No iPhone for me.

I’d intended to be first in line for Apple’s iPhone on Friday, but now that they’ve announced the rate plan, thank you, no. $60/month for 15 minutes of airtime each day? It’s like an iPod on a never-ending installment plan. They’ll sell you the phone with a cheaper rate plan…but they disable both the WiFi and the iPod functionality. Hell no. I’ll pay $500 for a phone, but I’ll be damned if I’ll spend $0.13/minute to use it.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

28 replies on “No iPhone for me.”

  1. My calculations put it at 21 minutes of airtime per day (don’t count weekends and evenings) and that is only during business hours since evenings and weekends are virtually unlimited. Even if it were half the minutes I’d love to get a plan like that. I’m currently paying £40/month (roughly $80) for 200 minutes + data on my blackberry but then again everything over here is expensive in comparison because the USD is in the toilet.

    Please, get the iPhone. and post pictures.

  2. And let’s not kid ourselves; the battery will probably crap out in 6 months. Then you’ll probably have to send it off to some approved service center miles away or risk voiding the warranty because God forbid that someone disassemble their own Apple product.

    If Apple made cars, the hood would be welded shut, the engine would sieze up after the first 10,000 miles and it would get about 12 miles to the gallon. But the interior would be so nice-looking and ergonomically correct that I’m sure there would be some group of people out there who would buy it.

  3. That’s surprising… When I saw the rate plans I was surprised at how cheap they were! They all come with unlimited data. Right now Kate and I pay $86/month for two phones on a family plan with 700 minutes, unlimited nights and weekends, and free mobile to mobile and unlimited data for me. The same plan with unlimited data for both of us is $110/month from Cingular. I’d say that’s a fair premium for the added functionality.

  4. I suspect that I’m a part of a large would-be iPhone-owning demographic that has never priced data plans for mobile phones. I have no idea what the going rate is. But I do know that my existing mobile will cost me $1,080 over the next two years ($45/month, including taxes), while upgrading to the iPhone will cost me $2,082.50 ($500 for the phone, $60/month, plus taxes), or a $1,000 premium over the cost of my existing phone. If I invested that $1,000 over the course of that time frame (a $522.50 up-front expense and monthly payments of $20), I expect I’d end up with something closer to $1,150 to show for it.

    So I have to decide whether the iPhone is worth $1,150 to me. If it is, I should probably decide what expense I can cut out of my life that currently runs me $20/month, to offset the difference.

    But unlimited data? That is pretty sweet. :)

  5. Actually, it’s not such a bad deal if you consider the unlimited data part. I agree with Mr. Anoop.

    I think of it like this: $40 / month for 450 minutes, which is competitive with other plans, plus $20 / month for unlimited data, which is VERY competitive with other plans.

    I wish I had a life where I was frequently in places other than my home or my office, and so could justify having one of these.

    Disclaimer: I am an unreconstructed mac fanboi.

  6. I pay $40 for 1,800 minutes from T-Mobile.

    While a deal, I’ve found that there is roughly an inverse relationship between the distance from a Starbucks and the signal strength of T-Mobile. They aren’t marketing to hillbillies. But their GSM technology is a better standard. And it works worldwide.

  7. GSM is definitely my preferred standard, but the CDMA coverage is better around here. (There are three Starbucks in town now, horrifyingly.) I actually switched from CDMA (Ntelos) to GSM (T-Mobile) while living in Blacksburg, in part because the GSM coverage was so, so much better there than the CDMA coverage.

    And TDMA…well, that just sucks.

  8. Unlimited data though. That’s badass. The real question is how freely we can change software on these things. If you can get a skype ap running on the thing… THAT is unlimited calling.

    I still agree with the NY Post. In 6 months, the next generation of iPhone will be on the horizon, with better features, many of the bugs worked out, and for the same price.

  9. I anticipate that pricing will plunge within the next 6 months. They’re going to make their splash, but they won’t make the same massive mistake that lost them the desktop wars. They’ll go for market share, or they’ll lose the opportunity to dominate the music, phone, and hand-held browsing device markets through the next decade.

    I believe in Steve Jobs, so I think he’s going to do the right thing for Apple’s long term health (note that Jobs was out when Apple lost the desktop wars). If not, the gates are wide open for some other fierce competitor(s) to steal Apple’s history making moment, and a whole lot of market share.

  10. I think the plans were a pleasant surprise to anyone who has priced data with Cingular/AT&T/Deathstar in the past. Unlimited data is the only way to go, and Sprint and T-Mobile have been the only carriers, until now, that have been reasonable in selling that.

