January 7, 2007

Wanted: Apple Mobile Device

Ah, MacWorld. The place where the hopes and expectations lie every year for an oh-so-special Apple announcement. This year my mind is set on one thing. However improbable, or senseless, all I am hoping for is an Apple mobile device. I must admit, even writing that is an interesting thing for me. I went from hating cell phones a few years ago, to begrudgingly getting one, to wanting to get a nicer one, to finally spending money on one that I might actually enjoy using (rather than a standard doorstop-model from a provider). During those last few years I’ve become more and more immersed by Apple’s programs. I use Mail, Address Book, iCal, and Safari all the time. Though they all have some rough points, they come the closest to the mark of how I like to work. They are all simple, no-frills programs.

The past year found me traveling more than I ever have in my life; all over the States multiple times for speaking engagements and client meetings, as well as Ireland and the Dominican Republic. It seemed like every other weekend I was in a cab headed to the airport. This year is already shaping up to be more of the same. When I do travel, I end up bringing my old G4 laptop. It’s too slow to use as a primary work machine, which is good, because I typically use it for email and holding all of my info tied up in programs like Address Book and iCal. To be honest, it feels like a huge waste, to lug around the damn thing for such limited usage.

This Tuesday I will be waiting, poised and hopeful, for an Apple mobile device. I’d even be happy for a UMPC, but that seems even less likely. I realize there are BlackBerrys and smartphones out there. But the bulk of them run Windows software. I am a Mac user and I would like a device that runs Mac software. If it were only a matter of function, I would have broken down and gotten a BlackBerry by now. I crave Apple’s simple and elegant software and hardware design. Now I want a way to tote all of my info around in a mobile Mac housing. I can’t imagine I’m the only one in this position, and now with the ubiquity of mobile devices spreading, Apple could stand to convert many of their computer buyers into repeat business. If you were in the market for a new mobile and had the option between a simple phone, something that ran Windows software, or something that ran a slimmed-down version of your Mac OS, which would you choose? Though, if they do announce one, it will likely be an iPod first and foremost, the ability to play music or take photos isn’t that important to me. I’m mostly hoping for some sort of Mac OS X Mobile, with mobile version of their apps to boot. Who knows, maybe Apple could even make iSync into the iTunes of the mobile world. Decent syncing is certainly something could use some more thought.

I don’t care if it’s called iPod Phone, iMobile, or iFart, I will probably still be one of the first people in line. I realize it’s wishful thinking, but perhaps just writing this out will help me to will the device into existence. *sigh*


Wow, the iPhone is a reality, and it’s is truly revolutionary. It’s amazing that I will be selling my laptop and replacing it with one of these, all while ditching T-Mobile (a company I like), and heading back to Cingular.

Commentary (47):

1. Jeff Croft says… jan 7, 2007 | 10:51 pm

I’m with you 100%, but I’m a little less optimistic we’ll be satisfied. I’m in the market for a smartphone right now, but I want something that works really, really well with my Mac-oriented digital life. Obviously, the best possible solution is a phone from Apple.

However, I suspect if Apple does release a phone, it will be more of a music phone than a smartphone. More of an iPod with a phone built in than a smartphone.

Oh well — we can hope!

2. Jade Cushman says… jan 7, 2007 | 11:25 pm

Funny you should mention this. My wife and I both are Mac addicts and in designing every day I also find myself in desperate need for a device I’m in love with but that flows with all the computers in my life. We had discussed this exact idea over a year ago and it’s nice to know that we’re not alone. Currently the Palm E2 is synching well using a 3rd party program, but then a cell phone is still needed and not every outfit has 35 pockets. Argh.

3. Steve says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:03 am

This seems to be a common craving in the Mac community… though not too probable.

I’ve found the next best thing to be the Palm Treo. I’m on my 2nd one and am a Mac fanatic as well. My Treo sync’s perfectly with all of the OSX Apps you mentioned are your lifeline. They are mine as well and when I’m out and about, people see me on my Treo all the time and ask if it’s my life… It is.
While the UI isn’t close to OSX, it can be hacked to look as such. But overlooking the Palm UI, using “Missing Sync”, I sync iCal, mail, and address book seemlessly. And with my new Treo 700p, itunes can sync (with a big enough SD card) and iPhoto does as well.
Truth be told, even if big Steve drops a iWhateverit’llbecalled in his 2.5 hour speech… it’ll be a Gen1 and who would really want to trust that with their schedule, contacts, mail… with their livelyhood? (not me) I’d wait for at least a 2nd gen or 3rd, as I did with iPod and other new products.
But, just because I like you Jason, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

4. Andrew Hedges says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:03 am

Magic 8 Ball says… “Try again later.”

5. Jacob Reiff says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:52 am

I’ve found my Nokia E62 to integrate really well with my Mac-based lifestyle (which sounds pretty similar to yours). I sprung for a $40 annual subscription for hosted Exchange mail for my primary work email, which works pretty flawlessly with Mail.app, and iSync handles the iCal/Address Book stuff. I used to use TaDa lists for to-dos (had it set to home in Firefox) but have since moved to iCal’s To Do’s because they sync so nicely with the E62.

The crux of your post though — the fit & finish of Apple products; I’ve found the E62 to be … 85% of the way there. There’s definitely some overload on menus (but not nearly as bad as older Nokia phones IMHO) and you have to put up with a bit of un-snappiness, but I’ve been astonished at how great it has worked so far. The physical presence of the E62 is really nice — not too heavy, actual metal, great tactile response on the buttons. I’ve been putting off upgrading to a smartphone for years because the experience was so poor, but I’d definitely give the E62 a look. (…if Apple doesn’t come through, of course!)

Who knows though, I may have an E62 for sale if things go smashingly at MW07!

6. Jeff Croft says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:59 am

I’ll second the E62. I’ve played with them a few times, and they’re definitely quite nice. Same for the Blackberry Pearl. But, I think we can all agree that even the really nice smartphones aren’t going to integrate with the Mac as well as a dyed-in-the-wool Apple version.

But if it does look like Apple’s not getting into this market after Tuesday, those two are at the top of my list.

7. Dave (Spin This!) says… jan 8, 2007 | 2:25 am

I realize it’s wishful thinking, but perhaps just writing this out will help me to will the device into existence.
I really hope so… my old Sony Ericsson isn’t what it used to be and I’ve been eyeing and comparing phones for awhile now but nothing seems to be setting off the “buy” light in my head—I really hope Apple will change that. I generally don’t buy v1.0 of anything but I’ll be second in line to buy one (nanoseconds after you Jason!) if it comes out. This thing has been on the rumormill for so long now it’s hard to fathom that Apple doesn’t have at least something up their sleeves and I really believe this is the year they’re going to do it.

8. Ravi says… jan 8, 2007 | 3:18 am

I use a palm treo 650 and together with Missing Synch software…and able to pretty much have everything smoothly connectted b/w my mobile and my iMac.

that said, I too will be among the first to try out a new apple gadget.

9. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 8, 2007 | 7:55 am

One of the biggest problems for me is the mobile interface. In every phone I’ve owned or seen my friends using, the interface just blows. This is where Apple can really shine. Nokia and Palm have problem come closest to a halfway decent mobile OS, but man, what I wouldn’t give for a OS X Mobile.

10. bandelin says… jan 8, 2007 | 8:02 am

what happened to phones that actually called people. now I have to deal with miniaturized buttons I can barely push without hitting its neighbor, a terrible operating system, fucking animated menus just slowing me down, a worthless camera, a calendar i have no use for, buttons that change the ringer to SILENT that are on the side of my phone that do it themselves whenever its in my pocket GOD DAMMIT JASON.

and to all you tasteless nitwits out there, put your god damn fucking phone on a normal ring setting. I don’t need to hear a terrible midi version of THE MARIO BROTHERS THEME SONG OR HOLLA BACK from that whore every time your worthless vapid friends need to tell you something equally worthless GOD DAMMIT JASON WHAT.

11. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 8, 2007 | 8:09 am

It’s far too early in the morning to be that angry Bandy :D

Yes, calling is of utmost importance. I didn’t list them in my post, because it’s different than what everyone else wants, but, my ideal feature set would be something like: phone, a few select Mac apps like iCal, Mail, Address Book, Safari, and a querty keyboard by sausage-fingers could use. I honestly don’t care much for playing music or taking pictures unless either of those features could at least approach what I can do with an iPod or small digital camera.

Holla back, Bandy!

12. bandelin says… jan 8, 2007 | 8:28 am

hopefully its reasonably priced. then I can sit it next to my two ipods, DS, xbox360, and too expensive to be mentioned TV as stuff I really never use. dammit, but I must have it.

13. Smallest Photo says… jan 8, 2007 | 8:54 am

I’d just be happy if they announced it. It doesn’t have to be avialable to purchase - thought that would be hugely fantastic if it were. Even if I couldn’t use it in England I’d probably get one just to bring back with me. I could build a little plinth and stare at it. I’ve heard so many rumours at this point. Things like the hold up is contract negotiations with Verizon, or that it will be tied to no network (yes, please).

If it is announced, I’d like Jobs to wait until the very end of MW, and then for there to be a faint ringing sound from the stage. He’ll just keep talking over it and then stop as he realizes that yes in fact there is a ringing sound coming from his pocket rather than the usual chiming of his brass ones knocking together. Taking the iphone (won’t be called this as Cisco owns that name) from his pocket he tells the caller he can’t talk right now and then returns the device to his pocket and picks up where he left off. With the crowd going nuts he stops again, looks into the sea of convulsing fan boys and gals and asks innocently - ” Oh, didn’t I mention this?”

The stage goes dark. When the lights come back up, Hodgman and Mac Lad are center stage. Mac Lad holds the iphone (won’t be caleld this as Cisco owns that name). Hodgman turns to him stares at the device, produces what appears to be a bog standard cell phone. Looks back and forth at the two devices, then reaches into his jacket pocket to retrieve a small handgun. Points it at Mac Lad’s head. Pulls the trigger dropping Mac Lad. Hodgman walks over to the iphone (won’t be called this as Cisco owns that name), picks it up. Starts licking it as he walks off stage. Fin

or something like that.

14. Dave (Spin This!) says… jan 8, 2007 | 10:34 am

Or how about this scenario…

Jobs hands it over to the CEO of Cisco explaining how Apple is “joining forces” with Cisco to help produce new versions of Apple networking products.

CEO starts off with,”You know that iPhone thing we produced?” Crowd boos. “Well, actually.… [ pause for effect ] .… we’re just fucking with you!” as Jobs comes on stage, holding the phone. Jobs says, “You really didn’t think we’d let Cisco get away with using the name iPhone, did you?!”

15. J Phill says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:27 pm

I would definitely imagine that the phone would be geared towards music and photos first. I want to be optimistic about Apple releasing a phone, but at the same time, all of the rumors for the past year and not seeing anything has made me less and less interested.

Last year I made the switch to OSX, and now I’d love for my phone to follow suit.

16. Dustin Wilson says… jan 8, 2007 | 12:57 pm

I doubt Apple will make any sort of mobile device again. Every time someone mentions PDA or mobile device Steve Jobs cringes for some reason. The Newton was awesome for its day, yet he killed the only thing Apple had going for it when he took over again. This doesn’t keep me from hoping. There’s now tons of people wanting Apple to save them from mobile hell just like they saved them from music hell. I’m one of those people.

I hate cell phones. I can’t say how much I hate them here because it would include every single profane word in the English language. I’ve yet to find one that fits my needs. My needs are very rudimentary and something no phone manufacturer can understand it seems. I just want to make and receive phone calls, save numbers to the phone, and keep a charge for more than a couple of hours.

Do I think that Apple can make a better phone? I sure as heck do. If it does all sorts of other stuff but still does the most rudimentary of tasks I will probably die and go to heaven. They’ve saved me from computer hell, music hell, and now I’m waiting for them to save me from mobile hell even if I have to wait an eternity.

17. Matthew (@ YSAWD) says… jan 8, 2007 | 2:11 pm

Am I the only one juvenile enough to have seriously considered the “iFart”?

I can envision its features - anything from a loud flatuant (a word?) ring-tone, to a substitute vibration feature - the”silent-but-deadly” button.

If this new device just happens to be a Mac-phone-portable-thingy, it’ll only fuel my desire to swing into the loving arms of Apple, and away from the tightening grip of ol’ Bill.

18. Julian Moffatt says… jan 8, 2007 | 3:28 pm

While I’m with everyone in hoping Apple will release their own mobile device, I broke down a few years ago and got a Blackberry 7250. While I drool over the Blackberry 8100, I must admit that for syncing iCal, Address Book and now even Mail, PocketMac v4 for Blackberry (FREE from RIM now - i paid for it originally) works really well. My work flow sounds very much like yours Jason in that I have Mail, iCal, Address Book and Safari open all the time.

While I would dearly like to see a Jonath Ive design in the form of a mobile device, I think if Apple announces anything in the cellular realm it will be Phone + iPod. The mobile device with slimmed OS will likely be the “one more thing” next year.

The thing I do not see anyone talking about is how this Apple mobile device will work with Windows. I can not see Apple bringing out a mobile device that would compete with Treo / Blackberry / PocketPCs without it syncing with Windows.… anyhow… I ‘ll get back to watching the snow fall as I work.

19. Khoi Vinh says… jan 8, 2007 | 5:37 pm

Whatever they come out with, and I’m almost certain they’re going to come out with *some* kind of mobile device, I hope they clarify their synching strategy, too. I don’t want to see an Apple phone or PDA or whatever sync to iTunes. That application is already a confused mess as it is.

20. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 8, 2007 | 5:39 pm

Khoi: Here, here!

21. Ian Muir says… jan 8, 2007 | 9:27 pm

Just give me a cell-enabled wireless card for my Newton.

I’ve got fat fingers so I feel your pain.

22. Patrick D’Alton Harrison says… jan 9, 2007 | 7:00 am

If they do a phone, it has to have a proper keyboard. I’ve got a blackberry and I know why they call them crackberries !

As for my first generation Treo that did not survive the “reboot” when I threw it against a wall. Great to look at - only problem was that you could never make calls with it. Slight problem when it’s a phone !!

So, proper keyboard, push email client, complete integration/synching with Mail.

If they produced a great product it would increase Mac computer hardware sales.

23. eben says… jan 9, 2007 | 12:52 pm

looks like you are getting your wish…

24. anab says… jan 9, 2007 | 1:02 pm

Seems that you got your wish Jason!

25. Malphas says… jan 9, 2007 | 1:36 pm

Jason Gets His Wish

I’ve always been a bit anti-apple on account of everyone in the whole world having an iPod and me not liking to just follow the crowd. But this thing is going to make me a Switcher. It’s very exciting.

26. Julian Moffatt says… jan 9, 2007 | 1:45 pm

Seems like more than just Jason got his wish. Sorry Khoi. It syncs through iTunes.

27. Andy says… jan 9, 2007 | 3:17 pm

The phone is nice though a bit on the expensive side, but selling through Cingular is a total retard move. Just sell the thing unlocked so any GSM customer can pop in their SIM card and go. Seriously.

28. justin says… jan 9, 2007 | 3:23 pm

I just ditched Cingular after being with them for 7 years, now with T-Mobile and I love it.

I’m not switching back to that crappy company just for an Apple phone, as tempting as it is.

