I don't think I have ever felt such an overwhelming desire to own -- no, just to touch -- a product in my life. It really looks extraordinary. All I can think of is this ludicrous quote from the Palm CEO from a few weeks back:
Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company -- including the wildly popular Apple Computer -- could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector. ``We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,'' he said. ``PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.''
Added 1/11/07: A few more thoughts after a day or two to reflect. Fred Wilson writes in the comments here: "i think the lack of a keyboard will render it useless to those of us who have gotten used to a treo or a blackberry." That may well be true -- I'm not a Treo or Blackberry user, so I don't really have an issue with this. It does seem to me that the decision to go with a touchscreen was ultimately a smart one, because it buys them so much space and flexibility on the screen, and I can imagine a scenario where all the benefits that come from that would outweigh the slower typing time, at least for some Treo and Blackberry users. It reminds me a little of adjusting to the lower bit-rate audio quality of the iTunes store music selection. I used to go out of my way to buy albums I knew I was going to really love on CD for the better audio, but eventually the speed and convenience of just clicking on a "buy this album" button won out. I haven't bought a CD in at least a year, I'd say.
Of course there's another option here. I was talking to a good friend last night who is a Treo fan, and he was raving about the iPhone, and I brought up Fred's reservations, and he said: "Oh, it's already clear what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a Treo *and* and iPhone."
I think the core point is here that there is just a giant unknown lurking in the multitouch interface. I was thinking yesterday that the last time I felt so overwhelmed with a desire to have a product it was with the Newton -- something about the idea of writing on the screen and having it recognize your handwriting just seemed so insanely magical that I became obsessed with it. And then, well, it actually didn't work very well once I got my hands on it. Clearly Jobs thinks they've made a major breakthrough with this -- that it's the kind of thing that once you've tried it, you can't go back. Philosophically, I'm with him: you put the complexity on the screen, and make the input device as simple as possible. But the proof is in the touching.