Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh
The reality of the cell phone market is that there are two primary segments: functionality and fashion.
The RAZR was a bastard in terms of functionality, but it was a success in fashion. Newer Blackberries become must-haves for PHB and middle managers because they *look* so much better than the old ones. In almost none of these cases is the core functionality the incentive to purchase, or more importantly, upgrade the phone. People buy a new one because it looks better.
Clearly the fact that the RAZR is the best selling phone in history must validate this fact...
The functional market is very different; it is broken into two distinct groups - feature and anti-feature. The feature groups want the built-in microwave oven functionality, and the anti-feature group just want a damn phone that makes calls.
Where Apple has been most successful with the iPhone marketing from what I see is the group whose functional demands are minimal, fashion value high, and help to convert them into higher-end function users. That is simply good marketing. It has nothing to do with 3G, RDF, or anything else. From standing in line though, I know that the bulk of the first two weeks sales were people that would be broadly classified as fanboys. The more politically correct term would be "early adopter..."
I think the form/function thing is a real red herring, when it comes to software/hardware devices like the iPhone.
To a large extent, the iPhone is the interface. Yes, it's thin and nicely made and all, but when you look at it, your looking at the UI. In that sense, its form is
So when we talk about the iPhone being "elegant", we mean it in a different sense from, say, a pair of shoes or a bit of jewelry, which are entirely defined by their look and which is what is implied by your use of the word "fashion".
The iPhone's look derives from what it does-- large, scratch resistant surface, made as thinly as possible, with an interface designed around touch and multi-touch, with a particular emphasis on exposing functionality and cross linking same.
The interesting thing about asserting that the iPhone is being bought by people whose "functional demands are limited" (and who must therefore be buying for "fashion") is, I think, that it gets it exactly backwards.
The reason that there is such a category as "I just want a damn phone" is because many, if not most, people are aware that "features", on a cell phone, generally mean added complexity and cost without providing much benefit, because most people can't figure out how to use them.
This is a point that keeps getting dropped: most phone UIs are horrible. Yes, I know, various camps have their adherents, who swear that they have a phone that works just fine for them, but the fact is is that most people who got talked into buying phones with internet or email or media features couldn't use them if you put a gun to their head.
"I just want a damn phone" isn't some kind of inevitable stance, anymore than "I just want an email box" is an inevitable default position for any large percentage of computer users. The difference is that most people can sort out how to do a bit more than email on their computer, because the functionality is typically exposed at the top or nearly top level, whereas most phones militantly mitigate against venturing very far away from pressing the "call" button by burying functionality behind tiny buttons and nested menus. If you don't know anyone who is literally afraid to start delving into the possibilities of their phone, for fear that they will "break it", then you travel in fairly narrow circles.
At this point the conversation usually starts to recapitulate the old Windows/Mac debate, System 7 vs. Win 95 days: Macs are only easy to use because they are toys, real work requires complexity, anyone "smart" or "serious" should be able to learn how to use their tools and there is something faintly shameful in "easy".
What the iPhone does, in fact, is put things like email and the web and media playback into the hands of the "I just want a damn phone" crowd, which, for that segment, is a huge upgrade in functionality. So in that sense I think that comparing the iPhone to say, the Blackberry, and saying that it for the "less demanding" sort of misses the mark. It does ninety percent of what the Blackberry does, but in a way that people who would never dream of mastering such a "business" phone can actually relate to.
Which is, for lack of a better word, elegant.