29. Dave (Spin This!) says… jan 9, 2007 | 3:28 pm

It’s apparent Apple is banking on the iPod’s success and trying to bring people onto the Mac. Baby steps—maybe someone who gets the phone will see how well it works and buy a Mac. It’s amazing how much of Mac OS X “made” it onto the phone and I’m glad I waited… I guess we’ve waited this long, what’s another 6 months until release.

At any rate, it’s going to be nice not having to carry 2 devices around just to share a file or play music. $499 or $599 is well worth it imho.
As for Cingular, that’s not surprising they chose them, seeing their past relationship with Apple. Kudos to Apple for including wifi and not locking customers into an expensive, mediocre EDGE plan. Just pull up in front of virtually any coffee shop or hotel and check your mail.

30. ryan says… jan 9, 2007 | 3:33 pm

It sounds like they need some network modifications for it to work, so it’s not surprising it’s locked to a particular network.

31. Joel says… jan 9, 2007 | 4:27 pm

That iPhone screen looks like it’s built to break. I would be terrified to carry it around in my pocket.

32. tom says… jan 9, 2007 | 5:05 pm

As I read earlier today, the largely idiotic general public wouldn’t be receptive to a two part purchase (buy an iPhone at the “iPod store” and go activate it at T-Mobile, Cingular, etc.) It’s much easier to acclimate people to the concept by making it essentially a one shot deal using the largest cell provider in the country…

The iPhone is most likely a Cingular exclusive for a limited time, similar to Motorola’s the RAZR and ROKR phones. Eventually Motorola distributed through other channels, because the initial exclusivity was largely a hype building exercise.

Additionally, Apple is using Cingular to blaze a trail for various feature sets that they wouldn’t be able to get all the cell companies to agree to at simultaneously.

Bide your time, my friends. We non-Cingular users may not get an iPhone in June, but I’m betting we will eventually have ours.

33. Daniel Curran says… jan 9, 2007 | 6:11 pm

I don’t think you should ditch T-Mobile.. Like Tom says, it shouldn’t be long before they will have that phone, and it’s a shame to leave a such a good company. It annoys me that Cingular get’s a hold of most of the gimick-y phones first which is really the only good selling point for me on them. T-Mobile’s plans and customer service are just so much better than anyone else.

Does anyone think it will be easy to try and use it as an unlocked phone?

34. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 9, 2007 | 6:14 pm

Daniel Curran: I’m not ditching T-Mobile yet, I guess I just mean I am willing to ditch them. I’m going to wait and see how things are shaping up come June. I am sure we will have a lot more info by them about unlocked phones and more.

35. John says… jan 9, 2007 | 9:20 pm

Australia has to wait until next year damn it, and whats with the internal battery and limited life?

36. Kevin Jackson says… jan 9, 2007 | 9:39 pm

JSM: From what I read today, it doesn’t look like anyone but Cingular will have access to the phone until 2009. I’m sure someone will figure out how to unlock it, but I’d be curious to know if the “any-order” voicemail will work.

37. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 9, 2007 | 9:48 pm

Kevin Jackson: Regarding the visual voicemail: It sounds like that will be a Cingular exclusive, since it was mentioned during the Keynote as being a direct result of the Apple/Cingular team-up. So, if there are unlocked iPhones, it’s unlikely they will have that feature.

38. Kevin Hamm says… jan 9, 2007 | 9:53 pm

Cingular’s CEO was the only person to state “multi-year exclusivity contract” outright, but like other’s have posted, it’s the network upgrades that are needed to allow for the voice mail to work right. It’s interesting that the implication of the product includes that it can and will switch to using wi-fi if it’s available and that this includes for phone calls. That would suck for outright for Cingular, however, for t-mobile customers with hot-spots, it makes our jaunts to the local Starbucks a daytime-minute-usage-free calling experience, too. How fun would that be?

I suspect that t-mobile will be brought on board in the US right about the time that the European iPhone is launched, since t-mobile is tops across the pond. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to sell to the Euro-market withouth leveraging their way into the US with the product. My 2¢…

39. Smallest Photo says… jan 9, 2007 | 10:09 pm

Quick Stan - ask for more stuff. You’re on a roll!

