Got mine on Friday night. Left a late meeting and made it to West Street in Horsham around 7. The O2 store is just opposite the Carphone Warehouse, so I peeked at both looking to ascertain the size of the queues before deciding to go in. Both had about 10-15 people inside, most of them playing with the iPhones on display. Nobody seemed to be actually waiting to buy them. In fact, while I was out the staff from the O2 store joined me at peeking into the Carphone Warehouse one while commenting on the low turnout.
I decided to go to the O2 shop -if something’s wrong, I’d be better off cutting the middleman. 10 minutes and a half-hearted attempt to sell me insurance later I was the proud owner of an iPhone. They were placing them inside a cute white paper bag with a big got it written on its side. On my way back to the car park I was reflecting on how the town was remarkably devoid of any more white bags.
The UK iPhone launch saga has been so far unremarkable. With at least 2 stores stocking the phone in every town, no matter how small, was anyone really expecting queues? Scarcity might have made it a bit more newsworthy -I remember it took me 3 days and a few trips to obscure locations to get my hands on a PSP back when it came out- but what’s the commercial sense in that? Apple are a lot better off ensuring the phones can be bought en masse while the hype remains feverish.
No big bang then, but since I first got it, everytime I taken it out the world seems to stop. My mates wanted to see it Saturday night, some of my colleagues asked to touch it today and a drip drip of curious visitors have been by my desk to say let’s see it then. The queues under the rain may not have materialised, but the long tail is going to ripple for a lot longer than anything that’s come before.
The iPhone will yet mark a before and an after on mobile telephony. Talk about other products providing better features, smaller size and rational stuff like that misses 2 key points: first, unmetered Web access is a paradigm-changing feature for most consumers. Fretting about GPRS/EDGE vs 3G is to forget that for many this is the first time they are going to use their Internet access in anger, unworried about having to remortgage their home to pay for their next data bill. Also, the much superior browser more than makes up for the wait. Secondly, and more importantly, the iPhone is to phones like the Smart was to cars. People buy them because of their looks, a certain new convenient feature -parking sideways = touch interface and the cool factor they rub off.
It may not do everything better, but it does a few things really well AND it confers a certain je ne sais qe onto its otherwise unremarkable, grey owner. Better models will come, maybe from different manufacturers (cue the New Mini in the car world) but the category has been changed for good. Nokia and Sony Ericsson should be very afraid.
Right, back to sliding my finger along the screen. I can almost see a groove developing along the glass already…