Is the iPhone a Dud for Serious Business Users?
In an editorial today, Engadget’s EIC notes that he can’t effectively work—as in, do things he would normally do to be productive—using the iPhone 3GS. As someone who used to do a lot of work from his Danger Sidekick, a device far less powerful than even the first iPhone, I’ve found myself on the cusp of writing the same editorial many times. Ironically, that urge has always hit me when I’ve been in the middle of having problems using the iPhone to do any work, and since writing an editorial qualifies as work, it’s been just as much of a pain to try and write the editorial on the iPhone as anything else. By the time I’ve returned to my Mac, there have been better things to write about.
Engadget says, pointedly, that “[a]t the end of the day, it’s nice to stick the ‘we love business users’ line into your PR, but it’s quite another thing to make it real.” It’s an interesting point, and one that we’ve been hearing a lot about in anecdotal conversations over the past 6 or 12 months. Everyone heard the stories of how Blackberry Storm users returned the problematic devices within days of purchase, but the story we’ve heard recently is that business professionals—wooed by Apple’s apps-for-everyone pitch—have been returning iPhones, too, blaming the lack of a real keyboard for their inability to actually get anything done on the devices. Then they buy Blackberries. We understand this, and have been struggling ourselves with the same problems for two years now. Our productivity has dropped a lot, and the iPhone’s input scheme is the single biggest reason why.
Some devices were designed as communications tools first, and media players second; that was the story with the Sidekick, which had a relatively awesome little keyboard that could hammer out everything from articles to e-mails with great speed. The iPhone was designed in the opposite direction, as were many of the apps, which started as modestly updated versions of iPod menu items: back when the iPod touch was first released, for instance, Apple was struggling with whether to even let users edit content on the touch as they could on the iPhone. Originally, the concept was “iPods play things, they don’t create things.” Voice Memos changed that a little back in 2003, and the wall came down entirely in early 2008 as the artificial software dividing line between iPhones and iPod touches essentially disappeared.
Yet Apple’s pocket devices have never been as strong as they could be: whether for games or business apps, developers are always forced to shoehorn input functionality into the iPhone OS’s limited controls. Instant messaging apps are cramped by a keyboard and status bar that consume half of the screen. Games are all but forced to make you put fingers on top of their graphics or turn the devices on off-angles for control. The strength of being able to relabel and redefine some buttons on an app-by-app basis is great, but a proper physical keyboard is a necessary second component. Haptic feedback isn’t going to do it. Buttons are what’s necessary for business users. And we’ll gladly pay for them.
Engadget’s other comment is that multitasking is a glaring omission, and yes, there’s no doubt that it is, even in the wake of push notifications going live. But between the current devices’ 480x320 screen real estate, seriously deficient batteries, and other factors, it’s quite possible that the iPhone OS isn’t quite ready yet for true multitasking. For now, a keyboard would go further towards making the device useful, and it’s time to make it happen.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple
- Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct
- Apple adds nine more apps to universal search in Apple TV
- WSJ: iPhone to see modest changes this year, eliminate headphone jack
- China tightening restrictions on mobile games starting next month
- Supreme Court patent ruling bodes well for future Apple cases
- Apple to pay $400M to consumers over e-book price fixing case
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation
- Twelve South BookBook for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Spigen Rugged Armor, Style Armor + Wallet S for iPhone SE
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app