My very first mobile phone was a Nokia 6110. There were other built in functions for sure but it was a phone, designed as a communications device and shaped like how people perceive a phone handset to be like.
No one thought much of it, we chose phones based on form and function and went on with our lives. Each new phone was decided upon based on merit, and a checklist of features versus how much one was willing to pay. Phones became more feature rich, and each successive generations of phones brought evolutionary changes based on technology, a vibrate mode, a camera, colour screen, high resolution, music playback, different shapes and sizes.
I was happy with my phones.
I also had a few palm pilots. I had a filofax, and graduated to a palm III , life was great, I could sync my contacts and calenders with my computer and had some cooler graphics from a screen I could read from. The palm also had a place to get apps, and download other things. which made it eminently customizable . I knew then I did not want my phone and my organizer on the same device. This is because I felt that the different companies were focussing on one or the other and therefore compromising on either one.
Both of these products were great. They were logical steps up from the analog devices they replaced. THAT is the key, that they were conceptualized to be better products. Like the bloomberg terminal, users are tied into an interface and had to learn the basics. For a long time, Nokia was ahead of the game, with a simple UI that was easily mastered and transferable across the range of phones with slight changes. They were however, tech that was made to replicate an analog experience. Users knew what they were buying and found comfort in the fact that they understood it.
All this changed with the launch of the iphone.
Right from the onset, people didnt really know what to make of it, for one simple reason.
There Was No Precedent Analog Framework To Understand The Technology.
it brought forth a new paradigm in a digital lifestyle, one where the user no longer just owns and operates the technology, but where the technology gets out of the way for the user to create a unique worldview. Of applications and frivolity, creativity and repetitiousness.
An iphone is like a window to a brave new world of, ME.
Each app and contact is an extension of the me-ness of the user experience , the tech simply serves as a conduit for self expression.
Conversely, the blackberry is a throwback to analog. There are users who enjoy the tactile click of a button and scrollwheel. By virtue of its very design, it is easily understood. What RIM does VERY well tho, is to create the tribe around the blackberry. The BBM experience created a differentiation between the Haves and Have Nots, where a simple ANALOG pin number allowed one member of the tribe to communicate with another. This brought a new level of CHEAP connectivity as well as a reassuring sense of tactile analog reliability that creates its own following.
It is still evolving, and teh numbers are interesting as the following graphic shows. Perhaps worth a post someday…