I'm not buying a first-gen iPhone

June 16, 2007

Everyone and their damn brother has asked me if I'm getting an iPhone on June 29th, and my "no" response always invites a very puzzled look, to which I'm compelled to offer an immediate, excited defense of my decision. After all, I've prided myself, for the better part of my life, on having "it" first, even when 99% of the population didn't start caring about "it" until some time later; cost permitting, I'm usually in the front of the line when it comes to tech ‘gadgets.'

As I've explained before, and which fear has grown more prevalent since, I'm scared of the iPhone's keyboard. Scared. I've been indelibly connected to the net for over a decade and I'm an IP attorney — I text/e-mail from my phone a lot and just don't think the iPhone is going to cut it for me. I want to be proven wrong, but I'm not going to camp out for a couple of days in front of an Apple/AT&T store on a chance that it might be good. Let me be clear here: if iPhone 1.0 was shipping with a mechanical keyboard and a 3G stack of some sort, I'd not only be first in line, I'd likely pay double what they're asking (especially in light of the direction I think the iPhone is ultimately headed).

Every time I think it may be possible for the keyboard to work well, I just harken back to the fact that when Jobs demoed it, he used his pointer finger and not his thumbs. Yes, yes, it was a pre-release demo, not everything was finalized, and Steve Jobs walks on water. But, am I to believe that in the short time since Jobs' demo it's become a robust texter? Of course not. Indeed, just last week at the WWDC Keynote, the VP of iPhone software was demoing some new app built entirely on "web standards" (more on the whole stop-gap, iPhone non-SDK thing in an upcoming post), and when punching in "john," or whatever he was searching for, he too used his pointer finger.

When is the last time you saw someone use something other than their thumbs to type on a handheld device? Never? Exactly. Oh, wait, you're right, there was that whole Graffiti thing from Palm, and Windows Mobile has had some form of handwriting recognition for years, but seriously, does anyone use these things to type complete sentences?

I think we all know I'm an Apple fanboy through and through and have turned more people onto Macs than Jobs himself (give or take a few million), but I'm no apologist and will call Apple out as quickly as I praise them.

Let's hope the keyboard is real-world usable and doesn't suck.

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