Monday, December 14, 2009

iPhone users described as 'delusional'

I've always been bemused - sometimes annoyed - by the blind loyalty displayed towards Apple products by those who buy and/or use them. Now an interesting study by Strand Consult has provided evidence that this isn't just accidental.

Simply put, Apple has launched a beautiful phone with a fantastic user interface that has had a number of technological shortcomings that many iPhone users have accepted and defended, despite those shortcomings resulting in limitations in iPhone users’ daily lives.

When we examine the iPhone users’ arguments defending the iPhone, it reminds us of the famous Stockholm Syndrome - a term that was invented by psychologists after a hostage drama in Stockholm. Here hostages reacted to the psychological pressure they were experiencing, by defending the people that had held them hostage for 6 days.

Below is a selection of some of the arguments that various hard-core iPhone fanatics have been using since the iPhone initially launched:

1. The first iPhone was not a 3G phone: What do you need 3G for? You can easily use the iPhone without using a 3G network and anyway, 3G is not particularly widespread, so this is not a problem.

2. The phone cannot send MMS: There is no need to send MMSs, hardly anybody sends MMSs.

3. You cannot forward a SMS: This is a function that hardly anybody uses and was therefore not included in the first iPhones.

4. The phone has a poor camera: The built-in camera is perfectly adequate and the iPhone takes fantastic photos with its camera.

5. It is not a real Smartphone, it cannot multitask: The phone has all the necessary functions and the OS is technically superior compared to other Smartphone OSs currently on the mobile market.

6. The iPhone cannot multitask, resulting in a great number of applications being unusable: The absence of multitasking is a deliberate design decision resulting in a faster UI.

7. You can not change battery on the iPhone: How many customers run around with spare batteries? None or very few.

8. Apple decides which applications you can install on the phone: This is good, because Apple thereby ensures that you do not get inferior programs on your phone.

9. The app store is a closed universe: Apple knows what is best for end users, which is good for the many iPhone users.

10. The phone does not support Java, so games need to be developed especially for the iPhone: Java is slow and not properly integrated with mobile phones, games for the iPhone are much better because they are directly developed for the iPhone.

11. The app store contains numerous small trivial commercial programs: The app store’s large selection gives users the freedom of choice and the many small programs help make the end users daily lives more fun.

12. It is difficult to use the touchscreen for fast SMS messaging: The touchscreen makes the phone easier to use and you quickly get used to it.

13. The iPhone is a low technology phone packaged in a sleek design: Apple has taken the combination of the design and UI to the next level, therefore the technological specifications don't really matter.

14. The quality of the phone is poor, calls are often interrupted and network coverage is poor: It is a good phone, these problems are due to the operators’ networks and not the phone.

15. You can only purchase the iPhone from operators chosen by Apple: Apple has spent a great deal of time and energy selecting the best operators for customers.

16. The iPhone is targeted at a niche segment and will not be able to develop further: Apple has succeeded in designing a phone for people that appreciate design and user friendliness.

17. The iPhone does not support memory cards: Iphones already offer the necessary memory people require and end users can choose between two models, one with a little memory and one with a great deal of memory.

18. You can not install your own browser: The browser Apple has designed is so superior that you do not need any other browser on your phone.

19. You cannot use the iPhone as a modem for your portable PC: People that have an iPhone do not need their portable when on the move.

20. There is no radio in the phone: You do not need a radio in your iPhone because the iPhone supports iTunes that offers almost unlimited music.

There are many arguments for and against the iPhone, on the other hand there is no doubt that Apple has some of the most loyal end users on the market and that iPhone users will go out of their way to defend the phone they love and worship.

There are many similarities to the Stockholm Syndrome and from an outside perspective there is little doubt that many mobile phone manufacturers are most probably envious of the users on Apple's platform. In reality the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.

The full Strand Consult report on the iPhone and its users may be obtained here.

Needless to say, Apple fans are already up in arms about the report. The comments at 9to5Mac make interesting reading, to say the least! Of course, some of those comments might be said to prove Strand Consult's point . . .



