Next Week, We'll Know All About The iPhone

As iPhone news trickles down into the mainstream, everyone and their dog is starting to blog about what they expect to see announced on the 7th. Here's my Eur. 0.02 -

The standard Motorola UI is horrid, and Apple couldn't have picked a worse match usability-wise - as far as I'm concerned, they could have picked any other manufacturer and gotten a better balance.

Now, for the other Eur. 199.98 (hey, you get your money's worth):

After becoming universally known as the "never twice the same UI" handset company and finally figuring out their market share was being gobbled up by other manufacturers with far better interfaces, Motorola standardized their current user interface into a squirrely maze of list menus under a top-level, bog-standard 3 column icon matrix.

That in itself wouldn't be that bad, if it weren't for the fact that every one of those sub-menus could have been designed by an entirely different person (different orderings, hidden submenus, entire screenfuls of input fields, the works).

Which means that there is a sizable risk of people buying Motorola phones based on an Apple user experience and being sorely disappointed, since their interface seems simple and spartan at a glance, but is incredibly bad usability-wise (an area where Apple-designed gear shines).

As to connectivity, well, it is poor to say the least. Any SonyEricsson or Nokia phone from the past two years has more (and better) data transfer options (with the exception of the standard USB port that Motorola has gifted some of their models).

IrDA, OBEX and Bluetooth profile support are incredibly basic, and I don't just mean "simple" - they're also flaky as hell, as anyone trying to import vCards into a Motorola address book will readily testify.

And no, iSync won't be much help, not when the phone's address book lists a separate entry for each phone number.

In the off-chance that they come to their senses and try to use a decent UI, there are two interesting options:

  • Their UIQ-licensed phones, which have an entirely different set of UI problems.
  • The much fabled "entirely new thing", which some pundits believe to be designed by Apple.

Either of those options entail entirely new levels of unfeasibility, both given the hardware requirements and the fact that anything that juicy would already have leaked all over the net.

So I'm betting on the "ugly iPod-like implant application" angle that some people have already hinted at, and deem it a pretty safe bet.

But if their E790 is going to be the basic iTunes phone, I won't touch it with a yardstick, since everything on the phone but the media player is likely to be their standard stuff, and I loathe the prospect of using any of it.

(I have an E1000 gathering dust in a drawer for several months now, and the UI and lack of decent connectivity are a very large portion of the "why".)

Furthermore, as far as I can see, having gone through pretty much every available (and a few not that available) Motorola devices in the past two weeks, storage options are limited in the current platforms, and TransFlash/mini-SD won't deliver really high capacity off the bat.

Syncing will be trivial (the internal card slot is exposed as USB storage), but I would bet that the current guesses of 25 to 100 songs aren't that far off the mark. So it won't kill off the iPod (or even be able to put up much of a fight).

So, with the prospect of unveiling a device that is not likely to be a good phone or even an average media player, Steve had better have something real good up his (short) sleeve this time - "One More Thing" won't cut it in this scenario.

Of course, he's been known to surprise us in the past, and there are likely to be more pieces to this puzzle (iTMS deals are a possibility, for starters).