant to imply that dropping the call two to three times per half hour when moving in a vehicle isn't acceptable. It strikes me as unprofessional. Since I live in the relatively wilderness-like Washington D.C. area, I probably should be more understanding that the iPhone cannot hold a call when traveling from the White House to Tyson's Corner via automobile. It is 8 miles, the primary options are highways, that people would use the iPhone here cannot be a surprise to anyone at AT&T. So, if I have an important call, I pull over. When the call is completed, I get going again. I will never recover the time lost sitting still in order to keep a call live. The iPhone is a mobile phone inasmuch as you can carry it around, it isn't a mobile phone in the biblical sense. You shouldn't be mobile when attempting to use it. It is mobile, you are not.
Yes, I know, the iPhone is only as good as the network it is on. But, so long as it is only on one network in this country -- that isn't much of an argument here. To be fair, I used my iPhone in Europe this summer (England, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Germany, etc.) without the constant dropped calls. I even rode on a train for an hour, from London to Oxford, without dropping a call. But, I don't live or work in Europe. I live in work in the Washington, D.C. area and here, the iPhone sucks.
This is so say nothing of the iPhone's inherent ability to hold a day and half's worth of emails compared to a month or more for the Blackberry. If you're planning pizza parties or organizing social events, two days email storage is probably more than enough. For the rest of us, it is completely inadequate.
And then there is the recent revelation of search for iPhone. Great idea. Search. Could be really useful.
Here again, if you don't get many emails or materially important ones. The iPhone could be quite good. If you're a teenage sending 3000 monthly texts, no issue with the iPhone (I think). But if you get a lot of emails, and they're important, you will need to get a real tool like the Blackberry.
All of which is to say, we may be seeing the end of "prosumer" devices. The term, prosumer, was coined to describe a class of devices that consumers purchased and put to a dual purpose, professional and personal/consumer use. I would argue that Apple is one of the best consumer companies. Apple has taken a consumer product pretty far, maybe as far as it can go -- maybe too far.
Here comes another generation of smart phone based upon Android operating system technology and all on better networks (hard to do, I know, I am talking to you -- AT&T user). Industry analysts predict that these Android devices will never surpass the iPhone in popularity on a volume basis. For professional usage and perhaps on the average revenue per user metric that drives the telco's, I suspect it will all be Android devices over the iPhone. And it won't take long. Then again, I will likely be carrying a Droid based phone, my general purpose iPhone, and Blackberry for email and yes, I will be looking for a charger. So, I will count in all categories.....