July 1st, 2007
I want to talk about the significance of the iPhone. Not the technology, though that is pretty slick. Not how Apple has pulled another successful product launch out of wherever it is they pull them out of.
No, to me the most significant part of the iPhone is the way it’s going to impact practically every business going forward. The launch of the iPhone is probably the most important thing to happen in experience design in the last decade.
Yesterday I was at the Salem, NH Apple Store. Apparently, on Friday, the first person showed up to buy an iPhone the minute the mall opened at 7am. (He might’ve been there earlier, but mall security hadn’t unlocked the doors.) By 6pm, when the phone went on sale, there were 200 people in line. In Salem, New Hampshire. (To find Salem, draw a circle with a 35 mile radius to the north of Boston and write the word “NOWHERE” in the middle. Salem is right in the middle of NOWHERE.)
Of course, stories like this were repeated everywhere. Robert Scoble (seen below doing his Phillip Seymour Hoffman impression) showed up at 9:30 Thursday morning with his son Patrick to the Palo Alto store, just so they could be first in line. People camped out in front of the Fifth Avenue store in NYC for days.
Thomas Hawk wrote about camping out in line with the Scoble clan:
What a great thing for a father to do with his son. Patrick was so proud to be #1 in line. They made a big deal about it when they let him into the store first. That’s a memory that he’ll have the rest of his life. What a great dad to make that happen.
It started months ago, with the announcement of the device at the January MacWorld Keynote. There’s been a tremendous amount of hype and buzz ever since then. In April, a survey of American mobile phone owners said 64% knew about the iPhone and its imminent launch. When was the last time 2/3rds of mobile phone owners knew anything about the products in that market?
If all this doesn’t point to an excellent example of what experience design is all about, I don’t know what does. Apple has done an amazing job of creating an experience to be marveled at. (How many people camped out for two days to get their Zune?)
Of course, all the hype and buzz put a great pressure on Apple. If the product was a flop out of the gates, it would’ve been considered the greatest crash-and-burn in modern technology history. And there have been hitches, primarily with what everybody agreed would be the weak link in the chain: AT&T’s service.
Yet, in general, here from the prospective of 48 hours after the launch, the new experience has lived up to the hype. (Some would say it’s even better than they imagined.)
People are reporting how the experience makes them an instant celebrity. Lane Becker twittered earlier today about a flight attendant escort to the cockpit, just to show off his phone.
When was the last time anybody got excited over your mobile phone?
The iPhone has changed the game. From now on, it’s going to be much easier to explain why experience design is important. In fact, Apple may have just given us a one-word explanation. (Though, I did like what Rob Riggles, “senior technology correspondent” for the Daily Show had to say about it: “The iPhone is going to do for phones what the iPod did for pods.”)Tweet