Yes you read that right – iPhone-ism – a word which handily describes the effects of designing a user-centric device, with easy to learn [albeit subconsciously taught] functions, that make for an instant consumer hit. It’s akin to “Wessonality” without the Florence Henderson. In my concerted effort to learn more about my new cellphone, I am left wondering why iPhone-ism is so hard to obtain in the world of electronic consumer gadgets.
Allow me to digress.
I have had my trusty Motorola Q for more than 3 years now. With its little color screen, and an array of tactile chiclets for a keyboard, I existed with its many features and limitations, always wondering what was it like on the “greener” side of the cellphone hill. The touch screen had always enchanted me, made me consider all the wonderful-ness there could be in being able to operate a device without buttons. A personalize-able machine that I could tailor to my own use, with my own touch. I started down this road with a Sharp Zaurus, back when PDAs were the “in” thing. If you didn’e carry a PalmPilot, or some other form of electronic assistant, you were so “80′s pen-and pad leather planner”, and it hurt. The Zaurus was so cool, with its slide down keyboard and touch screen. I used it daily until it died a horrible death after being sat upon while in my back pocket.
After a few trial-and-error experiments with other PDA phones, I happened upon a Samsung i730. It was a brick of a cellphone, but it had a touch screen, and I could make calls on it. Battery life sucked, but it looked cool… as cool as one could look while carrying a brick in their shirt pocket.
After some 3 or 4 more tries at cellphone PDAs, I said forget it, and went into separate devices. A used HP iPaq 4300 would handle PDA duties, while a Motorola Q would cover cellphone tasks. I did this for the last 3 years until my trusty Motorola Q bit the voicemail dust.
So this weekend I opted reluctantly to move back into a touch screen cellphone with the Droid Incredible. The cool touch screen feels crisp and lively, though maybe not as precise as an iPhone or iTouch device. There are tons of apps, although I can’t figure out how to get rid of or manage many of them. Battery life seems on par with an iPhone 4, as does physical size. Yet with all of the similarities, it still feels like the Droid is missing some of Apple’s mojo; that feeling of sleekness, of coolness, that sense of technological “control” that you feel with an Apple device, that childlike enchantment of using a device that does just what you expect it to do and does it well, even though you don’t really know how it does it… its that elusive “iPhone-ism”.
Chalk it up to Apple to show us – no – actually dictate to us, how a consumer electronic device should work, and how we should use it. Perhaps this is the wave of the gadget future; Big Brother showing us how we should enjoy our devices by teaching us how to use them. Its sort of like preschool – teach Johnny that a triangular shaped drawing is the letter “A”, and after awhile he gets used to calling it an “A”.
However Apple is doing it, they’re doing it and its working. As much as I hate to admit, through all of Apples corporate advertising, and through all of the hoopla that is Steve Jobs Marketing Mania 101, their devices really do work well. Apple MOJO.
Now if only I could get some of that mojo to make its way into my Droid Incredible –
Follow Gil Laroya on Twitter: