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iPhone: got yours? Which one is it?
July 23, 2009, 4:47 pm
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In the top ten of ‘times I have felt very Asian’ would have to be when I pointed out to a friend that her brand new iPhone did not have the appropriate infrastructure to support dangly things**.

Not a great omission, you’d think.

That is, until everyone at the table gets their iPhone out, compares them, and then can’t figure out which is which.

Now iPhones come in four colours; Blackest Black, Whitest White, Covered and Heavily Smudged. Three out of those four don’t look very good (which is half the point of having an iPhone). This means that there is a proliferation of black iPhones with very little external recognisability.

How about an app that tells you which one's yours? It could scan the fingerprint smudges...

How about an app that tells you which one's yours? It could scan the fingerprint smudges...

For a company driven by good design, this should have come up as a potential problem. Currently about a third of my friends either already have an iPhone or are about to buy one. Not to mention the iTouch, which is essentially the iPhone except not a phone.

Macbooks are not much easier to recognise, unless one defaces that clean surface with stickers.

So far the only Mac product with any sort of external self-expression is the iPod Nano. Notably the addition of colour has not reduced the iconic status of the device.

True, the simplicity of Apple products has been touted as allowing them to be for anyone as ‘they can be whatever you want them to be’. But the practical issue remains.

So for the next iPhone, please Apple…we don’t care about copy/paste, turn that design genius to identification!

**As this post’s token irony, the iPhone doesn’t support Asian language input either.

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INQ1: the Facebook phone
February 17, 2009, 7:12 pm
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When the iPhone was released in Australia, there was a lot of debate about adoption rates. With only Vodafone and Optus offering it, even a Vodafone salesperson I spoke to told me the services didn’t fit the phone.

The pick-up has been moderate, mostly by Apple fanatics, but nowhere near what it could be if the services DID fit.

So I’m interested to see how 3’s first phone will do…

I’ve been wanting to see a combined phone manufacturer and service provider for ages – hardware and services make up about half of the customer experience each, how can you leave half to someone else?

3 made its backwards integration experiment through the new subsidiary INQ, with the first phone the INQ1 to be distributed solely through 3 in a similar manner to the Skypephone. Maybe 3 is the carrier in the best position to offer features like Skype at a profit – instead of charging call rates they can charge for data.

[EDIT: Just heard that Nokia is creating phones with a Skype application…look out!]

Unfortunate then that 3 is disbanding internationally, with Vodafone recently acquiring the Australian branch (does this mean we’ll finally get the data plans the iPhone needs?).

Still, it doesn’t mean that INQ is necessarily doomed…and it would be a pity, because the INQ1 is the first phone to be based around an online platform, namely Facebook.

That’s right – it syncs all contact information around your Facebook account, allowing you to see profile pictures and status updates in the same screen as your list of phone numbers. (Maybe that’s how Facebook is making its money these days.)

It will be one of a limited number of phones apart from the iPhone  to offer a variety of widgets including RSS feeds, Skype and Windows Live Messenger. It’s nowhere near as pretty and a touch screen doesn’t come standard but it’s also nowhere near as pricey.

I have one concern though: Facebook’s recent change in Terms of Service.

I haven’t been able to find any info on whether personal data synced with Facebook on the INQ1 will only be stored on the phone or whether it will also be relayed to Facebook’s servers.

If information is in fact sent to Facebook, then under the new TOS it will be their property forever.

Imagine if Facebook not only has your birthday, your education, your list of friends, interests and photos…but also all of your call records, personal SMS and appointments?

What if they’re keeping all of it?

Worse, using it?

What if that data gets lost?

[EDIT: As of 18/2, Facebook has reverted their TOS and is taking feedback from users. If you didn’t like it, make sure you have your say…]