Now, That’s Incredible Mobile

Some time back I shared that I would be leaping from my steam driven and coal fired Palm Treo to the then brand spanking new Palm Pre. I was met with a price plan that prohibited me from making that commitment. Thank God! I was thankfully spared from investing in what my friend Lisa Foote now calls “a dead phone walking.”

Since that time I have been patiently waiting for a phone that fulfilled my mobile needs. One that offered all the utility I seek (fast web, good service, access to apps, plenty of power) while still having a look and feel that didn’t say, “I’m sensible..not sexy.” I have a Volvo wagon that handles that just fine, thanks.

Last week the fine folks at Verizon offered me a chance to take the HTC Incredible, officially labeled the Droid Incredible, for a spin. The Incredible is on my short list of phones to which to commit, along with the iPhone (on anything but AT&T), or the HTC EVO and I was anxious to put the phone and it’s Android platform through it’s paces.

Disclaimer: This won’t be an overly “techie” review. Those who develop and program for the smartphone market are far more qualified to do that. In fact, Breon Nagy does a stellar job in his latest review. Mine will be from a more hands on “do all the bells and whistles really work for me” viewpoint. Yes, there will be a bit of spec verbiage, but I’ll try and answer the “Yeah, but what does that mean.” questions. Should you crave a little geek speak, you can see the full specs here.

Let’s get started. When unboxing this phone I distinctly heard a distant chorus of angels. Now hold up…this isn’t an all sunshine and rainbows review…there are some things that bother me about this phone, but Verizon’s Incredible delivers a damn good looking phone, so I was visually impressed right away. It’s a look and feel is sleek and sexy, something the flagship Droid, with it’s hard edges and multi-layer design, failed to deliver. The front slick black design with only a small, well recessed track-ball and the slightly rounded edges of the device feel good in the hand. The “topographical” back puzzles me a bit but it’s flat black finish does make it easier to hold on to what looks as slippery as a buttered newt.

I’m not thrilled by the narrowness of the phone in my rather long hands, nor am I crazy about how the camera lens of the hefty 8 megapixel camera protrudes so much, but the features and benefits of both make it easy to get past this. My guess is that a protective case will alleviate both issues should you decide to use one.

The Incredible is currently “state of the art” in the Android arena. Running on Android 2.1 (the latest version) and offering 3G connectivity this bad boy is plenty powerful. Upon turning the phone on with the top mounted power button the 3.7 inch screen jumped to life. It’s clear, colorful and easy to read. I even found it so in direct sunlight.

The phone offers good-looking wallpaper choices including “Live” wallpaper. The moving colorful wallpaper would have kept me entertained for hours back in the partying’ days of college. Kinda like your own little Who concert light show. The ability to customize the desktop to your liking is available in seven different screens. These screens are part of the Sense user interface and allow you to divide up the content the way you want as well as offering established themes (Travel, Social, etc.) with a host of available widgets.

Being a big fan of a real keyboard I was concerned about adapting to the virtual keyboard the Incredible sports. I was pleasantly surprised. The “keys” are quite large in landscape but even in portrait view, I had little to complain about. The web browsing and access was lightning quick (relatively speaking) thanks to the Snapdragon processor.

I was able to take advantage of some of those apps and widgets I mentioned during the short time I had the phone. I navigated to a few destinations with the turn by turn directions offered as part of Android Google maps app and tried a host of Twitter apps (ultimately settling on HootSuite Lite). I was looking forward to using the the FM radio app, which requires you to plug in earbuds for an antenna. In a word, the FM radio blows. Reception was poor even with strong city-grade signals. Consumers always name the FM tuner as a feature they want included in their MP3 device. It’s too bad this doesn’t deliver more than the look of FM and not the sound.

My MP3 library sounded fine and allowed me the appropriate amount of crankage for individual tracks. The hefty amount of on-board memory and the SD card slot offers plenty of room for even the heftiest of libraries. App-wise, I found easy access to most of what I was looking for in the Marketplace and the phone offered no hiccups or problems as I added and deleted applications.