40. Daniel Curran says… jan 10, 2007 | 1:20 pm

Ya, I am probably willing to leave them also, if that is the only option. It’s just a shame since I have such a good plan with T-Mobile.

41. Ian Adams says… jan 11, 2007 | 8:27 pm

Honestly, T-Mobile’s been kind of getting on my nerves lately. But I’d ditch them anyway because damn I want an iPhone. I won’t be getting rid of my iBook any time too soon, though, as it actually is my main computer.

How was Cingular when you used to have them? (I’ve always been on T-Mobile.) I’m also really curious as to who their provider in Canada is going to be. We haven’t heard anything so far, and there is no Canadian Cingular.

42. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 11, 2007 | 8:51 pm

Ian Adams: Cingular was ok, not bad, but not great. This was a few years ago. I was lured away by the prospect of getting a better phone without have to pay for the hardware.

I really like T-Mobile, and am anxious to see how things play out (especially with unlocked phones). If it’s just the difference on not having visual voicemail, I can live with that if it means getting to stick with T-Mobile. I don’t get that much voicemail as it is, and keep my inbox pretty clean already so that I don’t have to wait through tons of messages.

43. Geoff DiMasi says… jan 11, 2007 | 10:31 pm

That was an eerie post to read after the fact.

It is like you knew.

Did you know?

44. trevor Weimer says… jan 12, 2007 | 1:15 am

(cut from my blog cause I’m lazy)
I must admit after pondering Apples release of the iPhone, which may or may not be referred to as such pending cisco’s pending lawsuit against Apple for using the iPhone name for their phone, that the world really doesn’t need the iPhone. Yes god dammit you read right, me a mac fanatic, I just want a damn iPod and a damn cell phone, separately. More to the point I just want a simple bare bone cell phone that allows me talk to other earthlings and has a battery that will last more than a few hours. Is that so fucking hard? I must be joking right? Yes I have an ultra cool flip out do everything cell phone and I paid a shit load of money for it and you know what I hate it. It’s big, the battery dies on it daily. It’s has loads of things it can do that I will never use and it has a shitty camera and shittier video. So when I think about the iPhone I think here’s some wonderful gadget that cost’s and arm and a leg, does shit loads of cool things (at a price from your provider) and it’s a cell phone and all I can think is fuck it, another do everything device that will never be used to its full potential for lack of battery power and the average earthlings attention span. It reminds me of when Homer Simpson designed a car. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

45. Ian Adams says… jan 12, 2007 | 1:21 am

The problems I’ve mostly been having with T-Mobile involve getting charged for SMS messaging, even though I didn’t used to, and I don’t remember changing my contract.

I don’t get a lot of voicemail either, but I do hate waiting for the voicemail system to finish talking. If visual voicemail also features point-and-tap deleting/saving/return calling, I’d be pretty happy.

But I do see your point. I guess I’m just not that much of a phone service loyalist in the first place, though. I don’t see much difference between them. (Save, perhaps, that T-Mobile tends to be slightly cheaper, from what I hear.)

46. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 12, 2007 | 8:16 am

From David Pogue’s “The Ultimate iPhone Frequently Asked Questions”:

Can it be used with anything but Cingular? –No.

Is it an “unlocked? phone, so I can use it with a carrier other than Cingular? –No.

Will there be a non-Cingular version? –Not within the first two years.

Can I put my T-Mobile SIM card in it instead of Cingular? –No.

But what if I keep asking? Then will it be available beyond Cingular? –No.

47. Ian Adams says… jan 12, 2007 | 9:21 pm

You have to wonder, though, how long it will take for enterprising hackers to figure out how to unlock the iPhone.

My main concern is: if I buy one in the US when it comes out, then can I just pop in a Rogers SIM card when I move to Vancouver? It would be really expensive to keep it as a Cingular phone if I’m living in Canada, and it would be really stupid if I had to buy another iPhone just to be able to use one up there.