« Powells.com Interview | Main | »


David Shenk

I'm in love with it too, Steven, and if the touchscreen is half as intuitive as the demo makes it seem, this is an enormous step forward. The combination of the automatic screen orientation, a real browser and the widgets (arguably the feature with the most potential) takes this machine to a new plane.

From a practical point of view, the big question here is whether this first-gen keyboard will cut it. Will the touchscreen keyboard have the same mojo as that of the blackberry and treo, or will the iphone have to adopt a real-button thumb keyboard of some sort before it can compete for all the serious texters and business emailers?

Let's pause for a moment and ponder the possibility that one mortal man, Steve Jobs, who has already revolutionized personal computing (mac) and digital media (itunes/ipod), and become the king of animation in his spare time (Pixar/Disney), now perhaps is on the precipice of dominating and reinventing the realm of the cellphone/PDA. Astounding.

Alex Drelles

It's all about the sweet spot between a phone and a wireless internet device. Steve Jobs understands that idea better than anyone. These are exciting times indeed.

Ben Edwards

That is one of the funniest/saddest quotes ever. The problem is just as they stated it, they have been trying to figure out how to make a 'decent phone'. Those crazy 'PC' guys just step in and make a great *experience* - an experience worthy of lusting after.

One interesting point I have seen made is the idea that becuase this phone runs OSX (or some lite version) it may make the idea of switching from Windows easier for those who like the way the phone works and are looking for a better computing experience as well.

I don't think I have ever seen any one product illicit such technolust with people I know or people online. My wife is still underwhelmed though.


I was impressed by the presentation also, but the RDF has faded a bit now...

Touchscreen phones are nothing new. And good browsers have been available for them for a while. Tiny keyboards are still a lot better to use (due to the tactile feedback) than a touchscreen for typing on.

Above all - the phones not going to be out for at least six months and when it is - $600 PLUS a two year contract?!?!?


I really want an iPhone as well.. :(

chris Larry

I have restrained from learning about it to protect from tech envy...


I couldn't agree more. I have a Treo and I remember the wow factor when I got it, and the iPhone blew that off the map. I don't even own an iPod for gawds sakes. Drool.

fred wilson

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.

jobs made fun of the keyboards on those devices in his pitch yesterday, but i cannot imagine how a touchscreen keyboard can possibly deliver the performance and tactile feel i need to send and recieve hundreds of mobile emails a day.

i also find the exclusive relationship with cingular to be disgusting.

jobs had the opportunity to reinvent wireless and he copped out.

Alf Gracombe

It's interesting that Cingular/AT&T has a multi-year exclusive deal with Apple - seems like not a great deal for Apple as it locks the device in with a single carrier. But I'm wondering if that exclusivity is just within the cellular service market and if this device could become integrated with a VoIP service like Skype and not be in breach of the agreement with Cingular. Given that the phone has the ability to operate over Wi-Fi, who's to say it couldn't start using non-cellular networks? Now that would be revolutionary. Would be a shame to have such a wonderful device operable with only a single carrier.

Enza Sebastiani

Cool review. Thanks for sharing the Palm CEO quote!


What really matters to me (as a treo owner) is whether or not 3rd party applications are going to be developed for the iPhone. I'm really not interested in a phone with functionality that can only be extended by Apple.

But if I can assume that there will be a development platform available for it, then I'm absolutely on board with this thing. My current Treo does mostly what I want it to do(*). The iPhone does it all in a much prettier interface, with orders of magnitude more storatge space. I'd probably wait for the 3G model before I got one.

(*) I have to have 3rd party apps to get the treo to do what I want. I'm assuming that at some point after getting an iPhone I'll think of something else I want it to do. If there are 3rd party developers out there, I think I've got a much better chance of getting those needs met.


Let me go ahead and echo the concerns regarding typing on a touchscreen. One of the reasons the treo and blackberrys have become so popular is the speed and ease with which one can enter text. To put a fine point on it...you can do it by feel alone. You don't have to look. While the "multi-touch" does look sexy as hell...it takes fingers AND eyes to function. With a more tactile interface, the fingers can BE the eyes.

That being said, as an iPod interface it looks great (no wasted space that isn't screen), but again loses points for the same reason. I don't know about you, but I operate my nano A LOT by touch alone, and to loose this functionality is a step backwards in certain respects.

But I will be honest as well, I had a nerdgasm when I first saw the presentation. Unfortunately function tends to trump form for gadgets. If they sacrifice too much of one for the other...they lose.

As far as my street cred goes in this space, I bought my Treo (great texting/email/surfing/not so sexy anymore), my Nano (great interface/form/limited function) and my PSP (great media/games/crap typing/surfing) within the first two weeks they were available. I'm a sucker for sexy gadgets that work. The iPhone has the sexy, but the work part of the equation is a question that won't be answered for another 5 (looong) months.

Jon Husband

Why couldn't one keep a foldable (or roll-upable) bluetooth-enabled portable keyboard in a small pocket on whatever sac one typically carries, and use it when you need to elt the fingers fly ?