Of note is that third party applications available for the phone will require that SD card to run them. The card easily plugs into the side of the phone under that back cover and Verizon will give you a free 2GB card if you purchase an Incredible before May 31st. This is a memory management thing that I’m sure will be fixed in later versions. But for now the extra space you get with the card doesn’t hurt!

The camera quality is a real standout for the phone…OK, it kicks ass. The 8 megapixel camera delivered great photos and video recording. My iPhone lovin’, 3 megapixel camera slave colleagues were quite impressed. The dual LED flash is a nice addition for indoor shooting though it can leave subjects a bit washed out if you’re too close.

With a device such as this battery life is always a concern. Though I gave the Incredible quite a work out, I didn’t find myself cursing a low battery. I spent the entire day live blogging and Tweeting from the Minnesota High Tech Association conference and had no issues. I used up about 3/4 of the battery but the ability to charge the phone via it’s USB cable (and included wall adapter) made it easy to get a little bump when needed.

A quick note about coverage area. Being one who is currently a free agent when it comes to cell service (I’m out of contract on all three of the phones in my account) I was anxious to get a taste of the Verizon network. While I never dropped a call, the “one bar” of service I get at my home south of Minneapolis is not better than my Sprint coverage. In downtown Minneapolis, I wallowed in four screaming bars and 3G…but I don’t live there. Kind of disappointing…but not a deal-breaker.

Why? Because this phone is all that and a bag of chips. I think the whole quest of the “iPhone killer” is pointless (though incredibly flattering to Mr. Jobs and company) but you would have to consider the Incredible on par with it. Maybe it’s the iPhone “wounder”.  The phone delivers ease of use, plenty of power, all the apps you’ll really need and access to a rabid Android community. That community is so into the platform they will gladly step out and help any “noob” who needs some assistance.

Pre-orders are being taken now online and the phone itself hits stores on April 29th. The cost is set at $199.00 including a 2-year commitment and after an instant rebate. You’ll need the voice and text plan data plan as well as the data plan to use the Incredible. If you go with an individual plan, you’ can get into this bad boy for about $80 a month.

(Photo courtesy of Pixar and Phandroid)

Apple iS late?

I guess it’s for sure. In a matter of weeks we will see the Apple Tablet. What isn’t for sure is the name, but the iSlate? Um…I think not. Really…Apple iS late. Nope not gonna happen. Apple is never late for anything…or at least they have always managed to position it that way.

Apple has been responsible for a lot of game-changing. The launch of so many of their products have gone on to alter the way we use technology though they haven’t really been first to the party. The Macintosh set a standard in the PC biz…well after the PC existed. The iPod made MP3 listening sexy and altered the music industry…while there were already plenty of MP3 players on the market. And, most recently, the iPhone forever changed the smartphone industry and remains the gold standard…after the Treo and Blackberry blazed the trail. But I’m not quite so sure the launch of the tablet will be as big a game changer.

I love Apple “stuff”. I prefer my Mac over my PC every time. I also think it’s great to see the anticipation build when a new product is imminent. My Apple fanboy friends are downright giddy when things are cookin’ at Apple. To see their expressions, to listen to them wax poetic, to get caught up in it all…it’s fun.

The earmarks are there, I guess. The small netbook thing is kinda “meh” with most consumers being cool with either a small screen that a smartphone provides or the larger screen that the laptop provides. And portable is where it’s at and we all know iPod Touch has been a huge success. In fact, this could easily be the next “stuff already exists to do everything this does…but it’s much cooler” product in Apple’s stable. But this time around, for some reason, I’m not as moved. Why is that?

Is it that this time, one of the biggest claims made by the industry is that the tablet could save the publishing industry? Will it do that?

I doubt the problem facing the newspaper and magazine business, figuring out how to make money from online content, is going to be magically fixed.

Perhaps the iTunes and iPhone app concept of delivering content to the tablet, allowing some sort of “micro payment” model, will emerge. But the producers/publishers of this content would be nuts not to offer that same content to the desktop or even mobile platforms.

The same thing goes for other obvious audio and video offerings online that will find themselves available
to the tablet. I can get it all the videos and music I want on my
laptop or phone.

Maybe the tablet will make it cooler to
watch and use…especially when other people see me doing it. And perhaps that’s the more likely outcome. The tablet will make viewing this stuff more sexy (and Apple knows sexy) and that might be cool enough.