    I’m not at all sure what Apple could do with a Rev B hardware release in 6 months that would actually be worth waiting for. Incorporate HSUPA data? Not likely. What you see is what it’s going to be. That said, you couldn’t pay me to take an iPhone. Utterly useless for email and sms. I’ve lost imaginary millions overestimating Americans’ demand for useful products, though, so ignore me.

  11. For one thing, 3G tech will be in the next version: Jobs said that it just barely missed being in this round of phones.

    I don’t see how it’s “utterly useless” for email and sms though, how does that make any sense? It’s got the largest highest quality multi-touch screen of anything outside a nokia with a way better interface for typing.

  12. How does that make any sense? Have you ever tried typing on smooth surface with absolutely no tactile feedback? I would go back to T-9 thumbing before I’d waste my time smearing out messages on this.

    I could be wrong. But I really doubt it.

    The iPhone will be a neat toy. But barring incorporation of a keyboard (say, a slider, or sidekick style), it’ll never be a useful communications device for me or anyone else who puts any value on mobile email.

  13. Respectfully disagree, MB.

    Take a look at the online tutorial and you’ll get a sense of the ease and power of this revolutionary tool. Whether or not iPhone is a mission-critical performance device, is not really worth debating. The debate is whether Apple will embrace and deepen the revolution by grabbing monstrous multi-sector market share, or whether they’ll fumble the greatest business opportunity of the decade by focusing too heavily on short term profit maximization by keeping the price too high.

    Watch this and let the technolust roll.

  14. I harbor the same concerns that MB does, though I’m not accustomed to typing on Blackberries and the like, so the comparison is only in the abstract for me. My wife has a Treo with a touch screen, and dialing on it makes me crazy. I want the tactile feedback of pushing a button, and I like being able to pass my finger two bumps to the right of the 1 (without looking) and know that my finger is now on the 3.

    There’s every reason to be optimistic about Apple’s interface. They’re obviously quite clever about their use of technology. But I think it’s fair to say that the biggest hurdle that they’ll face with acceptance of this technology is the lack of tactile feedback.

  15. Oh, AJC, you had to go and say “respectfully disagree”, didn’t you? Totally undercut my plan to note that between the belief in Jobs and characterizations that a marketing office would be proud off, I’d say we had a fanboy/girl on our hands. Betcha think that one button is all we’ll ever need, too :)

    Heh. Just poking you. From my MacBook Pro, to boot.

    But seriously, I’m not judging or attacking the software/UI. In fact, I suspect that it’ll do a surprisingly decent job of living up to the hype. But no amount of cleverness will be able to overcome the fundamental hardware failure here. Apple must be counting on its ability to convince the masses that the need another really nice toy. Me, I need less.

  16. From Walt Mossberg:

    The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

    I’ve learned never to argue with Walt Mossberg. :)

  17. Still “utterly useless” seems like a pretty bug overstatement. Most reviews, though being highly critical of other areas, seem to think the keyboard is a win: just because tactile feedback is essential to some designs doesn’t mean that it cannot be worked out to other designs.

  18. I suspect that I’m a part of a large would-be iPhone-owning demographic that has never priced data plans for mobile phones.

    I can understand that. There is a big difference between the cost of the plans with the various carriers. Until I switched to a Blackberry last month, my unlimited data plan with TMobile was $20/mo, which was part of the reason I chose TM several years ago. (That, and the fact it was GSM.)

    I pay $40 for 1,800 minutes from T-Mobile.

    That’s a heck of a deal. I have a family plan with 500 minutes, 3 phones, unlimited nights & weekends, unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes and the Blackberry unlimited data plan ($20) for about $89/mo including taxes.

    I have to admit that I’ve never been much into phones. PDAs and computers – yes, but phones – naw. The iPhone just doesn’t float my boat.

  19. I want the tactile feedback of pushing a button, and I like being able to pass my finger two bumps to the right of the 1 (without looking) and know that my finger is now on the 3.

    I agree, Waldo. For one thing, I am blind as a bat. I have found myself in the last few years typing and dialing any phone with the touch and position system. I know where the numbers are on a telephone keypad, and I use it to avoid the horrible ‘distance looking’ activity, where I need an extension of my arms to see it, or need to remove my glasses so I can see it 2 inches from my face. Maybe I should break down and get bifocals?

