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The iPhone is going to dominate the discourse this week because it’s an easily comprehended story and one people have been following for years. It’s not about technology, it’s about drama: Apple and Verizon have strong “personalities” that readers connect with emotionally. It’s something people know, something people understand, and something people have been primed to accept.

Rest assured, this product will sell millions. It won’t do so immediately, because most U.S. phone owners are stuck in two-year contracts, and they may not be willing to pay high early termination fees to get this new phone. But it’ll be a big success.

I’m just a little sick of people saying everything Apple does is perfect, and frankly, I’m glad the AT&T exclusivity deal gave other mobile operating systems – most notably Android – time to grow. The AT&T exclusivity lock prevented the smartphone market from turning out like the MP3 player market, where Apple playing the game right relatively early on basically prevented any music player other than the iPod from ever truly taking off.

Hopes, Dreams and the Verizon iPhone

Since Verizon and Apple have such huge places in the public consciousness, they’ve been painted as the saviors of not only each others’ failings, but answers to everything that everyone in America dislikes about their cell phones. Way too many people feel that the “Verizon iPhone” will make perfect calls and get super-fast data connections every time, like some sort of impossible mobile messiah.

Obsessing about this product is also a good way for consumers to cope with the dizzying array of smartphone choices out there. There’s something called the “tyranny of choice.” You can have too many channels. With a Verizon iPhone, many people will feel they no longer have to worry about whether any other product would be good for them. Just go for the Verizon iPhone. No need to consider options.

However, the Verizon iPhone will probably be neither particularly innovative nor particularly forward-looking; it’ll be a new network for an existing phone. Come on, people. The iPhone is great, to be sure, but there are other great smartphones out there as well. They just don’t have the personalities, the drama, or the cachet. Who can name the CEO of Samsung? At the end of the day, what the iPhone has that other platforms lack is the emotional connection.

I don’t hate the iPhone. I really like the iPhone; I gave the iPhone 4 a 4.5 rating and an Editor’s Choice, and I frequently recommend it to people. It’s an excellent mobile computer. What I hate is how the iPhone has a vastly disproportionate grip on public consciousness, and how some people seem to think Apple’s choices are so ideal that no other options are valid.

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8 Responses to “The iPhone is going to dominate the discourse this week”
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