UPDATE: The real details of the real iPhone 4 are, of course, now available.
Today, Steve Jobs will announce the new iPhone, colloquially known as the ‘4G’, though more likely sold as the iPhone HD. Despite sterling efforts, nobody has been able to reveal any substantial information about it, because Apple is highly secretive about new products. Yet the Telegraph’s Consumer Technology Editor, Matt Warman, managed to publish a piece* before the weekend advising consumers of the 4G’s key weaknesses.
How did he do it? Inside information? Nope. Educated guesswork? Not really. No, Matt got the jump on every other tech pundit across the globe simply by basing his article on a combination of stuff about previous iPhones, stuff he made up, and stuff that doesn’t even make enough sense to be right or wrong.
I don’t normally pick on every mistake by a fellow tech writer; I’m sure I make plenty myself. But this was egregious, as a lot of other people very quickly pointed out in the comments. Then they had their comments ‘moderated’ to remove criticisms that Matt, or someone at the Telegraph, didn’t like. In fairness, nutters writing abusive rubbish in comments can be annoying for everyone. I’m not quite sure that well-informed factual rebuttals by a well known tech writer and respected academic really fall under that heading, but, you know, it’s a grey area. No it isn’t.
Today, Matt tweets:
I am still waiting for anybody to point out an inaccuracy
Maybe those comments were redacted before even Matt got to read them. So let’s not keep him waiting any longer.
* * *
1) It’s expensive: Buy the top-of-the-range Blackberry or Android handset and you will still pay a lot less than the extortionate prices Apple charge
Nobody knows any details at all of iPhone 4G tariffs. Perhaps Matt has been listening to the same Carphone Warehouse salesperson that told me this week the 4G would be ‘around £60 a month’. This was obviously based on exclusive advance information and not any desire to upgrade me to a 3GS and get his commission. (He didn’t clarify what the imaginary price of the hardware would be on this imaginary tariff, or what calls or data would be included.)
Meanwhile, in real life, on O2 the iPhone 3GS is £149 + £35/mo or £179 + £30/mo. A BlackBerry Storm 2 or 9700 Bold is £149 + £25/mo. So, less expensive, yes; ‘a lot’, perhaps not very accurate; ‘extortionate’, judge for yourself.
2) It’s anti-technology: When the iPhone launched it was cutting edge – now as other manufacturers announce, for instance, that you can use their phones as shareable wifi hot spots, Apple says no.
Nice use of ‘for instance’ to mean ‘just one thing, but let’s make it sound like there might be more’. A couple of HTC phones support this feature. The next version of Google’s Android OS is also said to enable it, but that doesn’t mean WiFi sharing will actually be supported by the networks. ‘We’d imagine any operator offering Android phones will be clamping down on their data tariffs sharpish,’ reckons TechRadar. So Apple is unlikely to be alone in saying no in this instance. All the other instances we’ll have to leave to Matt’s imagination.
In other news, apparently failing to make available free of charge any feature that might theoretically be possible using current technology is ‘anti-technology’. There’s a lot of it about, then.
3) No Flash: The iPhone, the phone that promised to put the web into everybody’s pockets, can’t even show you most of it, because it can’t handle Flash graphics.
Now, I’m the last person to defend Apple’s ban on Flash. Really, the last. But Matt’s reality distortion field is working even better than Steve’s. ‘Most’ of the web uses Flash? Really? How accurate is that?
And how rare is it, really, to find a phone that doesn’t support Flash? I mean, for the user, does it make any difference whether their handset maker specifically prohibits Flash or, as on most phones, it just doesn’t work?
* * *
4) No multitasking: Tried instant messaging on an iPhone? Oh yes, you have to open the app to see if you’ve got a message.
On an iPhone 3G/S, true. It’s annoying! Good job we already know this is changing in iPhone OS 4. You know, the operating system Apple has written for the new iPhone. The iPhone Matt is supposedly talking about.
Also annoying for Matt: going to the doctor. They put all leeches and stuff on you, eww. What, they don’t do that now?
5) Its battery life is terrible
Well, as anyone knows who’s ever commissioned reviews of tech gear, it’s almost impossible to judge real world battery life from a specs list.
Oh, wait. Nobody’s seen a specs list for the iPhone 4G.
So Matt must be talking about… D’OH!
