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I Just Need a Little Touch

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After wandering around at CTIA (usually hopelessly lost) I’ve decided that I was wrong. I need a touch screen and I need it bad. When the iPhone came out, the EDGE network, crappy AT&T coverage in Austin and the hype factor kept me away. Plus, the touch screen on my husband’s Treo had always flustered me. I liked the tactile element of hitting keys.

But the vibration in Samsung’s Instinct phone gave me that tactile fix, and the HTC Tilt allows for touching and a keyboard entry. Since many of the phones displayed at CTIA were retreads for the most part, I’m not going to get into them here, but touch is definitely in my future. After three days of playing with touch phones I find myself helplessly gliding my fingers across my BlackBerry display before returning to the pearl.

Part of my problem is how easy it is to find things using the voice search feature of Yahoo’s oneSearch. After using it bring up a menu of options on my phone with little effort, it’s almost painful to return to the cramped confines of thumb-scrolling and clicking. But the innovations in touch, voice search and input — and a greater focus on usability — present at CTIA are getting me psyched about the future of mobile devices. I’d like to think we’re getting through that awkward adolescent phase of the industry as the mobile phone grows from a voice-only candy bar to a full-on mini-computer.

9 Responses to “I Just Need a Little Touch”

  1. David Owens

    fortunately for me, ATT has proven to be better than the other providers where I live. I agree it is specific to that. I must be surrounded by cell towers, and looking at the ATT coverage map, I am smack dab in the midst of their 3G network. Can’t wait for my new iPhone.

    One thing not to be dismissed: the fanatical devotion to a product. I do not know, but I am certain nobody gives a flying ______ about Nokia or LG or whatever. I have had both and now are in landfills. My Blackberry, as I love to remind everyone, was the worst phone I ever had. May it RIP.

  2. Stacey Higginbotham

    Carter, I live in West Austin, and while driving along Bee Caves Road I could never hold a call. I tried AT&T again about a year ago with a basic RAZR and found the call quality to be poor as well. But with cell phones, it is truly a function of where you live and drive, so perhaps other areas of Austin fare better. For me, Verizon rocks the casbah.

  3. Carter B

    Crappy AT&T coverage in Austin? Come again? I’ve had AT&T (blue), Cingular (orange) and AT&T (again) coverage for more than 4 years hear and have never had a dropped a call and always had a strong edge signal even in the middle of large buildings in the suburbs. AT&T may have its problems in other major cities but in Austin it is very solid. Of course it is hard to compare with other services in Austin so it may not be best but in no way is it crappy. If you’ve had crappy AT&T recently in Austin, it’s probably the phone and not provider. Maybe your phone only had the 1900 band? The 850 band is so strong here.

  4. Three quick comments to your post. One is that while there is a tendency to put mobile into one bucket of idealized, composite functionality, the reality is that different people ‘hire’ their devices to get different jobs done.

    I write long emails and 500 word blogs on my BB 7130, and as in input device it rocks. Great phone, too. The internet experience does not compare, however, to the iPhone, and don’t even get me started on media functionality. That said, as an input device, iPhone is only decent, and while voice may be great for simple messages and search, in my case, that is the tail and not the dog for the voice and mail crowd.

    Two is that while the tendency is always to net out competitive factors as “just add touch based” the reality is that it is akin to confusing a bunch of chicken parts with a living, breathing chicken.

    Part of the magic of iPhone and its cousin, the iPod touch is that Apple has really nailed UI, workflow, usability, they have worked out the kinks in touch and accelerometer functions. It just works. Excuse free. The rest of the market MAY get there but execution is not trivial given the convoluted nature of the mobile market with device manufacturers, carriers, third party service providers and the like. Heck, Apple seemingly should not have the MP3 market to themselves given how commoditized the chicken parts are in that market. But they do.

    Lastly, the platform side of this is where things get interesting, as history suggests that he who secures the hearts and minds of developers, secures the gold, and Apple is in a very strong position wrt to the iPhone SDK. That story is early in its telling but it is the distinction between everyone else moving into adolescence and one company heading off to graduate school.

    Food for thought.



    Read: Reasons for Mobile Optimism – iPhone SDK