Paging all Mac Nerds

by Kieran Healy on January 9, 2007

“This thing”: just arrived from the future.What can I say? if this is the “RDF”:, sign me up.

_Update_: If you think _I’m_ a Mac fanboy, check out “these photos”: of the faithful worshipping the holy relic (it’s behind glass, naturally) at the convention. A Durkheimian moment for the brushed-metal set. They look like the apes in _2001_ gazing at the monolith.

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01.10.07 at 5:16 am



t e whalen 01.09.07 at 1:45 pm

Of all of the days for my student loan check to arrive… I can already feel Jobsian fingers rifling through my wallet.


Kelly 01.09.07 at 2:22 pm

I’ve been watching all morning via MacRumorsLive, and oh my god…

I’m kind of glad I’m a broke grad student, because if not, I’d be a broke “owns all kinds of cool new Apple gadgets” student. (Which wouldn’t be that bad, so maybe nevermind…)

Did you catch the name change? The company is no longer Apple Computer, Inc – just Apple, Inc.

Man. This is the first time in years I’ve actually wished I were at MacWorld right now.


a 01.09.07 at 2:23 pm

This phone is seriously cool. I agree – it does seem like the future. Well done Steve and well done Apple!


bb 01.09.07 at 3:24 pm

LMAO! Drink the kool aid, Kieran. I know you want it. The fact that Steve’s pristine glassy surface would soon be covered in finger prints, face grease, and peanut butter, then lost in the bottom of your book bag and covered in crumbs is no reason to resist. Surrender! …or just buy me one! I’ll take good care of it for you (sorda).

But *really* Kieran (and Eszter, of course), I can’t tell you whether this is it, but I can tell you that they are right about the problem. It’s input. If they can solve that, they really have done it. Really.

p.s. In the “things never change” department. The treocentral reps reported that Job’s wireless slideshow clicker died, as did the backup clilcker. Whoops! I’m kinna sorry I missed that.


eszter 01.09.07 at 3:57 pm

This should be of interest to more than just Mac Nerds, no? Despite my disinterest in the diePod (gotta love euphemisms), I’m still interested in innovations elsewhere.

One component I find super annoying concerns the exclusive deals that phone manufacturers make with service providers. I like my service provider just fine and am not ready to switch to something else just to use one particular gadget. This might change, but I haven’t been convinced yet. (That said, I think providers are going to have to start getting creative in holding on to customers.)

There are other costs to switching as well. The idea of transferring all data to a new format isn’t particularly appealing either. (I’m not just talking about the iPhone here. I’ve been looking at Windows Mobile and the investment (time!) of going to that from Palm OS is also considerable.)


Kieran Healy 01.09.07 at 4:07 pm

mmmm. kool aid. tastes better than a “shitbrick”:


Jacob Christensen 01.09.07 at 4:57 pm

I thought this was a serious and reality-based academic blog but…, but…, but… oh, never mind.

My mobile phone has a problem, but the good news is that the iPhone isn’t coming to Europe for another six months so I’ll just buy a cheap (whatever) as planned and keep the Palm and the iPods. (Yes, I wrote iPods).

And if I bought the iPhone, I would have to buy a new computer as well.

So: Thanks for the delay, Steve-o. The timing was impeccable.


John Quiggin 01.09.07 at 5:44 pm

RDF Warp 10! I guess it will have dissipated a bit by 2008 when all this reaches Australia.


fyreflye 01.09.07 at 6:47 pm

Ender’s Children want new toys.


micah schwartzman 01.09.07 at 6:53 pm

If only I’d bought stock …


J Edgar 01.09.07 at 7:41 pm

They [Apple] made a Vista ad. Hodgman and Long; he’s in a hospital gown, going into “major surgery,” upgrading to Vista.
That’s funny except that the Mac-persona is close to a loser compared to Hodgman. He’d probably refuse surgery if he couldn’t wear a black hospital gown.
Of course, he’d operate on himself, anyway.