Maybe that’s why I’m not as caught up in the excitement. I’m use to the good looking, easy to use, innovative Apple product, so it’s a bit anti-climatic. Maybe I need something more than a really big iPod touch. In addition, I may be harboring some deeper media concerns. I’d hate to think those in the print and broadcast media are waiting around for Apple to save their keisters.

We’ll find out what impact such a device will have in the months to come. In the meantime I’ll be impressed with how Apple can inspire all the hoopla…as well as innovation and raise awareness of technology, without ever seeming to be late.

Image courtesy of Disney

Is Keeping Up Holding You Back?

This morning…7am…me, at the computer. This
morning…11:30am…me, at the computer. Holy crap! I haven’t showered
yet much less seen my kids. I think my wife said goodbye before she
went to work? Did the dog get fed?

it! This has happened to you. Especially if you work anywhere in the
online, interactive, social media or IT space. You have to know what’s
going on, who’s doing what, and have “they” released the next big

I’ve talked about this all consuming online world into which we’ve
entered before. The “time suck” is incredible and no amount
of apps, systems, gadgets or gizmos will ever satisfy the need to know.
This morning was typical for me if I allow myself to paste my eyes on
my computer screen. I check my email, read my many newsletters, review
the feeds in my reader, I scroll through the latest posts on Mashable,
Engadget, LifeHacker, etc. I follow the links to the beta invites, try
out the new apps, build an icon with the latest…er…icon builder.

Every time I make a presentation, participate on a panel,
or talk to clients it’s the number one question: “Where do I find the
time to keep up?” As I’ve said before and as Harvard Ph. D Alexandra
noted in her post…You don’t. And that’s OK.

goes on to make a very important point. While I’m spending all this
time keeping up, I’m only furthering someone elses project, system, app
or gadget and not spending anytime on my own. The quote of my day was
from Samuel…

“The minute you stop trying to keep up, you open a far more exciting possibility: getting ahead with what matters to you, your team and your business.”

truer words were never uttered. The “time suck” will kill your plans
for your business, family, or global domination if you let it. Cut your
time “keeping up” in half. You’ll suddenly find more time
to spend furthering your own goals.

That next big thing?
Believe me, if it is “big” enough you won’t miss it. On the other hand,
you might even be responsible for it…if you make the time.

A Gadget Guy’s Broken Heart

A few days ago I shared that I had decided to give it up for a Palm Pre on June 6th when it rolled out. As noted in my comments on that post and through my tweets on the same subject, I’ve spent a great deal of time on the phone with Sprint talking price plans. As of today, it looks like my first ever attempt at being “one of the first” to get a new smart-phone has been thwarted…and it’s breaking my gadget guy heart… But it’s also provided me with a decent customer service experience and a chance to  learn a few things.

Here’s the scoop, I walked into my local Sprint store and was told that I would need to upgrade all of the phones on my current account to handle the data plan that the Pre will require to operate in full bells and whistles mode. The only data plan currently available for the Pre. At first, I thought, “There’s probably a better price that ‘Mr. Personality’ at this particular Sprint outlet doesn’t know about.” So, off to Sprint Customer Service I went.

After many emails I found out that ‘Mr. Personality’ appeared to be right. This upgrade in plan is necessary for a Pre and represents about a $600 annual increase in my phone expense. Okay look, two of the phones on my plan only require voice and text, so
I don’t need the internet, video or the ability to stream TV on those
phones as it appears that is what the Pre needs…though I doubt it. In
addition, the monthly voice minutes would either far exceed anything I would ever need or go down across the
three phones. Now I realize that the additional expense is not all that
much (by early adopter standards) but I have a real hard time paying
something that I don’t need or won’t use. And within the current economic landscape,
paying for it is really foolish.

Not content with this email exchange I took Sprint up on an offer, made in one of the emails, to call them. Robert was incredibly helpful as he methodically dissected my plan and looked for the best possible way to get me as close to my current expenditure without services I didn’t need. Well, as hard as he tried, it couldn’t be done. Sprint is just plain set on pushing the increase in fees to all existing customers, no matter how long they’ve been with them or how many phones they have.

