Rants on business, science, technology, society, politics, police, and justice, plus life hacks and tricks, since 2003. header image 2 gets iPhone Hype Fever, iPurchased an Album on iTunes

July 3rd, 2007 · 2 Comments

iPhone Fever Ferments iTunes Feelings

Came home a moment ago. Been thinking about all the hype about iPhones I’ve heard this week. Loaded up Firefox, checked my email. There was some laundry in queue after the email, but for some reason I interrupted that to put on music. Remembering that the Internet radio broadcast protest happened earlier this week, I thought of Pandora Radio since it had been the focus of a number of news stories as it was one of the more popular internet radio stations that went silent in protest of the pricey internet radio royalty set to come into effect soon.

Pandora asked me for the name of an artist I liked. Jedi Mind Tricks was the first that came to mind. First, it tries to show you something you might be looking for by that artist; the song it showed me was Suicide. I’d definitely give that song two thumbs up, but Pandora only let me give it “one thumb up”. The next song was Seasons by CunninLynguists, which I really didn’t like one way or the other, even though I like CunninLynguists (I actually even rapped to one of their beats live on a hip-hop show on WRPI, Troy in 2006). The next song proved to be far better. That song was Ghetto Pop Life by Danger Mouse and Jemini.

With that browser tab in the background, I didn’t even see the song change, but I liked this new song and wanted a copy of my own. So returning to Pandora, and finding out I was listening to Danger Mouse, I wasn’t surprised, since Danger Mouse is the shiat. Pandora offers two “buy now” options – iTunes and Amazon. Off hand, I pretty much dismissed iTunes as iNever bought aDamn thing from Apple — not even my 80GB iPod Video, which was free to me.

I clicked the buy on Amazon link. When I saw the $12 price for a new CD, and the $8 price for a used CD on Amazon Marketplace, I had second thoughts. Moreover, I already had a recording of the song, since it happened to have a unique scratchy intro that made a perfect starting point to splice the mixes – regardless, I really didn’t need to buy it since I had it. After searching some torrent meta-search sites, I still couldn’t find the album.

Then I remembered, Discover Card randomly sent me a $15 iTunes gift card around the time I got the iPod, so I redeemed it but never used it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use the credit, since it still wouldn’t involve me actually spending money on an Apple product. Once iTunes loaded, I loaded the iTunes Music Store and searched for “Danger Mouse”. “Ghetto Pop Life II” showed up, but when I played the preview of the song, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I searched for a song named “Ghetto Pop Life” but nothing came back. For some reason, Pandora’s link to iTMS worked like a charm. Conclusion from this: iTMS “power” search sucks it dry.

I added Ghetto Pop Life to my shopping cart. Instead of checking out immediately, I decided to check out the rest of the songs on the CD. The iTMS sorts the songs on the album by popularity, and after checking out the first couple of songs, I decided I’d have to check out all of them since it might become economical to buy the whole album instead of the tracks. Indeed, it proved to be good enough to buy. One song stood right out at me and slapped me in the face.

As soon as I heard the hook, I recognized it. I recognized it because I had heard it on We Funk Radio, for whom I do some website mirroring. The thing about We Funk that makes it stick out a lot to me is, besides that its some of the dopest shiat on the planet, is that I used to make my own mixes of We Funk mixes, and then play those mixes at parties. These mixes would last hours, and 99% of the time it kept the party moving through the night. The other 1% was just weird. The thing is that 99% of the time I played the same mix. Even though guests at parties would be different, I would hear the songs all the time, and usually I’d hear the entire mix the whole way through. All but the closest friends ever noticed. Most guests come and go, but more importantly, in college people are simply too drunk to remember exactly what the play list was the last time. No one ever said enjoying a song once meant you couldn’t enjoy it again.

The song was Yoo-Hoo! by Danger Mouse and Jemini. If you know the song or listen to it on Amazon (Danger Mouse on, you could imagine it as the perfect track to play at a college party fueled by beer, Jagermeister, Jello shots, ping-pong balls, and of course loud music. Years later, Pandora helped me figure out the origins of one of the greatest songs from my college career.

There are a couple of things about this worth noting. First, I downloaded music despite that it contained DRM since it was both accessible and economical (free). I later cracked the tracks to remove the iTunes restrictions. Second, the iTunes music store’s search function didn’t work properly, so if I actually did want to spend money, Apple would have lost the sale to Amazon since I could actually find what I wanted on Amazon. Third, Danger Mouse is amazing and you should check him out.