JeffL 01.09.07 at 9:54 pm

It’s the coolest looking thing ever, but how long is it going to take before a scratch on the screen means I can’t make a phone call? And thanks to that screen, I can’t even put armor around it & protect my $600 investment. I think Apple missed the idea that this is a mobile device, that will travel in pockets & purses.

If my iPod breaks, I’m music-less & podcast-less for a few days (or weeks). If this thing breaks, my co-workers can’t reach me, I won’t be able to find anyone’s phone number, I’ll be without my calendar, and I’ll be music-less & podcast-less. Pretty much the definition of “stressed out.”


Russell Arben Fox 01.09.07 at 10:11 pm

Never owned a single Apple product. Only finally broke down and got a cell phone a few months ago. Still own music on cassette tapes. Write my blog on a used PC bought four years ago. Technology is overrated.


Kieran Healy 01.09.07 at 10:17 pm

Pronouns, too, looks like.


eszter 01.09.07 at 10:26 pm

Jeff, good point. My Treo’s touchscreen functionality broke a while back, but thanks to the keypad and how the various programs are set up, it turns out I can pretty much do everything (maybe -1%) using the keys. It’s not as convenient in some cases, obviously, but the device has remained a completely functional phone/mp3 player/Web browser/game gadget/calendar/etc.

And yes, people will drop these. I’ve dropped my Treo a couple of times, once on concrete and it’s still fine after almost three years. (For the record, the touchscreen problem happened before I ever dropped it.)

I don’t quite understand the big deal regarding the browser on the iPhone. You can get a Web page up in pretty much it’s regular format using IE on Windows Mobile (at least on the i-mate K-JAM, which is what I’ve tried). No, IE is not my preferred browser, but the functionality is there. Is the difference that the iPhone Safari version gives you an overview and then you can zoom in? I didn’t quite get that part.


Russell Arben Fox 01.09.07 at 10:28 pm

Touche, Kieran.


Barry Freed 01.09.07 at 10:39 pm

This thing has been in the rumor mill for years now

JQ: RDF Warp 10? Pleeeez with that – This thing goes to 11

Mr Fox: You call that a confession? Come clean man, all the way Fess up to still owning and listening to 8-tracks and what’s more, liking it

Yeah, I’ll confess to being a Mac hed

I ‘m the only Luddite geek I know (hypocrisy, you say? I prefer to think of it as my most persistent personal failure)

Now, the question: what is to be done?

Do I trade up from my Treo 650 to the Treo 700P, or wait for Jesus the iPhone to come out?


Barry Freed 01.09.07 at 10:58 pm

eszter: That’s what you (and I) get for not using a screen protector* Fortunately, the screen is fairly inexpensie to replace – about $50-60 (at a Sprint PCS store- but I reckon you’re likely to be using GSM like the rest of the world)

And can you tell that the button that types a ‘period’ has ceased functioning as well as that for a certain letter, mercifully uncommon in English

*Anyone know where I might obtain a red translucent screen protector (I use it a lot uotside at night and I’d like to be able to preserve (hey, that problem letter just typed well, fickle then) my night (uh-oh) vision (ha!)


Daniel 01.10.07 at 3:08 am

Does Apple have shares in orthopedic device manufacturers or something? They seem to be hell bent on designing the most uncomfortable and unnatural interfaces possible. After the iPod wheel (which is a really lousy and uncomfortable way to accomplish its function), they’ve now got this thing.

Let’s pretend that “typing” by tapping your fingers on a hard surface is perfectly comfortable and doesn’t hurt, which is why we all use Star Trek glass keyboards. You still have to overcome the fact that with this device, you are a) going to have to type with one hand, because the other hand will be needed to hld it and b) that hand will be holding it by the edges because as the photo demonstrates, it’s slightly larger than a Blackberry and thus doesn’t fit in your palm properly (or your pocket, but that doesn’t matter because all Mac users carry handbags).

Try an experiment holding a CD case up in your left hand with your wrist twisted round so you can “type” on the front face. Pretty uncomfortable, pretty quickly?

