Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Apple and the myth of working beautifully, Part II

I finally got my hands on an iPhone yesterday - the 16GB 3G version. And while the unboxing was a very fine experience... (see qik video with this post) most of the rest was not.
First things first; in store. I got a tip off that phones were in so I headed off for an 02 shop (I won't name the location to protect the uninformed) and avoided the queue nastiness that has put me off in the past.

See Apple And The Myth of Working Beautifully

Experience so far, good (cartoon, right, by Hugh). Asking questions of the staff revealed some flaws in the training (I'm being charitable).

To be fair, my first encounter was with a young girl labelled 'trainee' and wearing a iPhone promo t-shirt.

I asked about contracts and tariffs. She knew nothing about the costs of data. Pretty critical on the iphone you might have thought?

When a more senior colleague could join us they claimed the 02 iphone contract meant you could use wifi free whereever wifi is available. "Mcdonalds" she quoted (it's free there anyway) and Starbucks (which I think there is a deal in place with).

I assured her it was not possible that they could have done a deal to offer everyone's wifi for free. It's not an issue for me - just an odd and misleading claim to make while selling an iPhone.#

Signing up was easy enough.

And so the evening, and trying to make the bleeding thing work.

Instructions say simply connect to computer and iTunes will do the rest. What iTunes does is tell you nothing is going to work for you, sucker, because you haven't got a valid sim card in.

I know, I was kind of hoping you were going to tell me how to instal it since there are no instructions.

The 02 site and phonelines couldn't cope with the demand for help, so I went to ask my twitter pals.

Turns out there is a piece of card rattling around in your box with some archane heiroglyphics on (no words) which purport to show you what to do with an odd-shaped slither of metal - the sacred key that opens the secret door to sim card placement. A case of apple being blinded by its own brilliance.

Here's some of the tweets that followed:

Latest live from Qik [qik] - Iphone 3g

  • f'ck me. how stupid can o2 be? no instructions on how to open iphone or insert sim. genius
  • otoburb @davidcushman It's that picture on the black insert with the strange looking metal piece.
  • @otoburb er? ah thankyou.
  • bellhead @davidcushman in the US they have the SIM already in them (done way upstream).
  • btinternet downloaded itunes 7.7 at a stately 180kb at best. stand by my post re apple and the myth of working beautifully
  • rmmarshall @davidcushman So good to hear someone else who isn't falling into the fanboy irreality trap.
  • if i should die before i finally start this iphone, who would like it left to them
  • ilicco @davidcushman thanks, but you can take it with you. also, if you want proper 3G, use JoikuSpot on a Nokia N82 and WIFI your iPhone
  • hadn't appreciated iphone comes with watching paint dry app pre-installed
  • @rmmarshall nokia would die before making it this hard to make a phone call!
  • spanx @davidcushman iPhone tip. Turn 3G off unless you're using the Internet on the move. It's a battery killer.
  • @spanx cheers. how's it done?
  • spanx @davidcushman It's under the system settings thing. Badly needs a one-click 3G switcher app.
  • rmmarshall @davidcushman It's such a UScentric idiom - they don't get phones. Like the paint dry app analogy - 59p from the appStore!
  • technokitten @davidcushman ooh I'm feeling left out! I want a 'watching paint dry' app too ;)
  • hmm a flaw. iphone opens itunes then insists on installing new version, without auto closing itunes first. dumb.
  • golly. now its restart time. this better be worth it mr jobs
  • apple. the walls of the garden arent meant to be for banging my head against
  • superb. itunes install failed. now trying to repair
  • ok. lets try a second restart. am very bored now
  • finally itunes opens up. cant access some synch or other. i should try later?
  • @gapingvoid thank you. apple and i aint buddies 2nite
  • andrewgrill @davidcushman you should have bought an E71 ;-]
  • 6consulting @davidcushman May I suggest placing it in the blender? seems to have worked for others!!
  • neilperkin @davidcushman thanks for keeping me entertained whilst working at home :)


  1. Richard M Marshall8/06/2008 9:50 am

    I feel your pain! I've been writing on and off about Apple problems on my blog, for example here's a break down of why the touch software doesn't live up to what it could be: We've also had two MacBooks fail, one replaced under warranty and the other sitting in bits as the repair was quoted at £750.

    As you said in your earlier post, there's plenty of room for improvement for everyone.

  2. hype, yippee, oh-no ... that is the product cycle ... keeps millions employed ... and demand continuous

    marketing plays a big part in this cycle. some might argue that marketing and advertising cause this cycle, but i won't push that here.


  3. As a pretty avid Apple supporter over the years it does pain me a little to have to agree here with the general thread...
    Apple have high standards they set themselves but I fear there are cracks beginning to develop in what I have sensed is a transition of leadership in Apple (I see a sort of changing of the guard being planned by Steve Jobs).
    That's not to say that I they don't continue to produce revolutionary and inspiring new concepts, products and experiences but they appear to miss their high standards on a more regular basis. What is even more apparent is the air of cynicism which fans like myself have started to develop - mostly based out of Apple's more deliberate holding back of functionality where they would historically have hit the 'Wow' button bang on!
    Up your game guys... we know what Apple can deliver and it saddens your admirers to see anything less!


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?