Is the iPhone the OS 9 of Phones?
Remember back in the day when you would tell all your friends and family how the Mac rocked? How it was the easiest-to-use and most powerful computer light years of anything before it? And then they bought it. And, a few weeks later you'd get a call about crashes. Oh, you'd say, that's simple, it must be an extension conflict. Or....don't run too many applications or it may crash!
This pattern would inevitably repeat itself a few times until, when recommending the Mac, if you were a good soul, you would get a slight lump in your throat.
OS X has thankfully obviated any concern for guilt. The occasional kernel panic aside the operating system is rock-solid.
Which brings us to the iPhone, and, more specifically, version 2 of the iPhone operating system. Since upgrading my original iPhone (I haven't yet splurged for the GPS, 3G, tacky-plastic back and different-gamma screen) I have had any number of instances of having to restart my iPhone. I haven't yet come up with a pattern, except to observe that it happens a lot with Applications, which may be Steve's unconscious way of saying, "See, you wanted Apps, have your damn Apps...but the iPhone will crash like I told you so!"
I recognized yesterday, as I needed to make a phone-call and had to reset my iPhone for the third time that day, that familiar feeling of dread. Waiting for my iPhone to reboot brought me back to those Classic OS days. It isn't quite as bad as running Extension Conflict and waiting for the computer to reboot 20 plus times to tell me which extensions are in conflict (It's utterly amazing to think such a product existed, isn't it?!). But a phone is different than a computer in how we need it.
Suddenly I'm imagining myself, flat-tire on a country road cursing my iPhone as it needs to be rebooted...using up the remaining battery power before the thing dies. I imagine myself missing that call from my kids school saying my child needs to be picked up. Folks, this is a phone! Sure computers are important, but while they are rebooting themselves you can do other things, ablutionary or otherwise. When you are out with a phone and you need it--when you really need it--it better work.
That is why, these days I'm starting to get worried about recommending an iPhone as a principal mobile phone (a lot of people have a work phone and a personal one, so at least the work one is there for backup). The worry is not to the point yet where I would categorically tell people to never get an iPhone. But still, I can't help thinking I'm lying to myself there a little.
This is why it is so important that Apple nail the releases of the iPhone software. Steve Jobs loves to say that it is all about the software. And on the iPhone it is. But if the software becomes like a sticky number 6 key on a regular phone, sometimes working, sometimes not, then Apple is in for trouble. In future releases Apple needs to be more cautious in ensuring that the key stability of the phone is there. Anything else could be disastrous for the longevity of the iPhone platform.
What do you think? Am I spot on? Or over-stating the issue?