Longtime readers of this blog will know that I periodically lust over things, especially techno-gadgets. I have been pretty good lately in making do with the gadgets I already have: I’ve never owned an iPod, use a bare-bones cell phone, and keep typing away on my old PowerBook, even though the warranty has run out and it is slowly falling apart.
My sole technology purchase last year was a new car stereo for my 1992 Honda. The new one plays CDs, a quantum leap from the broken cassette player in the old one. That upgrade alone has made my driving hours much more enjoyable and productive.
But that’s not to say that I haven’t been following closely the evolution of the gadget I most want to own: the iPhone. Or, as some have snarkily called it, the God Phone. When it came out last year, I sat on my hands and reminded myself that 1) I didn’t absolutely need it; 2) I couldn’t afford it; and 3) it would be cheaper if I waited a few months before buying it. That is the logic of an eventual customer, however, not a die-hard skeptic.
Since the iPhone’s release I have been staying the course, noting in my travels any occasion where an iPhone might have come in handy. Like the time when I drove to a meeting but couldn’t absolutely remember the way there. If I’d had an iPhone I could have had a map in hand within minutes. Or the time when I was waiting for an important email but had no computer access. Or when my plans suddenly changed and I had time to catch a movie before my next appointment, if I only knew what was playing and where. (And that’s not to mention the many handy uses I could make of an iPod.)
None of these were case-closed reasons to take the plunge, however. They didn’t warrant an extra $20 on my monthly cell phone bill, for one thing. Besides, for me the iPhone was still hampered by one major deficit: the inability to create new documents. I am forever getting writing ideas while away from my desk, and therefore any mobile gadget had to have the basic ability to open a new text file and start typing.
Now there are well-founded rumors and speculation that an even better second-generation iPhone may be announced in June. Not only that, but my dream of an iPhone that is also a decent hand-held computer also seems to be within range. (Gamers are also getting excited.)
Simply put, my resolve is slipping. I can feel the Lure of the Gadget slowly reeling me in, like some giant consumerist tractor-beam against which my paltry logic is no defense. I would probably be standing in line with the rest of the geeks and hold-outs when the announcement comes next month, except for one last shred of reasoning: the Fall discount.
Early adopters of the iPhone were irate last Fall when Apple announced a $200 price cut just in time for holiday buying. No matter how amazing the 2nd generation iPhone is, odds are excellent that it too will be discounted after the summer rush tapers off. So, that is the extent of my remaining resistance. I will be assimilated, but with any luck it will not be until October, at which point I can find some comfort in the fact that I waited as long as is humanly possible before succumbing. Meanwhile, I foresee lots of deep breathing and hand-sitting in my near future.
As predicted, the new iPhone is super-cool. However, I will not be getting one, even when they get cheaper before the holidays. The reason? AT&T has exceeded my price-point for the monthly data plans connected to this phone: $30/month for unlimited whatever on their new 3G network, as opposed to $20 for the current iPhone.
I pay Comcast a ridiculous amount per month for basic cable and internet service. I pay almost that much each month to my local ISP for email, domain hosting, and a number of other web-based business needs. But at least these two companies have very good customer service.
There really are not enough disdainful words in the dictionary to describe what I think about AT&T, their abyssmal customer service, and the outrageous amounts they charge for just about everything. Still, I have a business phone and fax, a home phone, and cell phone service for my daughter and myself, all through AT&T.
Maybe this is a stupid place to draw a line in the sand, but literally when I heard that the were increasing the data plan charge for the new iPhone I lost all interest. They just pissed me off for the last time. Without some industry-wide regulation and consumer-oriented reform of pricing practices, I simply won’t indulge in a new iPhone. I wonder how many more people feel the same way.