Morris said...

That report is pretty spot on in my opinion. I would not get an iPhone for business use in a fit. I find the Win Mobile smart-phone I use to be much better for business. I do have a iPod Touch which is a great music player and a few of the apps are well done, the interface is *very* well done for touch use, but it does have those severe (IMHO) limitations. The main (huge) limit in my opinion is the inability to multitask.

Vonster said...

I'm a life long Apple user and reason why is it's the best tool for my job. My web site speaks for itself:

That said many of the arguments the PC crowd likes to draw upon are at best old hat and tiresome regarding the MAC -vs- PC debate. It's just a tool, I just prefer the more elegant and dependable tool. But I digress.

The majority of the iPhone arguments posted are honestly limitations of the network the iPhone runs on and not the phone itself. Some of the arguments are very weak like the radio, it's on the iPod Nano and will be on the next iPhone no doubt. Plus there are apps you can use to listen to radio on an iPhone now. I hate AT&T access speeds and network, so why would I want to use my iPhone as a modem? My laptop has wi-fi and I just use Boing Boing anyway?

AT&T was the only provider that would change how things were done in order to launch the iPhone to begin with. So Apple has been stuck pushing out features a lot of users would have liked to see far sooner.

Once the contract ends with AT&T you'll see an exodus of iPhone users moving over to other carriers when the market opens up.

I've always found it humorous that PC users feel obligated to point out how much Apple users like their product. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Re #7: A co-worker has an iPod touch with a dead battery that I can have pretty much for the asking. If I can get the battery replaced without breaking the bank, I might get into it, but otherwise the battery thing is the big reason I haven't bought one of those or an iPhone.


Betty said...

I've always been annoyed by people, upon finding out that I use Apple products, instantly believe that I am some sort of blind follower Apple snob. Just like some gun people, when they find out I own an HK, instantly think I'm an HK snob and hate Glocks.

My Mac is the tool I use to bring money into my home and put food on my table. My iPhone syncs perfectly with it and allows me to check for urgent emails on deadline without having to walk on over to my actual computer, allowing me to enjoy more uninterrupted time with my son.

Gaven loves the baby apps I have on it, and on many occasions it's gotten us through very long car rides.

And I can also program my Direct TV DVR with it.

But you know what's scary? My brother has an iPhone app where, as an example, he can type in my husband's phone number and then call me up. I see my husband's name, number and picture pop up and I think it's him calling.

Anonymous said...


I've always found it humorous that PC users feel obligated to point out how much Apple users like their product. Why is that?

20+ years of annoying, smarmy Stockholmish Syndrome (like I just prefer the more elegant and dependable tool. But I digress.) tends to do that to you.

The majority of the iPhone arguments posted are honestly limitations of the network the iPhone runs on and not the phone itself.

Like the lack of cut/copy and paste?

No, some of the arguments are certainly a result of the AT&T network. But most are due to the Apple design lockin. There are benefits to such a design. But there are lots of tradeoffs, and lots of times where the "elegant and dependable" choice is obviously flawed, or becomes so. The utter inability for most Mac fans to accept that not everything is positive about Apple decisions leads to comments like BRM's.

Ought to get me cranked up on the MacBookPro I got issued. I won't be so brief as BRM.

Crucis said...

3G not widespread? That's just pure idiocy. Sprint's 3G network has been fully deployed for several years and is now deploying their 4G network. Around a dozen metro areas now have 4G capabilities.

These folks are about three years behind the current state of the art.

benEzra said...

> "Like the lack of cut/copy and paste?"

I just copied and pasted this statement into the reply box on this first-gen iPhone (8GB A1203 running OS 3.0), and am happily typing this reply on the touch-screen keyboard. No, it's not a Blackberry's chiclet keyboard; I came from a Palm TX and prefer this style.

Thing is, I am the furthest thing from the alleged Apple cult follower; this phone is the only Apple product in my house, aside from iTunes on my Dell PC. Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it a better match for MY needs than a Blackberry? Yes, I believe it is.

