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  D.F.'s Column Archive


July 9, 2007

Release of iPhone Means More Product Launch Silliness


Apparently something called the iPhone hit the market this week. It was one of the biggest business stories of the year.


I was sleeping. From the looks of the crowds streaming out of electronics stores toting their new iPhones, I was the only one. A missed opportunity. How many of their houses could I have robbed while they were milling in the store marveling at the features?


If you download the right tools, it lets you edit Word and Excel documents. I heard a rumor you can talk to people on it, but at press time confirmation is not yet at hand.


Everyone, and I mean everyone, had to have an iPhone. My Sprint Ultraslim already looks lame in comparison, and I only got it four months ago.


The iPhone is the flat, shiny, icon-infested, adult Tickle Me Elmo. You didn’t quite have the brawls in the aisles among aggressive shoppers this time. It was more like a big party where they’re passing out blinking wafers, and everyone just stands there looking like a smiling cabbage-patch doll waiting for their wafer.


When they get it?


“Wafer!” It looks so good, you don’t have the heart to eat it. So you just run your fingers over the flat plastic screen and wait to see if a video of Steve Jobs will pop up telling you that you’ve made it in life.


Every so often we get one of these product launches where the news media fall all over themselves to cover the event – guaranteeing huge sales and a mini-cultural phenomenon. Those who have heard about the new thing, whatever it is, just have to have it.


I realize that, by lampooning the iPhone phenomenon, I risk sounding like someone 20 years ago who would have fallen on the floor laughing at anyone who got excited about a device that would sit on your lap, use to send messages, listen to music, watch movies, write columns . . . you know, a laptop? The very thing that makes my life palatable by relieving me of the scourge of having to sit in an office when I don’t feel like it.


I know, I know. But still!


These darn things are changing so fast. That iPhone you bought today is going to change your life, until six months from now when iPhone 5.0 is trumped by iPhone 6.0, and you’re heading back to Best Buy yet again.


Few consumer products companies are better than Apple at creating the pre-product-launch sillies. The Appleians have a way of getting people to walk through the streets with arms extended and a glazed look in their eyes, saying, “I hear Steve! And I obey Steve!”


Of course, these same people are now griping because some features, like games, actually require you to download additional software. The nerve! This is a phone, for crying out loud! How can it not have built-in games?


Remember rotary dial phones that sat on a desk or were affixed to the wall? Remember trying to stretch the cord far enough so you could talk to Aunt Bertha while doing the dishes? Remember pulling the phone out of the wall trying?


You do? OK, well, that’s all. There’s no phone that can compete with the iPhone as a conversation piece, and certainly not as a media phenomenon. But the rotary phone was a staple in the house for the better part of 20 years before we got those push-button gadgets, and surely some snarky humor columnist had a field day with those things.


The iPhone? It will be obsolete technology before the Kansas City Royals are eliminated from the pennant race, and that’s happening roughly next week. Enjoy your purchase! Steve is very very proud of you. At least until a week from Thursday.


Then, it will be time to get with the in crowd once again.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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