Reed Hedges

I'm actually thinking of buying a pda or small tablet, and I think I might prefer handwriting reco. more than a keyboard. Playing with my wife's Palm Pilot it seems to work really well, and the higher end Palms don't have a fixed space for writing, it's a pane that pops up when you want it.

What do you folks think about handwriting reco. vs. keyboard (whether real or software)? Will the iPhone support it?


I was wandering if this big first impression was really lasting for a long time. For me worked the video much better as a presentation method. Especially the "running after" of the scrolling the address book was overhelming. But its really expensive, but i will definitly try this new Apple Baby out!


I was amazed by the fact that I had seen a demo of a multi-touch sensor interface from the TED conference on Youtube only days before the iPhone announcement. One day I was looking at something that was supposedly the "future" of computer interfaces, the next day Apple had introduced it in one of their products. Talk about Futureshock.

But the interface itself reminded me of something Steven said on this blog (or rather, the last one) wondering where all the interface artists foretold in "Interface Culture" were. Interfaces are like brushes and not every artist that can use one knows how to make one. Now and then a new physical interface comes along and open the door to a lot of artists. I think the multi-touch haptic interface is one of those developments that is going to open the door to a lot of new artists and help to create a lot of neat art.

Just for a few ideas, check out this youtube video:



Just to reply to Jon Husband's comment: "What do you folks think about handwriting reco. vs. keyboard (whether real or software)? Will the iPhone support it?"

Handwriting recognition software called "Inkwell" is built in to the Mac OS X operating system. I've used it with a Wacom tablet and it's ok--not great. They could make improvements to it though, and if their claim that the iPhone is running Mac OS X is true then it's got Inkwell, too. In fact, Steve Jobs was so in love with the multi-touch interface, it makes me wonder if we won't see MacBooks without keyboards this year.


The cell as it exists now is broken and I'm looking forward to seeing Job's and co. fix. I too disagree with the nay-sayers because finally a phone has been designed with the provider retooling their system to work with the new features. Cingular (love them or hate them) has restructured their backbone for this phone, and isn't that the way technology moves forward? I can't wait to own one myself, and yes I haven't been this excited since the Newton. (and as an aside I did tote around a portable keyboard for my Newton)


Sorry - nothing to do with this thread, but did anyone save Steve's Times article on Lost?
I posted the link on his blog - http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/2005/09/finding_lost.html - but didn't save the story anywhere.




Totally off topic, but here's a link to a world IQ map. Got explanations? Speculations? Lots of video games in Mongolia? Liars in the Ministries of Education?


Erik Vidal

Quite surprising, here, to think that no one has, as of yet, brought up the fairly recent (as of a few months back) debate which raged (if that's the appropriate term!) over the introduction of the Nintendo Wii's new motion-sensing control system. Three months or so ago, and I do still very clearly recall hordes of gamers (many of whom would almost certainly earn the descriptor "life-long", and as follows, were almost certainly rather set in their ways...) posting to any number of boards quite an extraordinary range of criticism, what with regard to the new interface, and all without a one of them having ever even touched the interface... "It won't work..." "It's going to be too sensitive..." "My hand/wrist/elbow/arm etc will grow too tired to quickly..." and so on. Most often, it was simply (and this comment came, offically, from the Microsoft themselves): "Not a control pad, too gimmicky, won't work, but nice try Nintendo..." Now, of course, I've had the thing since the day of release, and all the arguments have, as far as I'm concerned (and these sentiments to do seem to have been echoed at large) been put to bed--the motion sensing remote IS worlds above and beyond the control pad (the latter of which, as we know, was becoming ludicrously overstuffed with the number of buttons/joysticks etc--sound familiar?). So much so, in fact, that friends of mine who'd previously never dreamt of playing games before are, indeed, are now doing so (the majority of them--let's face it--being women, which, from this gamer's POV, can only be a good thing...!). So now, my question then: the very argument we're having here, about the end user's potential inability to get away from a tactile interface and move to the iPhone's touchscreen--how is this different, in any way, from the control pad vs motion sensing argument that the gamers went through last fall? Honestly, shouldn't we just accept that touchscreen is here, it is happening, it will likely take any one of us all of a day to get used to it, and then, afterwards, there really will be no going back...?

Jay Haynes

I think the keyboard "issue" is a non-issue for a few reasons:

1. The iPhone error correction is a big improvement. I think we have all collectively forgotten that it seemed like a crazy idea to spend significant amounts of time emailing with our thumbs! People will get used to typing without tactile feel if Apple does a good job with error correction. Anyone who has spent time emailing with a Blackberry or Treo knows that errors are the name of the game (Blackberry still doesn't have spell correction and the Treo auto correct is sort of a joke). We have all probably received emails from Blackberry users with the auto signature something like: "Please excuse errors, I sent this from my Blackberry." If Apple's error correction is as good as it is rumored to be, the experience of emailing on the iPhone could be fantastic and more productive (less time correcting messages, more time communicating). It reminds me of debates I used to have in the late 80s with DOS users who were convinced that their text interface was far superior. The "interface" is not the tactical feel of the keyboard - but the whole experience of entering data and accomplishing tasks with the device. The "enter data" interface for any tiny device like a phone is input + error correction, so if the input (the on screen keyboard) is ok and the error correction is much, much better, people will adopt it very quickly. The whole experience of the interface will feel much much better even if the tactile feel is different.

