If Apple gets into the cell phone game, we might actually get a well-designed phone

“It’s changed the way we talk to each other. It’s turned us into multi-taskers. It’s taught us how to text. It’s revolutionized our jobs by allowing us to work on the move. It’s democratized the news media by enabling passers-by to photograph extraordinary events. It’s given us access to the Internet, e-mail, music, social networks, a camera, clock, diary and phone – all in one tiny box,” Alice Rawsthorn writes for The International Herald Tribune.

Rawsthorn writes, “No object has had as dramatic an impact on our lives in the past decade as the cellphone. Only the computer comes close. But more of us use a cellphone, and our relationship with it is more intimate. The cellphone is one of the handful of personal objects – like a watch – that we take with us almost everywhere.”

“So why are they so badly designed? And we’re not talking about dodgy network service here, but the phones themselves,” Rawsthorn writes. “Perhaps you don’t think there’s a problem. If you’re gazing lovingly at your cellphone, marveling at how simple it is to use, how pleasing to look at and to touch, then, of course, you’ll consider it to be well designed. Though I’ve yet to meet anyone who agrees with you. Few questions are more likely to elicit groans and complaints than asking people what they think of their cellphones.”

Rawsthorn writes, “In fairness to cellphone makers, it is exceptionally difficult to design anything really well, especially a technically complex product that is manufactured in huge quantities. A well-designed object, like the Apple iPod, looks so effortless and can be used so intuitively, that it’s easy to underestimate the Herculean struggle required to produce it. There are many obstacles to great design. Inventing new materials. Predicting how the product will be used. Turf wars between designers, sales representatives and engineers. It takes a massive effort of corporate will – and the support of a visionary leader, like Apple’s Steve Jobs – to overcome them.”

