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Lindsy Stephenson

Steven, do you have any comments about the attempt that was made to have the AMA label video game playing as addictive behavior. Also, BoingBoing has a recent post about a mental case who though he was a character inside of Grand Theft Auto and acted out accordingly.


It's actually JOE Nocera.

fred wilson

joe's piece rang true for me because of all the ipod battery hell i've been through with five ipods in our house for the past five years, i must have sent ipods back to apple at least ten times. its a sucky experience.

i'd much rather have a thicker phone and a replaceable battery.

not everyone is in love with Apple's design ethos.


Abe Burmeister

There is also a set of phone users that uses their phones so much that they carry multiple batteries and swap them out when one dies. Certainly was a lot of demand among Treo users for exactly the same thing. Personally I prefer the slim factor, but we'll see how the iPhone battery handles the rigors of some intensive jury duty driven usage today...


well it survived jury duty, but by 5:30 I was down to about 25% on the battery and between having my laptop and the long periods where I couldn't listen to music I certainly wasn't pushing this thing to the limits. There are definitely people who are going to have some real battery life issues with this thing. Not being able to make a call cause you drained the battery watching YouTube is not going to be fun is it? Lets just hope that's the exception, not a habit.


Apple needs to put some kind of battery meter on the iPhone, so that if you know you won't recharge for a while, you can SEE when it's time to stop watching youtube and save your battery.

Oh, wait, the iPhone DOES have a battery meter... and longer talk time than any other smartphone :) If you run out of talk time on the iPhone because of watching youtube, I have 2 suggestions:

1. Watch stored videos instead of ones that arrive over the air.

2. Find a phone that CAN'T play videos and call that a feature :p


These kinds of criticisms would be more meaningful if they came from a product designer.

How, specifically, exactly, would you get a replaceable battery into the iPhone. Would you make it bigger? Would you have a machined door in the stainless steel on the back that can be removed? How would the door snap shut? Would the machining for the door raise costs? Increase rejects? Would the mechanism to keep it shut take up internal space in the iPhone? Would it be prone to getting lost? Would the stainless steel be replaced by making the plastic portion on the back larger? How would the battery attach to the phone-with wires? What kind of connectors? Would they take up space in the iPhone.

There are many products that could be designed, but it's naive to think that there is an iPhone that could have been made that would have been exactly the same size and price that would have a replaceable battery.


Not only does the iPhone have a battery meter, it has an alert message at 20% and 15% of battery capacity.

Fred Hamranhansenhansen

It's only iPhone's internal battery that is not user replaceable. The external battery (the optional one you plug on the dock port) is user replaceable and very easy to do also. At no time do you have to power down the device completely or muck about in its insides. If you need 15 hours of talk time in one day with no recharging then you can have that. Everybody else will be OK with twice the talk time of the nearest competitor and it charges while it syncs.

One funny thing is when journalists think they are better product designers than Jonathan Ives, that is rich.


It's great to read all the gripes. This is a spectacular 1.0 release. Period.

Of course certain individuals have special needs that iPhone won't meet (yet or maybe ever). Special populations needs to recognize their "specialness," though-- and realize that more often than not, others don't have to, or want to live like they do.

If a person carries multiple batteries, you're very busy and connected (or disconnected, I'd suspect). Ok. So you need either an iPhone Prius or an iPhone Suburban with a 150 gallon tank. Wonderful. Enjoy your choice of life challenges and taken-for-granted nuisances.

Now, let the rest of us enjoy ours.


Yeah, 100-million plus iPods sold to date, NONE with user-replaceable batteries. I wonder where Apple got the idea that a user-replaceable battery is just not that big a decision point for people. Go figure.

When friends brought up this "objection" to the iPhone, I asked them, "So, does your current phone have a removable battery?" Yes, they say. "Great. Have you ever removed it?" End of conversation.




I'm sure we'll see external emergency battery packs in a couple of weeks. It's not exactly rocket science to use the iPhone's Dock connecter for that.

O wait, these products already exist.


Glenn Fleishman

I haven't seen it mentioned in the comments yet, but Nocera is talking out of his hat when he says the battery will wear out in two years. I am no defender of Apple's batteries in iPods nor their replacement policies. However, Apple has made an explicit promise -- always dangerous -- that the iPhone will still maintain an 80 percent charge after 400 full charge and discharge cycles. Of course, they want you to operate the iPhone in an ideal world, but, still, that's a promise that will result in lawsuits if the battery doesn't perform nearly that well.

They don't define what a full cycle is: it's unclear whether topping off a battery each night if there is 50 percent or more of a charge left is a half cycle or a full cycle.