I applaud Robert for working so hard at this. The fact is that customer challenges will arise and how the company’s people handle it is the true judge of customer service. But, no matter how pleasant and helpful Robert was, a satisfactory rate was not to be had. Too bad.

Here’s some of what I learned from the experience, other than I’ll likely be holding off on the Palm Pre purchase:

  • Sprint customer service was generally positive. Robert even suggested that I wait and see what happens after the roll-out. Plans change once the bloom is off the rose. This, of course I know. But I had real gadget envy going.
  • There sure is a hell of alot of chatter about the Pre in the social media space.Though in all my tweeting about this on @plam_pre_for_me and my posts here, I received zero contact from Sprint or Plam, so they are either not monitoring the social stream or they have chosen not to reach out via that channel.
  • With this delay in purchasing the Pre, I can actually wait and see what the iPhone upgrades and rumored new AT&T plans could offer me. I may be able to move to the super-model sexy standard in smart-phones for less than I think.
  • My insistence on being logical does not allow me to be a “stand in line for the first one” kind of guy.

Oh well, my heart will heal. I’ll just have to continue saving myself for that perfect phone.

I’ve Been Saving Myself For the Right Phone…

…and I’ve decided to give it up for the Palm Pre!

Okay, it’s pretty clear that I’ve gotten in touch with my “inner-geek”, right? While that may be a fairly recent realization for me, I have always been a “gadget guy”. And there is no better gadget for me right now than a really cool smartphone.

The challenge for me has been deciding on when and to which “phone” should I commit. I mean, c’mon this is a big step. While maybe I’ve fooled around with a Treo 650 for years, taking that next step, allowing myself to care deeply enough for a phone for which I am willing to give it up (the “it” being my cash and possible two year contract) has taken plenty of will power and more than a few iPhone/Android induced cold showers.

 But I’m going to do it. On June 6th I’m going to step on up and lay down my money for a Palm Pre. The reasons are many. Some logical and some down right emotional and perhaps irrational. Let’s start with the emotional/irrational.

Top of the list: It’s not an iPhone. Blasphemy! I know! I’m a big fan of Apple. I crossed over from a PC last year and have been thrilled ever since. I’m an even bigger fan when I’m cursing my Windows machine, which I still use more than I’d like. But the fact is, I know the iPhone is great. I know that it is the standard by which all mobile devices are judged. I know I can always count on two of my colleagues at Minnov8, Steve Borsch and Graeme Thickins (as well as many with whom I hang) to go on and on about how the iPhone has changed their lives. They record with it, shoot video, edit, Skype, listen to music, comb their hair, make toast, blah, blah, blah. Yes indeed, in Apple’s words, “there’s an app for that.” But I want something different.

What about a G1 Android phone you say? Well, here’s another emotional response…It ain’t at all sexy. I could have given in to the Google phone…believe me I was tempted. It satisfied my “not an iPhone” criteria, it’s all about open source, and I was slightly swayed by some pimpin’ from my mobile developer business partner Justin Grammens. But the truth is, it’s a brick and not all that good to look at. Okay, I’m sorry if I’m being shallow and superficial but I just don’t want to wake up with “that” every morning.

Okay, so how about some rational reasons to pick up the Pre.

Let’s talk about the ability to multi-task. The Pre allows multiple applciations to be open and working at the same time. Though there may be “an app for that” for the iPhone, you need to run those apps one at a time. Running multiple apps at the same time sounds more like a mobile browser than a mobile phone.

Admittedly the apps are fewer for my…oops, I got a little premature there…I mean…the new Pre, but the fact that it’s is built on the WebOS platform means developers can easily work in Java, HTML, and CSS. OK that was real geek speak way of saying the it’s easier to build applications for the Pre3 and that means an explosion of apps should be around the corner.

Call me old fashioned but I like the concept fo the slide out QWERTY keyboard. Look, though I’ve been typing (or keyboarding as you kids say) for years and frankly, I still suck at it. A touchscreen keybord only makes it worse.

Also, if you’re to believe the hype, the battery life should be pretty sweet. Oh, and the wireless charger should make it easy to juice back up. (Yeah, I’m not thrilled by the fact that I’ll have to pay extra for that charger but, life is not perfect.)

