I turned into the parking lot of my small neighborhood AT&T outlet this morning, and there was a long line.
I didn't expect that. So, no iPhone today. If Apple is true to form they'll run out soon, and I'll have several weeks to wait. Not all bad, since Apple's initial hardware releases almost always have significant defects.
Apple is not a reliability company, just in case you didn't notice that they've cratered their .Mac service in a fumbled transition to Mobile.me. Of course Gmail was out of order too a couple of days ago. I've got to get over my boomer fetish for reliability, and remember how I lived in Bangkok in the 80s.
My pending iPhone transition means I've been working out how to transfer hundreds of notes and tasks, thousands of calendar items and contacts, and hundreds of encrypted passwords from my Palm Tungsten E2 to some combination of the iPhone and the Cloud. My preliminary investigations on the task side have had grim results.
This is going to take a while. A few years ago I confidently pronounced that I was done with my Tungsten E2. Then, after the initial iPhone disappointed, I figured I'd buy one more E2 -- but that was it. Well, now that the E2's power switch has died exactly like every Palm I've bought in the past 6-7 years I'm thinking there may be another cheapo Palm in my future. Maybe their very lowest end device.
The problem is that from a classic PDA/productivity perspective, the incredibly powerful iPhone is a shadow of my first 1997 PalmPilot/Palm Desktop, much less the uber-geek DateBk# Palm productivity app.
Which says something interesting about the nature of elegant design -- it's always contextual. From some perspectives the iPhone is a brilliant design, from other perspectives it's an empty shell.
No joke. Recently I wrote: "Both tasks and global search were well supported in the very first PalmPilot I bought around 1997 or so. From the perspective of native applications that I need all the time, the iPhone is a large regression from 1997."
Which brings me to the interesting bit of this post. The Palm/iPhone regression is part of a longer trend. The Apple Newton was a very serious productivity/calendaring/task platform. The Palm was an elegant but simpler solution to the same problem set. The endlessly incompetent Microsoft Mobile/etc products tried to tackle the same space, but suffered from truly lousy design. The much-worshiped Blackberry is significantly less elegant and competent than the Palm, and today's iPhone is yet another drop down -- even when combined with the Cloud.
I knew that the 1997 Palm Desktop/Palm device combination was exciting and impressive, but I really didn't think it was the best I'd see for the next decade!
We've just about hit bottom, but things aren't quite hopeless. Even with its currently crippled sync connector the iPhone is a powerful software platform. There once were millions of people who loved the Palm approach to basic calendar and task management. There's a niche for a small but (alas, this is essential) brilliant group of people to reverse engineer DateBk4 (for example), fully understand what it does and why, then to create a truly native iPhone/Cloud equivalent. The people who need this functionality this will pay $200 a year for a combination of iPhone and Cloud software and services. (Free hint, think about the work/personal and calendar overlay problem from day one.)
There are a million of us in the english speaking nations alone. $200 million/year, guaranteed, isn't a bad revenue stream for a small company.
Hmm. Maybe I can find a frustrated billionaire who wants a solution ...