My verdict after three hours of using an iPhone

After finally escaping iPhone activation hell, I spent the evening playing — and that’s what I did, play — with my iPhone. I won’t waste time with a review of the device as there is nothing I could say that would not echo the “deserves the hype” punditry. It’s like using a Mac for the time. Or, well, I could use other analogies, but I’ll stop.

It is pure joy to use. No one — not even those who will backlash against it just because everyone else like it — will be able to dismiss how incredibly cool it is. However, my recommendation to those who are happy with their current iPod and cell-phone is this: Wait. The longer you can wait, the better off you’ll be. The iPhone I purchased yesterday will be made obsolete in a few months — not by a competitor, but by whatever Apple does with the next generation of iPods and iPhones.

My gripes concerning the activation fiasco are clearly detailed in the previous post, so it goes without saying, the Apple 1.0 of any product kinks are very much in focus. Also, as I pointed out in that post, the AT&T personnel I dealt with on the phone were pleasant, and after nine hours, helpful. Staci Kramer says reports are pegging the iBrick problem to around 2 percent of purchasers. During the weekend, some non-scientific polling at engadget gained currency — 38% of the users of engadget who may, or may not, have been messing with the poll, said they were having problems. I think the problem was far less than 38%, but greater than 2% — but that’s an educated guess. I do know this: If you were a part of the small percent of non-activated, your were 100% frustrated.

Quick reactions: After using it, I’m even more amused by the nay-sayers (before they have used the iPhone) who pick any one feature it does not have and then suggest that will be the reason it won’t be successful. In other words, those who compare it to an existing cell-phone: For example, a removable battery or memory card slot or some camera feature. Or, a keyboard. The iPhone is more than the sum of its features. It is not like any cell phone. And even if it were, the features on an iPhone swamp those found on any phone. Similar to an observation by Jason Kottke, I feel I know more about how to operate the iPhone after three hours than I know about my Treo after using one for three years. (Granted, there are some cell-phone geeks I know who actually do scour the world to find the perfect device and plan — and who have legitimate reasons for the iPhone being a non-starter: being locked to AT&T will never work for them.)

Here are just a few observations:

1. If you are able to contain yourself, wait. Surely, it will be before Christmas, but maybe not. But at some point in the next 12 months, there will be the announcement of a new iPod. And it will be the iPhone withOUT the phone. I hope it will include wi-fi. I hope it will have about 100 GB of memory. The iPhone is not the iPod of your dreams.

2. I don’t know if Apple will ever do this, but the iPhone continues to whet my desire for a device that I list as #3 of my list of all the Apple rumors you’ll ever need. I described it about a year ago as an 8×10 iPod. Not necessarily a “tablet,” but a new device that is, I’ll say it again, an iPod with a bigger screen. Add an isight camera, some legitimate broadband cellular, and you’ll have the fulfillment of the ultimate two-way video, science-fiction communications device.

3. This is the iPhone 1.0. Go back and look at the Mac 1.0 or the iPod 1.0. Those who suggest other companies will match the iPhone need to explore the features of the iPhone that are due to the Mac. Also, one needs to go back to the Steve Jobs presentation of the iPhone at Macworld and count the number of times he used the word “patent” in that presentation. I’ve never heard the word used as many times in such a short period. The iPhone’s compelling features will be hard to knock-off.

4. An interesting story to see play out over the next few years will be the Apple vs. Blackberry battle of the fruits. (Ironically, when it comes to fruit, I prefer blackberries over apples, however.) In precisely the way Macs vs. PCs are perceived as a pleasure vs. business split, the iPhone vs. Blackberry will likely come down to such a battle. “I’m an iPhone. I’m a Blackberry” ads could serve Apple on this front, as well. People are obsessed with their Blackberries. It will be interesting to see how loyal they are when they see all of the distractions one can have access to via an iPhone.

5. If you like your cell-phone service and phone, wait. If your current iPod meets your needs, wait. The iPhone points the way to some incredible products in the pipeline from Apple. But let people crazy like me waste our money on the bleeding edge.