“All this could change if a dynamic new player entered the market, and the likeliest contender to do so is Apple. It’s an open secret that Apple has been considering plans to launch a cellphone. Let’s call it the iPhone. Ever protective of its brand, Apple is unlikely to introduce the iPhone until it is convinced that it has the best possible product, which would involve rethinking everything about the cellphone and how it works, including the role of the networks,” Rawsthorn writes. “It is in a powerful position to do so. The iPod proved how successful Apple’s design values could be in a new product sector. Could a cellular network risk missing out on telecom’s answer to the iPod? And a well-designed iPhone might force the established cellphone makers to raise their design game, too.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Eli” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s taken iPod+iTunes to an entirely different level; iPhone will be like supertrain – October 21, 2006
RUMOR: Apple iPhone features leaked – October 19, 2006
Prudential analyst: Apple prepping two ‘iPhone’ models for Macworld Expo January 2007 release – October 16, 2006
Apple seeks rights to iPhone trademark – October 16, 2006
What would an Apple iPhone look like? – October 04, 2006
RUMOR: Apple iPhone to be Cingular-exclusive in US launch, O2-exclusive in Europe – September 26, 2006
Apple’s iTunes 7 contains iPhone clues – September 15, 2006
RUMOR: Apple ‘iPhone’ to debut at Macworld Expo in January 2007 – September 15, 2006
Apple ‘iPhone’ photo a fake, but potential buyers seem real – September 14, 2006
RUMOR: Apple’s ‘iPhone’ to be iPod nano-like candy bar form factor with choice of three colors – September 14, 2006
Apple’s iTunes 7 installer shows ‘iTunes Phone Driver’ as greyed-out option – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple could sell 12 million ‘iPhones’ next year – September 11, 2006
Analysts: Apple ‘iPhone’ design and business strategy more ambitious than expected – September 08, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘iPhone’ finally ready for production – September 05, 2006
Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks up much-rumored ‘iPhone’ iPod mobile phone – August 11, 2006
Is this Apple’s iPhone? – August 03, 2006
BofA ups Apple Computer to ‘buy,’ expects ‘iPhone’ in 2007, shares rise in early trading – July 31, 2006
Not sitting around doing nothing: ‘iPhone’ could add billions to Apple’s revenue – July 21, 2006
Apple CFO on iPhone: ‘we’re not sitting around doing nothing’ – July 20, 2006
Merrill Lynch ups Apple rating to ‘buy’; UBS raises Apple target to $80 – July 20, 2006
Apple Q3 2006 Conference Call notes – July 19, 2006
iPhone, iPod messenger clues in latest iPod firmware update – July 17, 2006
Patent application shows iPod capable of live wireless video conferencing – June 13, 2006
Bear Stearns comments on Apple: ‘true’ video iPod, iPhone, multiple OS plans – May 17, 2006
Apple patent application filed for wireless iPod+iTunes distribution – May 04, 2006
Report: Apple Computer may soon launch its own music ‘iPhone’ – March 31, 2006
RUMOR: Apple ‘iPhone’ put on hold – March 30, 2006
Visiongain: Apple ‘iPhone’ launch imminent – March 29, 2006
BenQ exec: Apple’s iPhone ‘definitely coming’ – March 23, 2006
European patent application shows Apple ‘iPhone’ info? – March 21, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘iPhone’ could put a dent in Motorola – March 20, 2006
Anayst: 75-percent chance of Apple ‘iPhone’ in next 12 months – March 16, 2006
Generator Research: Apple to Ship $4.2bn in Wireless iPods (WiPods) by 2010 – March 14, 2006
Citigroup tech analyst: Apple ‘iPhone’ is going to be a category killer – March 03, 2006
Motorola to make Windows Media phones, keep separate iTunes phone line – February 13, 2006
Review: Motorola SLVR Apple iTunes mobile phone ‘an incredibly slick gadget with some shortcomings’ – February 13, 2006
Ready for your wireless Apple iPod? – February 09, 2006
Wireless iPod? CSR and PortalPlayer to bring wireless connectivity to personal media players – February 08, 2006
Motorola and Cingular launch new SLVR L7 iTunes phone – January 31, 2006
Analyst sees new Apple iBooks by April, ‘media hub’ product, 1GB iPod nano, iPhone within a year – January 31, 2006
Analysts tackle Apple’s ‘Mobile Me’ patent, iPhone rumors, MVNO possibilities – January 19, 2006
The San Francisco Chronicle: Apple may link cell phone, iPod – January 17, 2006
Apple Computer getting into the mobile phone market? – January 12, 2006
Apple applies for ‘Mobile Me’ trademark – January 11, 2006
Morgan Stanley predicts Apple shares surge, Apple ‘iPhone’ in 2006 – December 16, 2005
Wireless Apple iPods coming in 2006? – December 09, 2005
Analyst predicts Apple-branded ‘iPhone’ with iTunes and terabyte iPod within five years – November 11, 2005
How Apple’s Steve Jobs snookered the entire cell phone industry – October 03, 2005
Motorola CEO Zander: Apple to build a smart phone, it’s only a matter of time – September 29, 2005
Apple may eventually introduce its own ‘iPhone’ cell phone-iPod combo and create Apple MVNO – September 12, 2005
If Apple isn’t working on their own iPhone, they’re making a stupid mistake – September 12, 2005
Does Apple need a mobile phone of its own design? – September 09, 2005
Piper Jaffray: Apple should develop ‘iPhone’ by themselves – September 06, 2005
Forbes: Apple Computer planning to become a phone company? – July 08, 2005
Wendland: Bill Gates is right, iPod will be replaced by smartphones – by Apple – May 13, 2005
Is Apple building ‘The Device?’ – December 10, 2002
Apple Registers iPhone Trademark in Australia – December 02, 2002

31 Comments

  1. If Apple had NOT been on-track to develop a cell phone, all these constant iPhone articles would certainly have been enough for Apple to say, “Well, they seem to want one. Why don’t we try it?”

    I hope there’s a PDA in it.

  2. The new Blackberry Pearl from T-Mobile is the best designed phone I’ve ever used. Well, it can render HTML email for some idiotic reason, but that’s a software problem.

    An iPhone? It had better be unlocked for all GSM providers, run EDGE and UMTS, have an innovative and easy-to-use texting system, long battery life, good sound for those of us who can’t hear, and pick up leggy blondes.

  3. I hate my cellphone and my wife hates her treo. The software is awful but at least you can….gasp….make a phone call with them. If Apple makes the iPhone and makes a SIMPLE userface that will enter and store phone numbers, pictures and with flash memory to play tunes, people won’t care about getting a new phone to renew their contract. They will happily purchase it. I would but two.
    Oh yes, and make it easy to transfer data back and forth between your Mac and the phone ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.