Maybe this is too emotional but the look and feel is pretty sexy too. Though it’s not a supermodel-sexy like the iPhone, it’s not an ugly Betty like the G1. It’s more of the “look innocent until we’re alone”, curvy sexy. I like that. There’s
also a bit of mystery involved just to make it a bit more exciting.
Though I’ve been a Sprint customer for years, currently with three phones in
plan, I’m not exactly sure what it will cost me. Hopefully,
Sprint will make it easy to upgrade.

Finally, a feature that doesn’t get a lot of hype is that, as important as it is to me to get a Pre, it’s more important to Palm to get me. Let’s not sugar-coat it, this is a make or break play for Palm. Like me, many are about done with our frumpy, rumpled, “all I wear is sweat pants around the house” Treos. Palm really wants me to be happy with their new phone. They want me to take it out on the town and show it off to my friends. They have spent a great deal of time making it appealing and they want it to be very faithful to me. So, I’m thinking it will deliver.

So there it is. I’ve made the committment and I’m going to do my damnedest to get the Palm Pre on June 6th. Now, I know there are lots of gadget guys like myself that do it, but I’ve never camped out, stayed up late, or waited in a long line for anything before. And I’m not sure I will now. But there’s about 2 weeks left between now and the Pre launch and I’m going to watch intently what happens during the ensuing hype-fest.

In fact, being the social media enthusist that I am, I can’t pass up making this a project. So I’m going to chronicle the ramp up to the Pre launch and my purchase via Twitter. If you’re interested, follow along at @palm_pre_for_me as I get all Pre-geeky. Who knows, I might be inpsired to see what all the attraction of being “first” is. I just hope that Palm understands what I’m giving up here, considers my true feelings, and…is gentle.

Drowning In Information

Help! Between my endless stream of traditional media info and my new “I can find you anywhere.” media information hydrant I feel like I’m treading water just trying to keep up.

(Cue the dun-ta-dah ‘to the rescue’ music.) I’m here to help ma’am (said in my most Dudley Do-right voice). It’s so easy to get carried away in trying to suck up all the info you really want. But c’mon, you have a life, or at least you should. Since Tivo, and podcasting have helped you tame the radio and TV info management issue, allowing you to watch and listen on your terms, I though it might be helpful to share some tips from some interactive friends for taming your online world.

Greg Swan points out that there are “Information Hoarders”, the junkies that can’t seem to get enough info. If that’s you this should be of some real help.

We’ll get to the web in a bit. Let’s start with your own little slice of info heaven, your computer. After years of e-mails, documents, downloaded photos, applications, widgets and what not, you have a treasure trove of info that caters to your interests both personal and professional. Now, if you could only find it…

First, from the makers of online search (and possible owners of the free world), try Google Desktop search. This bad boy brings the Big G’s search capability to your entire hard drive and your MS Outlook sent and received. To bad it can’t do the same for your kitchen junk drawer. Swan shares his ‘word of the day’; taxonomy to point out that it’s a good idea, if you haven’t already, to start tagging your files with the words that will make you remember them. Put that word in the file name or on the document itself.

[Read more…]

You Speak. Who Hears? Who Listens?

As I spend more and more time peeling back the layers of communicating in the new millennium I’m always impressed at the amount of tools available to send a message or start a conversation. With so many gadgets and applications pouring out of the cloud it’s clear you need to investigate using some of them to reach your audience. Whoever that audience is, customers, friends, relatives, even pets can be reached in so many ways.

But, as exciting as it is to see all of these innovations develop, if you want to be truly effective in your communication, you can’t get swept up in the buzz of it all. Remember…remain calm.

The fact is that you need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what tools they use. If you try and reach them through a medium they don’t use…well…the point would be?

For example, my wife and I are spending more and more time texting each other throughout the day. It’s a great way for us to juggle the ever changing plans between our work, kids, and friends. It’s quick and unobtrusive. In fact, it has saved my butt more than a few times. See, I tend to space off phone messages and it’s easy for me to just text my bride as soon as I hang up the phone. The point is that we are starting to text so much I’ve thought about using Twitter or AIM or some other service. Then I realize my wife has no desire to use any of the tools. Because a) she doesn’t sit at a computer all day and b) her cell phone doesn’t have a data option. Yeah, I know all these services have a SMS option but the fact is…why bother if SMS works just fine?

