I was going through my first blog to see what I could use a fodder when I came across a link I made to a post.
I went back to read the linked post and it stunned me.
Look at this:
What the iPhone would have looked like if I was Steve Jobs
Social networking would have been front and center. It would have been a social networking device from the ground up. One that — oh, by the way — can also be used as a “telephone” or a “web browser” (yawn). And of course as an iPod and a video player etc.
It would have supported dozens of social networking concepts from the get-go. iTunes would have been expanded to take your user name and passwords for major social networking services, and then it would just suck down all the meta data it needs for the corresponding functions to work on your device.
Or, perhaps even better, Apple would roll out it’s own Web 2.0 alternatives, ones that are fully coordinated with the Mac, with iTunes, with iPods, and with the iPhone.
Photos would automatically sync with your selected photo sharing device. Instant messaging would manage multiple groups and friend lists on top of SMS, hiding control data in SMS messages from you and just showing the socially relevant data.
Location-aware signaling would be built it. The phone would sense if you were in your favorite coffee shop and flag that to friends.
The wifi software would support peer-to-peer; it would let you know what people in your vicinity are listening to; it would include a bunch of multiplayer games that you can play right away with friends (or strangers!) in your vicinity. Or anywhere! In fact, it might include traditional games like chess with direct support for a global iPhone chess ranking.
Calendar would sync with online services, not wait to be connected with a big, ugly PC. It would be extended to support stuff like movies, shows, bands, local events, etc.
Video, of course, with automatic syncing with my own location on the web for storing and editing them.
Messaging would be integrated into a single view, with iconic/font/color indicators to separate news items, blog entries, text messages, chats, etc. You have full control to organize all the streaming sources into one or more distinct “pages”.
Red emphasis added by me.
And here is a fundamental difference between the iPhone — still! — and the Pre:
What struck me already from the early reviews was that Apple seems to fundamentally not understand social networking, and the potential that a brand new mobile platform could have for that. It’s a generational thing, I guess. Steve is even older than I am, and I’m having a real hard time keeping up with the times. Plus he’s busier than I am.
Unless you’ve been spending time with all the new communication flavors out there – stuff like Flickr, Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, last.fm, the RSS universe, etc etc – you won’t notice the egregious strategic blunder that Apple is in the midst of making. The mainstream reviewers certainly haven’t picked up on it.
The thing is, the use of mobile devices for social networking is something that has been forced into the current platforms out there. There are all sorts of obscure ways to leverage text messaging infrastructure to support higher semantic notions like chat rooms, instant messaging, bulletin boards, classifieds, etc.
I was actually in the room when Steven Jobs first announced the iPhone at Macworld earlier this year. I was immediately struck by his emphasis of desktop/iPod-oriented features; using the telephone, using the calendar, todo lists, listening to music. That’s the stuff the 1990s generation did, and they do it on their desktops. The 21st century kids – and workers! – have other frameworks. They chat; they blog; they share their music playlists; they listen to internet radio; they play text RPG-like games on wikis; they argue on bulletin boards; they exchange pictures and phone/webcam videos; they watch youtube; they post video responses to youtube.
The new generation doesn’t use the phone. They don’t call somebody to discuss a document. They just change the wiki entry and they know any subscribers to changes will be notified. They chat. They update their emo trackers with mood and location like “wd market, nw” [walking down market, nice weather]; and so forth.
Yeah, they got youtube. But only because Google had bought them. And you can’t post to youtube from the iPhone. Even if you could post, you can’t actually make a video with the iPhone.
You can’t even leave a friggin comment on the youtube service.
And at root is this, he surmises:
Here’s my theory. Apple can only do really interesting products if Steve Jobs understands the end user. And Jobs does not understand the 21st century computer usage paradigm. In this century, people don’t send memos to each other. And that’s what email is – electronic memos.
Whereas outside of Steve Jobs’s view:
Today, people chat; they blog; they share multimedia like pictures, video, and audio; they flame each other on forums; they link with each other in intricate webs; they swap effortlessly between different electronic personae and avatars; they listen to internet radio; they vote on this that and the other; they argue on wiki discussion groups.
Again: I won’t knock the iPhone. But I will say that I think the people behind the Palm Pre understand today’s market in a way Apple has so far not grasped.
And that’s why I find the Palm Pre appealing.