Shoe Money Tonight

Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Buying the iPhone

ES1 & I have now spent a week with our new iPhone 3Gs. They have gotten quite a workout since then, but we have barely scratched the surface of their capabilities.

There is no secret about the fact that we have both wanted iPhones for quite a while. We were not quite as bad as Lesa King. As co-host of Your Mac Life she has been obsessing about the idea of an iPhone for quite some time. For at least three years prior to the announcement of the iPhone, the pattern would be the same. During the lead-in to any Apple event or Steve Jobs keynte, whether it be Macworld, WWDC, or a special event, there would always be speculation about what would be announced. She would always predict the same thing: iPhone!

Pretty much anyone who follows Apple at all had known that they were at least researching the idea of something like it for years. It was probably just a question of when. When it was finally announced, we knew we would be getting one. At $499 for 4 GB and $599 or 8 GB, however, we knew that we wouldn't be getting it right away. We expected it would be a few years from now at least.

After a few price drops, it became $199 for 8 GB and $299 for 16 GB. True, as many have pointed out, added costs of the plan make it more expensive over the life of the product. You are, however, getting more services than the original iPhone. The Buffalo area has great coverage for 3G. It goes all the way down to East Aurora. (For some reason, however, it doesn't cover the Falls.) And besides that, our current finances can handle the spread out cost much better than a higher up front cost. We knew it was time to get them.

Our plan for getting them had been simple. There's a fairly large AT&T store just by our house. A week before, we had gone to that store to have a credit check run, so that we could be expedited on the day of purchase. We had planned to go back there once I got out of work on July 11. I briefly considered going there before work, but there just wasn't enough time.

As I was driving home, ES1 called me to inform me that the AT&T store had sold out and was placing names on a waiting list. When I got home, I picked up the phone. On ES1's suggestion, I called the Galleria Apple Store first.

"Why yes," they said, "we have plenty in stock." The person on the phone then recommended that we be sure to bring our current cell phone plan information & Government ID to expedite the process. We arrived at the Galleria approximately 4:05 PM, and got in line.

They had a line of people outside the door of the Apple Store, going around the corner. There were approximately 20 people in it at the time. They were only allowing a small number into the store at a time. While we waited, we talked with other people in line. Employees from the Apple Store walked around with bags of candy. Earlier, we were told, they had been walking around distributing bottles of water. ES1 & I had both had the foresight to bring books.

It took approximately 1 hour before we were able to enter the store, though it did not seem that long. We then were helped by an employee, and were his first customers. We had already picked a plan, and decided on an 8 GB model for me, and a white 16 GB model for her. Everything was all set.

In theory.

The first time he attempted to use the interface to set up our account with AT&T, it returned an error. He wisely consulted a manager. This was a manager who knew us, since we are in that store fairly frequently. The manager then had to contact AT&T. It seems that some of our information had been input incorrectly. Since I had been watching this gentleman the entire time, I know that it was not his mistake; the mistake must have been at the AT&T store.

During this whole process, other employees frequently stopped by to see if we needed anything else. ES1, being 8 months pregnant, was given a stool to sit on. We were offered bottles of water as well. One employee who knew us fairly well stopped by simply to check to see which book I was reading ("The Bacta War," book 4 of the X-Wing Series). We were very well taken care of during this ordeal.

An hour and a half, it ended up being. To paraphrase James Burke, however, it doesn't really feel like a ceremony unless you've been put through the ringer. We finally ended up at home around 7:30 or so, with two newly activate iPhones and a couple of docks for them.

It is very easy to get addicted to these things. Our old Treo 650s had something which pretended to be a web browser. When we got them we even got a month of free service. After several abortive attempts to get it to work, however, we gave up.

With the iPhone, however, we can surf the web or view our mail from anywhere. We can use Google maps to map our a route to anywhere, and use the GPS to find our way. It would take far too long to describe everything that can be done with them, and others have done so much better.

Suffice it to say, these are one of the best purchases we have made in a long time. Once again, Apple has designed something that works the way it's supposed to, putting competitors to shame. Our friends and family are amazed by everything it does. More and more, however, we simply get amazed that nothing else does it.

The key fact of the matter is that Apple puts care and craftsmanship into the software. Others seem to view it as an afterthought. That's why there is no real competitor to the iPod. That's why there is no real competitor for the Macintosh. That's why there is no real competitor for the iPhone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any word on when other carriers will have the iPhone as an option? Or am I stuck with having to choose between VZW and an iPhone?

12:01 PM  

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