And that’s the point; your audience has the same attitude. Unless it will profoundly improve their lives they’re just fine with where they are right now. Unless what you are trying to communicate is really revolutionary, you must reach them through the channels that exist and the ones they use. Don’t start the process of building a relationship with someone by introducing a new technology or changing their habits. They will better listen to your message in the environment they are comfortable in.

Your path of least resistance is to find out what they use. Who are you trying to reach? How old are they? How interested in your message and how do they hear about it? Believe it or not, adoption of new things is a relatively slow process. In most cases slow enough to date your message if you try using the “next big thing”.

That means…research…at what ever level you can. It’s better to spend the money and the time to get to look at the habits of your audience than spend the time and money whizzing in the wind.  Over the next weeks, as I continue to try and keep up, I’ll start tearing into many of these tools and we can find out some of the best and worst ways to reach your audience. Do remember, what may be ineffective today may be the “text messaging” for next week. Our goal is to use the right ones at the right time…now.

Being an Early Adopter…OK, Maybe Not the Best Way to Meet Women.

I got a peek at some info from Ipsos I-Say regarding early
. As usual, according to this article, the whole “gotta have the gadget” world is still
predominantly male. Beyond the psychology of the report here are some basic facts from Ipsos…

Wait…before we talk about the stats, as a card carrying male,
I need to point out a few things that impact this research. First, admit it
gents, as guys when someone asks about stuff like this we usually always say we
know what the heck we’re talking about. Remember, we’re the ones who don’t ask
for directions. (Of course now we don’t have to with GPS gizmos. See how this
whole thing comes full circle.) Second, God forbid, we should even remotely
come off as not being hip. iPhone? Hell yeah, I’ve got one! (OK not really but
does the researcher need to know that.) Early adoption is clearly a great way to reinforce our male ego. On with the stats…

According to the Ipsos study, over 44% of males consider
themselves to be technology-savvy and 51% think they have better technical
skills than the average person, whereas women aren’t as confident about their
technological abilities. Actually 34% admit that complicated electronics make
them feel apprehensive.

Almost 49% of males are excited about cutting-edge
electronics compared to only 35% of females. Men also like to have the newest
gadgets and high tech products (33% vs. 22%). More males than females believe
they embrace new technology more quickly than the rest of society (38% vs. 23%).

Now that we’ve seen the numbers, some observations;

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Why can’t everything have an “easy” button?

I’ve spent my fair share of setting up new software,
programs, and applications. When it comes to doing this I usually can stumble
my way through the set-up. But sometimes, especially when it comes to
applications, there is just way too much cutting and pasting to do.

                 Photo courtesy of Staples

In this Web 2.0 world why is it that someone can put
together a kick-butt application that can turn my cell phone into a TV remote,
make my blog update on Twitter, or let me download a song and let out the dog
at the same time, but can’t include a step that automates it all? Instead, I
have to open files or directories that, as far as I know, could contain the
very life of my computer. Then I have to cut and paste code into them. I’m always thinking, “One
wrong step and I’ll launch an ICBM on some poor unsuspecting
country…or my neighbor.” Yikes, it gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking
about it.

Hey, this could be said for anything you have to do
yourself. Man, an easy button would have been sweet when I built that deluxe wall
unit in college. (It’s amazing what they can do with graham crackers and vinyl
veneer, isn’t it?) But when it comes to computer applications the need for an “easy”
button is not only great but it is attainable.

Developers: Most of the people who use your creation…your
customers…will appreciate it if you make it easy for them. It’s nothing
personal, but if it’s not easy they will find something that is. So once you
design the widget or app, please design a program that automates the set up. I
really don’t want to blow up my computer (much less my neighbor…at least not

From Parlor to Palm

With the speed by which the world of communication is
changing, every once in awhile I stop and try to take it all in. This is one of
those times.