So what about the iPhone?

This all comes back to the reason Apple was on my mind at all: the iPhone launch. Apple fanboys were out in full effect lining up to buy iPhones despite that there was actually no limited supply or reason for them to line up. It reminded me an orderly PS3 launch – no murders or anything, but people still figuring they’d be “worth something on eBay” and hording them, again despite the lack of supply issues. I’ve seen the iPhone, I’ve played with it, and I’ve heard the pitch from the most fervent Apple supporters.

Except that despite the popular reports, I think the iPhone is a piece of garbage, and here are ten reasons why:

1. AT&T is hands down the worst of the “big three” mobile providers. If Apple had half a brain, they would have used Verizon and cross-marketed the EVDO plans for mutually assured profit and enhanced quality of service. AT&T’s EDGE network uses five-year-old technology. Now the iPhone is married to their obsolete data network.
2. Magic text entry is unreliable. My fan boy friends insist I must “learn to trust it”. Only Apple could create a device a user has to actively trust to use. I can’t wait to see people trusting their iPod text input as they drive. The Palm Treo and RIM Blackberry phones don’t require trust, just an understanding of the QWERTY keyboard.
3. Custom ring tones aren’t available yet. Perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing considering the commercials I see late at night that try to get morons to text “FUN1” to 54545, then subscribe them to a ring tone service costing as much as $39 a month. This obvious feature should have been included since the whole point of the thing is to play music and be a phone.
4. The battery is inside the phone. Do you want to carry a spare while you’re traveling? That’s too bad. I’m sure we’ll see secondary external batteries, but how cool will the iPhone look with a second battery dangling from the bottom.
5. Bluetooth is only useful for headsets. Forget about using your iPhone as an internet access device through your computer, not that you’d want to, since the AT&T EDGE network is slower than molasses, but still. Treos support this. My four-year-old LG Verizon phone supports this through a data cable.
6. No file browser built into the iPhone. The file system on the iPhone is very inaccessible to the user. Why have 8GB of storage if you can’t manage and organize it easily?
7. You can only send photos by email one at a time. This relates to point six. You can’t take two photos, then compose a new email and include both photos, because despite the photos are stored somewhere in the phone, you can’t get to them from the email composition screen. You can email photos via the photo utility, but only one at a time.
8. The recessed headphone jack in the body of the phone rejects third party plugs by design. It just happens to be a perfect fit for Apple headphones, which happen to include a smaller-than-usual collar on the 1/8″ stereo plug. If your preferred headphones have all but the narrowest plug diameter, they won’t fit.
9. The internal GPS is inaccessible to users during interactive mapping. The iPhone can help you get maps and directions, but only if you can figure out where you are first. Don’t worry though; AT&T will always know exactly where you are even if your GPS is disabled. In addition, since AT&T has been bending over backwards giving the government all of its customer data, the federal government will know where you are as well. The only person that won’t know where you are is you.
10. Apple makes them. Just kidding, the 10th point is that they cost $600! For $600, it had better include a happy ending!

Call me a naysayer if you must, but here’s my one sentence summary of the iPhone: if you didn’t buy a first generation iPod, don’t buy a first generation iPhone either. The second generation iPod didn’t even have its quintessential jog wheel only style (without push-buttons), and there was no iPod Video until the fifth generation. By waiting just a few years, the price came down while the functionality only got better. Contract terms for the phone are also likely to get better over time.

Just in general, avoid products when they first launch. Rarely do they disappear before dropping in price and increasing in quality. Exceptions to this in the technology arena are Microsoft Windows Vista, which will only get progressively worse, and the Playstation 3, which also is not likely to increase in quality in my opinion. An example of a product that gets better with time and reduced price in price is Ubuntu Linux, which despite being completely free is getting better with each release cycle (and will soon be a serious competitor to Microsoft Windows). But Apple already knows about how powerful *nix is, since the iPhone basically runs Unix. Time to get back to that laundry!

Tags: Business · Complaint Department · Computers · My Thoughts · Technology

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lizzy // Jul 4, 2007 at 9:35 am

    hey pete….i always enjoy ur entries and this one was one of your best. I agree with all of your points on why the iPhone sucks. You made my day

  • 2 Pete // Jul 5, 2007 at 6:29 am

    Pete… the phone lines are over there! Dude your article was so good and informative we got it hanging in a few VZW stores to help the reps combat iphone questions. Good fucking article man. take care.

Leave a Comment