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New Cell Phone

September 15th, 2013

Got a giggle from reading a 10-year-old blog post about how I got a new cell phone.

I wrote about the “feature-rich” phones back then (relative to U.S. phones at least), and mentioned someone taking pictures of a nature spot with them. I can only imagine that they treasure their 144 x 120 pixel memories.

My other note in the post: how it took an expensive cable, hunted-down freeware, and hours of frustration to transfer the address book I had to enter on a PC to the phone. So difficult that I used it just the once.

From memory, I recall that most of the features were cyphers to me (it had three different kinds of “email,” I never figured out what they were), and I almost never used much except just the phone. Then, after a few years, the contacts for charging wore down so much that just recharging the phone was a mixture of enraging frustration and disappointing failure.

What I also recall is that I just wanted one thing, really: the ability to sync my address book with my phone. Just that would have made me a happy camper. And though I was able to, it cost a whole bunch and was so much trouble that I rarely repeated the process.

A little less than five years later, I got my first iPhone. You can guess how that changed things.

When I see people saying stupid crap like “Apple tried to patent the rectangle,” I get pissed off, because it is eminently clear that these people have completely forgotten how absolutely abysmal cell phones used to be before Apple changed the game.

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  1. Troy
    September 15th, 2013 at 13:27 | #1

    yup, Apple turned the phone into an app essentially.

    Japan never had the system engineering chops to accomplish this — few companies in the world had the locus of skills necessary — hardware, software, business, legal, marketing — to turn an idea as hard as the iPhone into a successful product.

    Palm had this same idea, but ran out of gas for some reason, accreting too many mistakes along the way until their forward progress was stopped.

    Sony had picked up the ball, but their Clie product never got much further. They were big on gadgetry, but did not focus on usability or simplicity, nor software development all that much.

    I’d bought a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 in 2001, and while it had Linux and 3.5″ QVGA screen it had abysmal API and graphics performance.

    Android was the next industry effort, but they were not focused on touch computing at all, not until the iPhone showed the way in 2007.

    Microsoft had its PocketPC and Windows Mobile efforts, but the less said about that pile of crap the better.

    In 2007, Apple had almost all the pieces — capacitative touch, same 3.5″ display as the Zaurus but with HVGA resolution (so 160dpi vs the Zaurus’ 96), with a capable PowerVR subsystem to push the pixels, and their own OS to keep a lid on energy wastage.

    The one piece they were missing was 3rd party API, but they delivered that the first year, and exceeded that delivery with the AppStore, something obvious in hindsight but a real differentiator that no other device vendor had managed to assemble.

    Apple HAS done a helluva job limiting platform fragmentation, too. What with aggressive OS updating, conservative changes to the platform, and letting older offerings be the value tier (avoiding the split Apple did with the 1980s Mac II 640×480 vs. LC’s cheaper 640×400).

    Here’s a funny factoid — Apple’s first PPC 64-bit CPU — the “G5” — had 50 million transistors, vs. the 5S’s 1 billion. The 5S would in fact be perfectly capable of driving a laptop, except RAM is probably a bit tight . . .

  2. Troy
    September 20th, 2013 at 02:51 | #2

    Funny thing is after 6 years, I have yet to get an iPhone.

    If I got a 5S I’d want to hook up a 24″ monitor and bt keyboard + mouse and use it as a desktop replacement.

    I have an iPod Touch but I only use that for playing podcasts, something I could do with a straight iPod.

    For phone calls I just use a crappy $80/yr plan with a ghetto clamshell phone from Virgin (they actually grandfathered this plan this summer so when it goes away, I look at iPhones, LOL)

    Works well enough for talking to people, and it’s probably best that voice + data are two separate devices. Carrying the clamshell phone around isn’t that big a deal, my cargo shorts have a special pocket for it even, LOL.

    Paying $80/yr instead of $80/mo is worth this small hassle.

  3. Tim
    September 22nd, 2013 at 23:57 | #3

    What you said about hooking up the 5s as a desktop replacement…

    That’s what Cringely is saying IS Apples strategy.

    Give it a gander:

  4. Troy
    September 23rd, 2013 at 08:46 | #4

    interesting cringely piece

    “So I expect Apple to build for road warriors a new class of devices that have the display, keyboard and trackpad of a notebook but without the CPU, memory or storage. Call it a MacBook Vacuum, because it’s a MacBook Air without the air.”

    kinda like:


    there’s also the ASUS Padphone idea, which docks a phone into a tablet . . .


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