Back in 1987, while Bon Jovi was replacing Debbie Gibson on
the radio and I was just getting rid of my amber computer monitor, I remember
talking with some friends about the state of entertainment and information at a
radio gathering. We were talking about where technology had led us and where it
was headed. The days of the family huddling around the radio in the parlor were
well behind us, radio and TV had made an indelible mark on all of us. We had
all had made enough “mix tapes” and boy weren’t those CD things cool, and the
internet? Hey, it might just take off.

After many beers and some very in depth thinking (tequila
shots) we were sure that there would be one “box” where you would receive all
your entertainment and information including TV, Radio, Music, News, etc. You
know, the “console” on high-tech steroids. You remember the “console”. Radio
(AM and FM!), TV, record changer, and 8-track all in a “luxurious piece of
furniture”. Many even had a remote. Remember that loud “snap” when you pushed
the channel button. Of course that’s really where the computer is…almost.

But back in ’87 (insert “old-timer” voice here) we had no
idea that brick we called a cell phone would evolve into the very same thing
and fit into the palm of your hand. Clearly, we would have needed many more
beers to even start that discussion.

Imagine where we are going, not to mention how fast we’re
getting there. Our kids can “text” faster than they can type (and some faster
than they can think), e-mail is easier to get than a letter, pay phones are
harder to find than Debbie Gibson music, and we can listen to what we want when
we want. You can watch TV or surf the net (Of course, better TV and speedier internet
is just around the corner.). If you’re lost, just open your GPS (now I really
don’t need to stop for directions) and if someone wants to find you, your phone
can be located the next time you use it (Yeah, the Bourne Ultimatum made me a
bit paranoid. You?).

What kind of habits do you have? The phone can relay your audio
and video usage without you doing anything more than standing near a radio or TV.
Family photos, more addresses than a Rolodex the size of a Volkswagen, your
financial records, and a Village People ring tone, all right there in your
hand. You might even be reading this on your Smartphone. And have you been to a
concert lately? The folks that make Bic lighters are pissed!

Whether you think this is a great way to save time, or just
a big intrusion on your life, you have got be amazed. Of course, our kids know
no other way…imagine what they’ll be coming up with when they are hanging
around talking to friends in 2017. “Hey, remember when we use to gather the
family around the old Nokia?”

The iPhone…An Answer to World Peace?

Yep, add this to the already billions of posts about the iPhone. Though this might be a just a bit different from what you’ve grown use to seeing after the release of Apple’s latest gizmo “that will change the way we____.” Forget that it is exactly what was promised, that it really works the way all of the ads and podcasts said it would. Forget that it still needs some additions like text and a card slot. By the way, the real reason the iPhone is so huge is, like the iPod, it’s dead freakin’ sexy! Which is one of the reasons I think it may be a secret to world peace.

Let me set the stage here. I was working the below mentioned Conclave on the weekend of the iPhone’s release. (More on ‘clave in another post.) One of our attendees, Tom Webster of Edison Media Research and  blogger at The Infinite Dial, decided he would hop in line and pick up an iPhone. Now, Tom is a well respected and insightful thought leader in the world of research and communications. Some of the studies put forth by him and Edison have literally changed the face of radio broadcasting. He’s also a great guy. So when he walks into a room there should be no shortage of people talking to him. However, put an iPhone in this guy’s hand and you’d think he was walking into a dog show wearing a meat sport coat. All of us were crowded around his phone oohing and aahing, laughing and talking. It was like we were this great big group of long-time friends.

So here’s my idea. We secure a couple thousand iPhones and start doling them out to select leaders of the gazillion of warring factions in the middle east. Think of it…hundreds of people from all cultures and religions crowded around touching the screen. Christian and Muslim, Shi’ite and Sunni happily flipping the pages of the music on iTunes, e-mailing their friends and zooming in and out on photos. The next thing you know suicide bombings cease, troops go home, cities are rebuilt, peace breaks out, and the price of gas sinks to a buck. C’mon, it could work…

Okay, probably not. But my point is this, the iPhone is about buzz and the way it makes people react. It’s another one of those things that creates such interest that gadget freaks and non-techies alike join in. This is just plain old fashioned good marketing. The topic of interest is made so compelling it brings people together. So if we can create a well thought out plan that unifies us around something that is just popular perhaps we should do the same thing for something that is important.