I love my iPhone not just because it’s an object of beauty in its own right, but because the experience of using it is so pleasurable, so much of the time.
It feels great in my hand: the curved shape, the weight balance, and the tactile feel of the materials. I smile at the way it sounds when someone calls me or an alert chimes to remind me of an upcoming meeting.
The user interface for voice calls has been thoughtfully designed, so when I’m on a call and a new one comes in, the UI offers sensible options for how to handle those calls. I don’t have to remember any silly key combination in order to juggle multiple calls.
The hi-res display is fabulous, and I love the way images are rendered, whether mine or those provided by Apple. Everything about the product says its quality is more than skin deep.
A Model for Others?
Experts in interaction design and brand experience undoubtedly look at the iPhone launch as a case study in how to convey brand attributes throughout every aspect of a product, its marketing and the consumer’s usage experience.
Speaking for myself… My experience of activating the phone and porting my mobile number from one carrier to another was simple and flawless. The self-service online approach was fast, easy to understand and visually elegant: everything that Apple has “trained” me to expect as a customer over 20+ years.
The user interaction model had Apple’s fingermarks all over it. Although I hear the behind-the-scenes carrier work was messy, the way Apple and AT&T managed the self-service activation process should be an inspiration for other technology-based consumer services.
Part of the magic of the iPhone comes from the way Apple has managed the brand experience at all the consumer touchpoints, from point of sale through activation to usage and maintenance. (Not to mention the way they whipped the early adopter and analyst community into a frenzy during the long wait for the device to arrive in the stores.)
iPhone versus Treo
Before buying an iPhone, I was a frustrated Treo user (after a long love affair with earlier Palm OS devices).
In my first 90 days as an iPhone user, Apple has already updated the iPhone 3 times, with noticeable improvements each time. This compares to the 2 years I had to wait before Palm, Access and Verizon fixed the bugs in the Treo 700p that caused it to crash all the time. The firmware updating process is simple, if you’re used to using an iPod; and requires much less effort from the user than the equivalent process on the Treo.
Compared to the Treo’s limited capabilities for email handling and web browsing, I’ll put up with EDGE in order to have an email environment that’s actually useful. Messages are clear, well presented and nicely formatted. And you can actually use the web browser!
Synching an iPhone works just fine, especially compared to what I experienced using Verizon Wireless, a Treo 700p, and a POP email account with 500+ contact records. I must have done a dozen hard resets on the Treo in order to fix the duplicates and triplicates caused by the poor quality synching utility that Verizon delivers to its customers. To make matters worse, those problems would work their way back into my Outlook file if I made the mistake of synching the Treo to the PC without checking to see if Verizon’s service had introduced duplicates again.
So far (first 90 days) I’ve had no problems synching the iPhone to a PC — and I’m using Plaxo to synchronize Outlook 2007 calendars, contacts and to-do’s across two PCs. It all works like a charm, and I don’t have to waste my time maintaining what’s on my phone.
It just works — and provides pleasure during its various interactions with me.