Some accuse Glock enthusiasts of the same kind of product worship as the "study" alleges I am afflicted with. Maybe it's true for 5% of users, but the other 95% may actually have weighed the pros and cons for ourselves. Of course, to those who view the choice of an iPhone as a sign of mental illness, such arguments will be taken as further evidence of "Stockholm syndrome" on my part. Well, believe what you want about me; I don't like 1911s either, so I guess that proves I'm mentally incompetent.

Personally, I'm curious as to who commissioned this particular hit piece. I somehow suspect the motive was not mere scientific curiosity...

Anonymous said...

Wow, benEzra!

Big fan, love your work on DU/Guns.

Yes, there's cut and paste now. There wasn't initially, and that glaring gaping lack was excused away by the people BRM is referring to.

Thus my comment. It was a failure, and one that was "Stockholmed" away by several early adopters that I knew.

Thing is, I am the furthest thing from the alleged Apple cult follower

Then I don't think that BRM was talking about you. I certainly wasn't.

Is it a better match for MY needs than a Blackberry? Yes, I believe it is.

Sure. If you're evaluating it fairly, and not presuming that since it's from Apple it is free from flaws, and any decision they made was the best and most obvious one - hey, it's the phone for you, and more power to ya.

I'm reminded of a bunch of guys I knew who bought Macbooks about 10 years ago. They didn't care so much about the OS as the battery life - at that time, 6 hours, versus the average PC laptop of barely 1. For the reasons they were buying them, it was a perfect decision.

But the Mac Cultists that bought the same laptop (with some severe deficiencies), merely because it was the latest Apple Laptop?

I don't like 1911s either, so I guess that proves I'm mentally incompetent.

Ooooh, yeah, it _does_. Sorry 'bout that.


LabRat said...

All stereotypes contain some kernel of truth and this one is no exception. Vonster's comment ought to be framed and added to the original post as proof; he manages to blame all the iPhone's limitations on some other company and insult all other companies' products in the same breath.

Yeah, it's completely possible to like Apple products and recognize that they, and the corporation, have flaws and tradeoffs. I'd say that this describes the majority of users. And yeah, there are people that are JUST LIKE this post describes, and heatedly telling the unbelievers there aren't while getting personally defensive about it tends to underscore the point.

Speaking as a complete Apple infidel, I'd note a lot of these issues are fundamentally the same issues with iPods or Macs. Apple designs very shiny, stable stuff that is almost completely limited to offering the applications and being serviced, adjusted, or customized by the Apple corporation. You will use it in the ways Apple thinks best, and if you like that, then it's great.

Justthisguy said...

I wonder how much of an intersection there is between the set of Apple fanboys and the set of Obama voters.

tmoney said...

The problem that so many of these complaints miss and the reason why Apple fans seem to be so mindless when they write the complaints off has nothing to do with any sort of stockholm syndrome or any other such nonsense. The people who rattle off these lists of faults always miss the simple point that the individual technical superiority does not a quality product make.

The number of phones that existed BEFORE the iPhone (meaning, pointing to the Droid doesn't count) that satisfied all of these complaints AND provided all of the benefits that the iPhone did over its competition was exactly 0.

Guns are actually a wonderful analogy. Assume for a moment the way a 1911 felt in your hand was just horrible, it made it more difficult for you to shoot on target and made the process of target shooting less pleasurable if not downright miserable. Now, this young upstart company comes along and produces this plastic "toy" gun called a Glock. If that gun fits better in your hand and makes shooting more enjoyable for you, then the fact that it isn't a metal construction, doesn't do DA/SA, and doesn't have the heritage of a 1911 means absolutely jack. And when you dismiss people's complaints because they don't matter to you, you'll look the same fool as the iPhone owners. But the only fool is the one who sticks with a product they hate simply because someone else thinks the alternative sucks.

I didn't like the idea of plastic guns for a long time. But I had the opportunity to shoot an Springfield XD, and it will be the next handgun I purchase, that it's plastic doesn't matter compared to all the other benefits.