iPhone Instant (gratification) Messaging

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2007, 14:38
Category: iPhone

It’s been four full days and I find that I am still in an inebriated state when it comes to my new iPhone. Every time I pick it up to make a call, check my schedule or listen to a tune, I can’t seem to put it down. I dare say I have quickly become addicted to my new device. While I will make no claims that it is perfect, it has certainly exceeded many of my expectations.
There is one thing though, that knocks me into sobriety every time I think about it.
Were the hell is the Instant Messenger client?
Seriously, the developers of iChat didn‚Äôt think to include one of their most heavily used Internet applications in their brand-spankin‚Äô-new hand-held Internet device. Hello, who fell asleep in that meeting? While I’m not expecting to see iWeb on the iPhone I was looking forward to iChat.
I know this wasn’t some hideous blunder- that the iPhone team ran out of white-board space when listing what applications needed to be in the first release. It was obviously left out intentionally- but why? To sell it as an add-on application later; even though it is freely available on every Mac? Or perhaps it was at the influence of AT&T, attempting to gouge iPhone users out of an additional US$20 per month.
Isn’t it enough that AT&T didn’t have to subsidize the phenomenal price of Apple’s initial foray into the mobile phone market? Not to mention the number of new subscribers they must have picked-up as the only service provider offering the most sought-after phone in the history of mobile technology.
Both Apple and AT&T are making a fortune on this partnership. It is not my intention to begrudge them. I’m thrilled with the phones success and with a 55% profit on each unit, the board at Apple could fill the executive conference room with cash following the first few days of sales. Now there’s a party I’d like to be invited to‚Ķ tunneling through cash in Cupertino.
So my question is simple: Why? What were they thinking, that we would all be happy with an iChat-esque SMS window? That we would be able to ‚Äúchat‚Äù with friends, family and business associates via SMS and limited to reaching them on their cell phones. Sadly, I don’t have everyone’s cell phone number on my IM list. Even if I did, I wouldn’t put them in a position to pay 10 cents every time I had a quick question for them, with an additional 10 cents for them to reply (and God-forbid if they are roaming).
Over the last four days, I have spent more time emailing and Web browsing from my iPhone then I have my PowerBook. Through my experiences, it is obvious that Apple spent a great deal of time producing some well thought out and amazing smart phone applications. So much so, that I haven’t thought twice about my Treo since I copied over my contacts and put it in my desk drawer. But I’ll give one last shout out to my 650, at least it had true IM functionality. I was always connected, always available, all the time.
Yes, there are Web based IM clients that could be utilized through the Safari mobile browser. While I was thrilled to find them, (gracias Senior O’Grady) using them on the iPhone comes with a number of inherit limitations and so far has proved to be rather clumsy. After using the iPhone web-browser, iPod and numerous widgets like ‚ÄúWeather‚Äù and ‚ÄúStocks‚Äù I’m sure Apple would want iPhone users to have a similar experience when it comes to Instant Messaging. Since Apple doesn‚Äôt seem to want others developing Apps for iPhone- a slick, always available, widget-like Instant Messenger can only come from Jobs and Co.
Personally, I refuse to use SMS as IM, even if you paint the iChat interface over it. And I’m certainly not going to drop another US$20 per month into the bucket so I can pretend to have IM functionality. SMS is not the same; it serves a completely different purpose and it limits ones reach as well as their ability to be reached.
I can only hope that this was a timing issue and that the iChat Widget didn’t make it out of the oven in time to be at the launch party. If that is the case, hopefully that adorable blue chat bubble will appear on my iPhone home screen in the near future, as a software update.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of PDA Apps that seem to have missed the boat. My wife, in particularly would like to see an e-reader. I’ve locked on to IM as I find its absence glaring in such a product.
So yes, I have some issues with my iPhone, but to be honest every time I pick it up, I tend to forget what they were. (until I want to Instant Message someone)
CLG

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