The iPhone: making life easy for Normobs

Last week’s post from The Really Mobile Project.
Returning to my favourite theme of ‘Normobs‘, I’m intrigued by the way the iPhone has changed my wife Jo’s approach, not just to mobile telephony, but also to using her laptop.
Since buying an iPhone she’s tended to use it for most of her emails and much of her web browsing. For Internet use the laptop is very much a fall-back device rather than her first choice. A few days ago Apple COO Tim Cook suggested that if you want a netbook, buy an iPhone. Bias aside – Tim clearly doesn’t fall into the category of an independent observer and Apple doesn’t yet have a netbook offering – he does have a point. Jo’s use of the iPhone indicates that for some users and some activities an iPhone can be a PC replacement.
We all know the App Store has been a game changer and is being copied by Nokia, BlackBerry and Android and yes it’s great fun for us mobile geeks to dig up new stuff. However it’s also changed the way Jo uses mobile technology. She certainly never bothered to look for apps for her Nokia S60 handset. Who would unless you’re a serious mobile geek but now she’s customised her iPhone with loads of extra stuff from the App Store. Why? Because it’s so easy and it’s Normob friendly. Plus Apple’s accreditation process ensures that applications do what they’re supposed to do and don’t screw up your phone.
The way the iPhone manages connectivity is again perfect for Normobs. Why should users have to decide when and whether to use WiFi rather than 3G or GPRS? All they want is the best connectivity available and the iPhone’s seamless management of WiFi and 3G, plus bundled hotspot access to commercial access points, makes this an invisible process to users.
As a mobile geek it’s easy to criticise the iPhone spec; 2MP camera without flash, applications can’t run in the background, limited Bluetooth connectivity, no cut and paste, no user replaceable battery and so on. But users love it because it makes technology simple and the user interface is aesthetically pleasing. How often can we really say that technology is simple? Technology providers invariably make products and services over complex for their customers but Apple (and hands up I do criticise them for other transgressions) makes it easy.
Now where did I put my S60 handset …!

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