By the way “it’s amazing how difficult it is to make calls on most phones?”. Presumably this is in the same version of reality where that TV thing is materially different from the set top box that came free with my cable tv connection?


Maynard Handley 01.10.07 at 4:57 am

“So: Thanks for the delay, Steve-o. The timing was impeccable.”

Gee, if only Europe had, you know, like their own cell phone companies, and their own fashion companies, and their own graphic design companies. If only Jonathan Ives were, maybe, I don’t know, British.

There’s no reason a phone like this could not be produced by a company like Nokia or Siemens except for the fact that those companies have become the big-3 auto-makers of Europe — fat and lazy from shipping their SUV phones for the last five years. Look, I know their is plenty of HW innovation going on in the European phoneworld, but there is precious little SW innovation going on and absolutely zero UI innovation.

Don’t get me wrong; this is not an American triumphalist rant about how “we will bury you”. Nothing would make me happier than credible competition from Europe in this space. But the response I want to see is “just wait till we come up with something better” not “wahh, wahh, wahh, why can’t we get the good stuff when the Americans do”.
It might be a good start if either France, Germany, or both actually shipped a credible Google alternative rather than bitching about the different ways their engines are going to be so like supercool and totally awesome when we like, you know, eventually get round to building them. Fifty freaking languages or whatever in the EU, and it’s Google that’s doing the interesting work in machine translation. WTF is going on over there?


bad Jim 01.10.07 at 6:30 am

Oh, goody. Now we have an answer to traffic gridlock, sexual dysfunction, immigrant integration, currency mismatch and celebrity pregnancy: a new cell phone.

I’m sorry, but I’ve overheard one side of too many rather loud conversations today to be pleased by the proliferation of the tools with which we are eliminating the perception, practice and perhaps even the premise of privacy. Pah.


Russell Arben Fox 01.10.07 at 7:10 am

I’m the only Luddite geek I know

“Luddite geek.” I like the sound of that. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I think it must describe something important.

And I’m sorry Barry, but I’ve never owned an 8-track. I do own a stack of old 45s–they’re in a box somewhere–but I know longer have a way to play them. I guess I’m not complete.


Jacob Christensen 01.10.07 at 7:30 am

@maynard: The – admittedly – twisted point was that instead of coughing up 500 EUR (or whatever the price will be) for the iPhone, I’ll spend something like 70 EUR on a simple mobile phone that’ll do the job I want. (Hey, why not go for a Samsung to make the point) So I’m happy. No, really.

But why Bang&Olufsen hasn’t come up with a device like this yet beats me. After all, B&O thinks people are willing to pay 600 EUR for a device which can only make and receive phone calls.


nick s 01.10.07 at 7:40 am

Nokia’s got to deal with the wonderfully incompatible US market and the wonderfully different American tastes in mobiles. Still, its low-end stuff — and low-end is the big, big market these days — is fantastic. How many millions of phones have they sold to Africa and south Asia?


Eszter 01.10.07 at 8:40 am

Barry, I’ve always used a screen protector (even now that the screen isn’t working just so it doesn’t get scratched up and the visuals stay clear) and yes to GSM.

As to the Treo upgrade, I’ve been looking at the 680. For some reason (I have to do more research on this to be clear) that one seems more appealing than the 700p. Definitely do not go for the 700w, because it turns out that the Treo doesn’t have the screen size/dimension of the usual Windows Mobile gadgets so most applications won’t work on it.


jim 01.10.07 at 8:48 am

One minor aspect of the RDF: referring to 3.5″ as “wide-screen”. David Pogue in the NYT this morning actually called the screen “HUGE”.


ogged 01.10.07 at 10:05 am

Gizmodo is calling it “the Jesus phone,” which seems about right.


Jacob Christensen 01.10.07 at 10:27 am

@jim: I can imagine David Pogue walking into a pharmacy and demanding:

I’ll have whatever William Rehnquist had.

Does anyone here know of scientific tests of the effects of being exposed to Steveness (or should that be Jobsidyl?)