Does presenting pure speculation as fact count as inaccurate? If you were going to speculate accurately, you’d probably say battery life is the single most common complaint about the iPhone, and thus something Apple is quite likely to want to address. That’s the Apple who recently launched the iPad, with its much talked-about ten-hour battery life. Hmm. I don’t want to do myself out of a specialist job here, but it doesn’t seem all that hard to be more accurate than Matt.
6) Developing apps for it is costing you money: The special version of the BBC iPlayer, of Natwest Phone Banking, of Eon’s meter reader – developing all of these came out of money that could have been channelled away from a self-important minority and towards more generally useful ideas.
Yes folks, Matt is the Telegraph’s first full-time Maoist. How dare organisations make their own choices about which platforms to target? They must serve only the glorious majority.
Matt’s Five Year Plan of App Development:
- Identify which platform is most popular. Not the most popular mobile platform – that would be iPhone. You’re only allowed the one most popular platform of any kind. Scratch that, the platform that’s most used, whether or not anyone actually likes it. So that’s Windows desktop web browsers then. Phew, not made by Apple – plan holding up so far.
- Develop a service specifically for that platform. Do not use any method that could make this service trivial to port to some other platform.
- Still got development budget? Spend it tweaking that same service for that same platform. Under no circumstances ever develop another service (or the same service, see above) for another platform, no matter how fragmented the market or what the demographics may tell you. Because that would be wrong.
* * *
7) It comes with offensively bad headphones
An audio device? That comes with headphones? And the makers spent all the money on the audio device, and next to nothing on the headphones? Which you can easily replace? With the kind of headphones you personally happen to like? Or even a favourite pair of headphones that, as somebody who gives a shit about headphones, you already have? Thus losing nothing because the maker didn’t spend any significant part of your money on the bundled headphones anyway, just threw some average ones in so that people who didn’t give a shit about headphones would have something to listen with?
The dirty bastards.
I think Matt understates Apple’s culpability here. The worst part is that now Apple has come up with this ‘shipping cheap headphones with a good quality audio device’ trick, other manufacturers might start doing it too. I know this may seem paranoid, but I can already think of at least one time I’ve had this experience with a non-Apple audio device.
Hang on, that was in 1983, before mobile phones existed. Curse you, Sony! Jobs must have got his weaselly consumer-hostile ideas from that visit to the Walkman campus.
Matt goes on:
It’s another example of Apple charging premium prices, but delivering a dressed up, budget product.
Another example! In addition to the… zero examples we’ve already heard from Matt. These instances and examples are elusive little blighters, aren’t they?
Of course, the poor headphones do indeed prove that the whole iPhone is merely a dressed-up budget product. Pfffft, anyone could make that market leading-assed piece of crap.
* * *
8) It’s not very well designed
*boggles* I’m sorry?
8) It’s not very well designed
*hushes pitchfork-bearing crowd of industrial design experts* In what way, exactly?
Use the iPhone as a phone and it’s not got great reception, nor is it particularly comfortable to use for long periods.
Umm. Isn’t that whole reception thing more about the first-gen iPhone? You know, like, three years ago? I don’t have any problem with my 3G (not even S). Obviously I can’t swear that the 4G won’t revert to questionable voice quality, because I haven’t seen it yet.
Oh! But nor has Matt. I wonder when these long periods of use occurred?
And what phone is he comparing it to? Just about every phone I’ve seen recently is a flat rectangle the size of a, well, iPhone. What exactly are the ergonomic benefits of rival flat rectangles? Are different colours more comfortable? If so, I have a feeling Apple has the answer to that. (See, I just gave you more inside info on the 4G than exists in the whole of Matt’s article.)
9) It charges for satnav: In an age when Nokia and Google Android provide completely free mapping and satnav facilities
‘In an age when’? That age only started this year. When a couple of other phone vendors, desperate to claw back users from Apple, cast around for stuff they could bundle free, and picked satnav. Right, to make this a fair comparison, let’s have a quick trawl through the free apps on the iPhone App Store and see what features you can get for free on your iPhone that Nokia doesn’t give you. See you in about a month.
10) Those iPod docks are holding back better technologies
if it wasn’t for the iPod and iPhone’s ubiquity, there’d be more wifi radios, more new technologies and a range of different options, competing and driving innovation.
So… What we need, if I’m correctly following Chairman Matt’s groundbreaking economic theory, is new products that are really good, but not good enough to become popular.
That’s not inaccurate. It’s just insane.
Comments are open, folks.
*I know. I linked him. He won. Gnnnn.