The problem with owning an iPhone, perhaps the most advanced phone on the market, is that most people on campus seem to think it really does make you a tool. YCC President Rebecca Taber defends her iPhone by noting that she never even owned an iPod, so when her Razr died last year, she considered buying an iPod and a BlackBerry Pearl. But the iPhone turned out to satisfy her needs for a lower price. She said buying a new phone without e-mail capability simply wasn’t a real option.
The News’ Editor-in-Chief Andrew Mangino ’08 said he purchased his iPhone on Taber’s recommendation. He said at the time, they were commiserating over the number of e-mails they had to deal with on a daily basis. Mangino said he loves that he can approve and reject online comments, as well as receive YDN “letters to the editor,” all on the go, and then respond promptly.
“This is a transition after eight years of Palm Pilot use, so I’d like to think that the iPhone took me down a level of toolishness,” Mangino said. “For example, it doesn’t contain finance-management software.”
Mangino was especially distraught that he had sacrificed his last cellphone, a Palm 700p, because the original Palm Pilot was designed by Yale alumna Donna Dubinsky ’77, who also served as Palm’s CEO in the mid nineties.
The reason owning an iPhone makes a person a tool is that the iPhone is pretentious, elite and expensive. I find it off-putting to discover that someone’s most distinct quality is his or her flashy new cell phone. As long as the iPhone remains so rare and so expensive, it will remain toolish in the eyes of many. Still, professors and student groups alike increasingly expect the people they e-mail on a daily basis to check their e-mail at least hourly.
Even if many Yalies want to do their best to avoid the businessman look that Taber and Mangino have been forced to adopt, having a phone that does e-mail well may actually be a logical and practical decision. Even the lowliest freshman on the News’ staff knows the value of responding to an editor’s e-mail promptly, just to secure the most controversial article. Any Yalie wants to know as soon as possible that some high-falutin’ employer in New York has just promised them a paid internship.
I think over the course of the coming months, the iPhone’s toolishness will substantially decrease. Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC and BlackBerry will all be releasing phones that incorporate a touch screen or a similar look to the iPhone. The Nokia will certainly sport a better camera, while business executives will undoubtedly choose the BlackBerry. With equally shiny and expensive competitors, the notion of owning an iPhone will become old hat.
That said, the iPhone is probably the coolest cell phone on the market. Pundits such as the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg argue that the iPhone really brought mobile Web-browsing into the mainstream.
Also, Mossberg was caught off the record guessing that the next revision of the iPhone will be released this June. He later said he was not so sure. Still, pundits and analysts alike are convinced that the new version of the iPhone, touting true broadband-Internet speeds, will come out this June. Hopefully Apple will also begin selling third-party applications then as well, essentially no longer limiting the functionality of the iPhone to only the whims of Apple’s engineers. The future of the iPhone looks fairly bright, but if you own one right now, you are most definitely a tool.
Barrett Williams is a sophomore in Trumbull College. His column appears on Wednesdays.