Wax Banks 01.10.07 at 1:41 pm

Seems like only Eszter’s asking questions about the device that go to its real identity. It’s not a phone, people: it’s a Macintosh handheld computer with rich telephony and iPod-style music features. Every one of these that sells puts OSX into the hands of a consumer who *probably* doesn’t own a Mac. That’s the real impact of the iPhone – it changes categories of consumer electronic devices.

Me wants one.

As to Eszter’s question: I think you have your description right (of the overview/zoom mode). But if you’re asking, *in all seriousness*, what the big deal is about running Safari on OSX in a handheld when you can already run, ahem, IE for Windows Mobile, then you’re very, very seriously missing the point here.


Gdr 01.10.07 at 5:29 pm

You still have to overcome the fact that with this device, you are going to have to type with one hand, because the other hand will be needed to hold it

Surely people will hold it with two hands and use their thumbs to type, like other mobile phones?

it’s a Macintosh handheld computer

According to Macintouch it’s going to be a closed platform, so you won’t be able to run your own applications. If that’s right, then it’s not a handheld Mac, but a piece of consumer electronics running some of the same software as a Mac.


I.G.I. 01.10.07 at 6:59 pm

A major difference between Apple and the big European mobile phone manufacturers is the handling of the warranty service. Apple handle the service in every European country; in unlikely case of an unresolved complain one can contact Apple Europe in Ireland, or in the US for that matter. Not so with Nokia for instance – they use unrelated to the company service subcontractors that simply carry the Nokia logo. A customer cannot even contact Nokia. In the upper market segment of handhelds that should make a difference.

I never had an issue with my Mac or with the service and support in 5 European countries. With a Nokia 9210i the service under warrany turned out as 8 months agony, in 4 Nokia authorised service centers, both in the UK and Germany.

For that reason alone I may shell out 500 Euros for an iPhone but never again for device of this sophistication made by the traditional phone manufacturers.


gray 01.11.07 at 12:30 pm

Apple truisms.

It will be expensive
It will be closed off from the mainstream of similar devices in some maddening way
It will be underpowered or “underspeced” in some maddening way
It won’t work quite as well as Steve said ( the RDF)
It will still be better designed and easier to use than similar devices in the same field.

I’m gray and I’ve been a mac fanboy for 20 years. Owner for 16.


Tim McG 01.11.07 at 12:34 pm

Further thinking, and a real invitation to response from the sociology-types:

This thing strikes me as a really bad (i.e. useless) idea and I’ve been pondering why for a while, and I think I’ve come up with it. Yes, it combines two devices, but you have to consider the social position of those two things before thinking about whether or not people will use them in combination.

Let’s start with a phone. It lies as an intermediary between two people; it connects distant people (in a relation of equality). An iPod gives one user access to his music. With headphones, the iPod is about shutting out the world, distracting you from a mundane task, entertaining the listener (individually). Hooked up to speakers, it’s about providing music for people who are physically together to enjoy something (and in all cases it’s a one-way medium).

The only possible way that an iPod and a cellphone occupy the same social space is if people think of their friends as entertainment. Maybe that’s the case; maybe people won’t think it odd to talk back to their iPod, or perhaps simple convenience will bridge the gap (but the UI has be damn-near perfect).

The market can decide whether it’s useful for someone, but I’m going to continue my search for a phone that I can dial with gloves on (no other functionality needed).


Jacob Christensen 01.12.07 at 7:40 am

@tim mcg:

I actually think that His Steveness made the same argument some years ago (but searching for “Steve Jobs” iPod phone right now will yield 3 billion hits).

One thing which Microsoft – at least in theory – got right with the Zune player is that music (and games and video) also has a social element – you create a sense of community by sharing music or videos or games with your friends. In this way music becomes a means to reach a social goal.

This probably also plays a certain role in filesharing and copying.

So what the iPhone/ApplePhone ought to have is the ability to phone one of your friends who owns a similar device and play something from your music collection on her/his gizmo.

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