"An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator." Those were the exact words Steve Jobs used to introduce Apple's new product, the iPhone, on January 9, 2007.
Five years later, I still don't know what an internet mobile communicator is.
Regardless, Apple's iPhone has revolutionized the way we.... I'm sorry. I can't bring myself to finish that sentence.
Fact of the matter is, I'm not in love with my iPhone any more. I actually think it's a restrictive, moribund piece of hardware that is bringing us all down.
And what better occasion to list all the ways Apple has ruined things with its iPhone than on the fifth birthday of the wretched device. Here goes:
If there were a way to track down the marketer who coined the phrase "There's an app for that" and publicly humiliate him or her, I would pursue it. Besides being annoying, it's misleading.
There may very well be an app for any and everything, but we'd have to wait for Apple to approve it and then sell us the expensive device it can run on. The sales pitch conveniently sidesteps that fact.
Apps are the modern-day CD-ROM: technology designed first and foremost for profit. iPhone apps are the worst kind of proprietary technology, inaccessible to users without an iPhone and even to those who have an iPhone without an iTunes account.
Without much opposition, Apple created an enormous walled garden whose like hasn't been seen since the days of AOL. Despite the more than 500,000 apps in its store and 18 million downloads, it's a true digital archipelago. (The best way to avoid this: web-based apps. They don't need any approvals and look and work just as well.)
Before the iPhone, I updated my software so seldom that I don't remember ever doing it. Every time I pass through the App Store, I have dozens of updates waiting for me.
I blame Apple for introducing this culture of constant updates. Most of them are minor bug fixes. Does anyone need to update software on a daily basis? Can't I just agree to automatic updates?
This state of affairs stems not just from the apps, but from the phones themselves. The iPhone has essentially been updated every year since 2007. Aside from the increasingly awesome camera feature, what have we really gained in those five updates? Like, Siriously.
Color was a mobile photo- and video-sharing app that automatically shared your media with everyone - strangers included - within a 100-foot radius. It had a huge $41 million investment even before its launch last March.
The fundamental problem with Color is that no one wants to share their photos with strangers.
That's not the iPhone's fault. Not directly anyway. But it is a symptom of aforementioned profit-first walled garden: the appetite for cash-making apps undermines their need to be useful.
Apple pioneered the idea that an app can be a full-fledged business. That's berserk, and all these single-use apps, inflated by misguided investments, will harm - if not blow up - the technology business. Thanks, iPhone.
But, of course, the device that changed the world isn't all bad. For instance, I wrote and researched this entire column on my iPhone 3GS