Its not just an aesthetic choice...I think Apple actually did their homework on this (and many other issues), and found that the vast majority of their target audience (i.e. non-smartphone using consumers) have never replaced/changed their batteries on their current phones, and don't have their phones long enough (i.e. 2-3 years tops) to even consider the issue.

Its only the small minority of current smartphone using blog reviewers who see this as an issue. Somehow, I doubt Jobs and Ive really care what they think-they aren't the target market for this. After all, they settled for those ugly and barely functional smartphones like the Blackberry in the first place :p


Glenn: their definition of full cycle is detailed at:
using 50% and then fully charge from a 50% battery would be considered a half-cycle.

On the other hand, to maintain 80% after 2 years usage is already a remarkable promise.

Joe M.

What I wrote to a friend about this iPhone battery nonsense:

Making the iPhone battery user-replaceable would add expense; but more importantly, it would add size and weight. When a battery is user-replaceable, you have to add connectors, a door and a latch, and think about internal battery compartment protection. Simply building the battery in as Apple has done, you can make a smaller, slicker cell phone.

$80 is only the official Apple price for battery replacement. That's not much more than the price they theoretically charge for replacing iPod batteries. But I've been using iPods for 5 1/2 years now, and I've never given Apple a dime to replace a battery. There are third parties doing it for much less, and there will be for the iPhone as well.

But hey -- let's say that Apple made the iPhone battery user-replaceable, so that after two years I'd pay "less than half" as much to replace the battery -- call it a $50 savings. For the price of an average dinner with a friend, I'd spend two years carrying a bigger, uglier, heavier cell phone. My response: "No thanks."

I also find it funny that we have this "consumer watchdog" group up in arms about protecting iPhone buyers. As if their most important social battle is fighting for people who have $600 to drop on a cell phone.

The iPhone has generated a hurricane of hype, and organizations like this group are trying to take advantage of it for their own PR purposes. To say nothing of entrenched business interests, concerned about an iPhone success, and what that might mean for their own products. Spreading doubt about the iPhone suits them very well.

The best way these "consumer watchdogs" can protect my interests: Butt out!


Also, the iPhone fairs better in damp situations. Water is such a problem with other cell phones that they put a water activated sticker in them to catch customers who claim the phone just died.

I'm on iPod #7 and have not yet replaced a battery.

Ben Darlow

A fair criticism. Although I'm fairly certain I read that when compared to other smartphones it is competing against (such as the Samsung Blackjack) the iPhone is actually heavier.


If the power goes out in your home, so the food in the fridge starts thawing, the iPhone battery can't be used as a portable generator for any length of time.

Cripes, I expected better from a $600 product! Apple designs such crap, and you won't find me buying one any time soon.

Another case where Ive chose form over function. I can't believe so many people have been duped.


I think having a sexier phone that has to have a battery replaced by Apple is an acceptable compromise. How often do you really need to open up your phone and fiddle with the battery?

And when you're battery dies in any other phone (or doesn't hold a charge very long), don't you have to wait for another battery to be sent to you anyway?

Tony Di Giacomo

My two cents: I'm on iPod number four and I NEVER had to replace a battery in any of them. My original first generation iPod still works (although I use it just to transfer files), my 3g 40 gig FW iPod still holds a charge. After 100 million iPods sold I think Apple knows what its doing. It amazes me how many people just aren't happy with the iPhone. Just like the Mac, nobody is forcing you to buy one.


Just thinking back over the cellphones I've had over the years, I can't think of one yet that didn't have a crash or freeze that was fixed by removing and replacing the battery.

My new "phone," really a headset-sized Windows computer that runs a program called "phone" in WM5 (Cingular 8525 aka HTC Hermes), has a hard-reset so I don't have to get at the battery should I require drastic measures or when I install a new ROM-- hopefully the iPhone also has some sort of hard-reset, for dealing with the inevitable gremlins.

However, Steven (and Nocera!), the choice between "significantly lighter and thinner" and "replaceable battery," especially one that "can be stretched into different shapes," is a false dichotomy, unless the shape of the battery is some spidery contorted shape that's firmly entwined with delicate parts. Just make a damn thin battery, and a thin but strong battery hatch, or at least a case one can open enough to access the battery.

Of course, if Apple could do that, their fans'd be waving a thin, lightweight long-life battery in our face and telling us how great they are.


As I am on a project abroad I had the question of how the SIM card for the iPhone could be changed out. One nice thing about being able to swap out cards on the move is that you can obtain a local number for your colleagues to use. Right now my ATT phone has service through a partnered network but calls are expensive and locals don't want to use their minutes to call a US number just to reach me. Does the iPhone plan for such things? How could it be made better?

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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

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

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