2. Apple will probably roll out over-the-air (OTA) syncing for iCal (and Address Book). Sure the tiny little keyboard is nice, but what made the Blackberry and Treo really successful is OTA. This is a must have for business now because we do everything in real time (change meetings, contacts, locations, email etc.). Apple is addressing the email part of OTA by supporting IMAP, which is great. And it looks like OTA for iCal might be in the works. iCal in Leopard combined with the new iCal Server can do group scheduling, auto schedule (pick a meeting time when everyone is available) and two-way editing (your assistant can edit your iCal).

I would be surprised if the launch of Leopard didn't include a serious update to .mac with hosting for iCal Server (for a fee of course). It should also include a much needed upgrade to .mac sync (an hopefully end the endless arrows chasing each other as you wait for the sync to finish). The next logical step is OTA with iPhone.

3. The market Apple is targeting is huge - and it is not Blackberry users. The hard core Blackberry users are on a corporate Exchange network. They can complain about the lack of keyboard all they want, but they are a slave to the IT department that runs the Exchange server (no real Blackberry user POPs their email). So if they wanted to get off the Blackberry they couldn't anyway. So Apple probably isn't targeting them. Exchange is an insanely expensive solution (software, hardware, IT staff to run it) and ripe for an alternative, so if Apple gets OTA right with iCal and iPhone, you could see some migration, but probably not much in v1.0.

The second target market is "hosted" Exchange servers (like mi8). These work well and are less expensive, but they still ain't cheap - not by a long shot. So Apple could take some share here as well.

But the third, and I think primary, target market for the iPhone is the gigantic number of small businesses who don't have Exchange set up with Blackberry or GoodLink (Treo). If Apple penetrates this market with a simple hosted OTA iCal-iPhone solution it could be a huge growth driver - they buy the iPhone and pay a monthly fee for OTA based on .mac. And regardless of the price of the iPhone, it will be a huge cost savings over any Exchange server solution.

If the browser is as good as it looks your can even do a totally free version of OTA with Yahoo IMAP for the email and Google Calendar for group calendaring. Tough to beat that price.

So Apple's strategy doesn't have to be "kill the Blackberry". It's probably more like "Blackberry for the rest of us."


- http://telefr.galeon.com/antivirus/achat_antivirus.html - http://telefr.galeon.com/antivirus/anti_spyware.html - http://telefr.galeon.com/antivirus/anti_spyware_gratuit.html - http://telefr.galeon.com/antivirus/anti_virus_software.html - http://telefr.galeon.com/antivirus/antivirus.html


the iPhone will be the device every movie and tv show will have as a working prop in all their productions...watch.


i love this site.a

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
I'm a father of three boys, husband of one wife, and author of nine books, host of one television series, and co-founder of three web sites. We split our time between Brooklyn, NY and Marin County, CA. Personal correspondence should go to sbeej68 at gmail dot com. If you're interested in having me speak at an event, drop a line to Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau (WesN at Leighbureau dot com.)

My Books

  • Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

    Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
    A history of innovation accompanied by a 6-part TV series on PBS and the BBC, this was the first of my books to crack the top 5 on the NY Times bestseller list. Appropriately for a book that celebrates diverse networks, this was the most collaborative of any of my books. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age

    Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
    My first book-length attempt to organize my writings about emergence and networks into something resembling a political philosophy, which I called Peer Progressivism. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
    An exploration of environments that lead to breakthrough innovation, in science, technology, business, and the arts. I conceived it as the closing book in a trilogy on innovative thinking, after Ghost Map and Invention. But in a way, it completes an investigation that runs through all the books, and laid the groundwork for How We Got To Now. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Invention of Air

    The Invention of Air
    The story of the British radical chemist Joseph Priestley, who ended up having a Zelig-like role in the American Revolution. My version of a founding fathers book, and a reminder that most of the Enlightenment was driven by open source ideals. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Ghost Map

    The Ghost Map
    The story of a terrifying outbreak of cholera in 1854 London 1854 that ended up changing the world. An idea book wrapped around a page-turner. I like to think of it as a sequel to Emergence if Emergence had been a disease thriller. You can see a trailer for the book here. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

    Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
    The title says it all. This one sparked a slightly insane international conversation about the state of pop culture -- and particularly games. There were more than a few dissenters, but the response was more positive than I had expected. And it got me on The Daily Show, which made it all worthwhile. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
    My first best-seller, and the only book I've written in which I appear as a recurring character, subjecting myself to a battery of humiliating brain scans. The last chapter on Freud and the neuroscientific model of the mind is one of my personal favorites. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

    Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
    The story of bottom-up intelligence, from slime mold to Slashdot. Most of my books sold more copies than this one, but Emergence has influenced the most eclectic mix of fields: political campaigns, web business models, urban planning, the war on terror. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
    My first. The book I wrote instead of finishing my dissertation, predicting the growing cultural significance of interface and information design. Still relevant, I think. But I haven't read it in a while, so who knows what's in there! (Available from IndieBound here.)

Blog powered by Typepad