    The keys on most phones are getting too small, however. I do not want to be required to dial my mobile with a stylus. :)

  20. I’ve learned never to argue with Walt Mossberg. :)

    I’ve learned to be skeptical of Mossberg, when it comes to Apple products. How’s that Cube doing? :)

    But anyway, I’m pretty comfortable with the utterly useless characterization (I don’t believe that Mossberg uses his Treo nearly as much as the business consumer I have in mind). I look forward to testing out one myself in the next week, checking out more reviews, and – this is the ultimate test – seeing how many pop up in the terminal at DCA. If I’m wrong, I’ll come back and say so. But I suspect I won’t have to.

    From the review:

    and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying.

    Things do not look good for text users . . . (on the upside, that is something that could be addressed in a software update).

    (And if I sound bitter and negative, it’s because I still can’t find a suitable replacement for my Treo 650 . . . )

  21. If you haven’t already, you should check out the recent New Yorker profile of Mossberg. It was really interesting. Here’s the bit that’s relevant to our conversation:

    Mossberg concedes that he has sometimes gone overboard, as he did on September 28, 2000, when he wrote about the “museum piece” design of Apple’s new Power Mac G4 Cube, downplaying its high price and its lack of removable disks for storing or transferring files. He is swayed by “cool” designs. On being asked what column he would most like to take back, Mossberg cited his “gushy review of the Macintosh Cube.” He added, “I should have said that it was gorgeous, and a noble effort, but that its design was so radical that it couldn’t be offered at a reasonable price and with better specs, and therefore most readers should avoid it.” Mossberg did prefer Microsoft’s mouse to Apple’s, and has pointed out that the iPod Nano scratches too easily.

  22. And from Steven Levy’s review, on the topic of the keyboard:

    The people at Apple rhapsodize about the intelligent keyboard. Steve Jobs boasted that he’s pretty good at two-thumb typing, and several others at Apple claim that they are just as proficient as a Blackberry power user. So far, I’m nowhere close. It took me a couple of days to get used to hitting the right keys using a single finger. Maybe I’m a spaz, but I’m only beginning to get the hang of two-thumb typing. I an impressed, though, with the iPhone’s ability to correct misspellings, and I’ve had the best results by blasting through despite my mistakes and relying on the intelligence built into the system to correct my errors. That said, I think that for most consumers the keyboard issue may be overblown. People who see smart phones mainly as e-mail devices are a subset of the much broader audience Apple is trying to reach. If you are considering a phone primarily to monitor and reply to mail, you may stick to your Blackberry.

  23. I did see the New Yorker profile, and that’s what reminded me of his Cube review. I generally like Mossberg’s reviews, but appreciate him more for what he forces companies to do (i.e., tone down the crap).

    Apple’s posted a video on typing, and if you can’t bear the so-very-Apple “Don’t Worry, The Phone Knows Best” tone, just skip to the end to see two thumb typing. I think it’s telling that 95% of the video involves single finger index tapping. Video here.

    As Levy notes, though, maybe Apple thinks it can get by with minimal text support. I don’t understand who wants to drop $500 on a limited-feature phone just so they can watch a dramatic chipmunk, but then again, I never understood who was spending the billions of dollars a year the ringtone industry is apparently raking in.

  24. “but then again, I never understood who was spending the billions of dollars a year the ringtone industry is apparently raking in.”

    You didn’t?

    It’s teenagers. :)

  25. Why are you guys all raggin on my trusty gorgeous and power effecient cube?

    PowerPC G4 @500MHz with 1.5GB of RAM and a 120 GB internal drive and a 120GB firewire drive and it still rocks the house. Because it only burns around 30 watts running full tilt I don’t feel guilty about being on the thing all day long every day…

    So, yeah, I wish it could handle more RAM now, and that it had two internal drives, but the thing is pretty awesome for a 7 year old machine. Mossberg was right to rave about it in 2000.

    Still waffling about the iPhone. I am not sure I need a $20/month data plan…
    but visual voice mail would be SWEET

  26. Part of the calculus of my upgrade from my 1GHz G4 MDD PowerMac to my Mac mini last fall was the difference in power consumption. The PowerMac drew something like 120 watts most of the time, whereas the mini draws just 20 watts. I’d done the math as to how how much time I spend with my system asleep, and how much that the PowerMac drew while sleeping (thanks to my Kill-A-Watt), but I can’t remember what it worked out to. Anyhow, my power bill would drop by 5/6 in switching to the new system, saving me ~350 kWh of power usage annually, saving me something like $25/year.

    Ditto for he savings on moving from a CRT to an LCD. Not only do I save ~$50/year, but in the summer, my CRT radiated a lot of heat, which then had to be eliminated from the house via use of the air conditioning.

    These new toys aren’t necessarily paying for themselves, but there are some real energy savings to be had.

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