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Why I Didn't Buy An iPhone

IMB_iphone1 Earlier this weekend, I sent a tweet noting that I was in the market for a new phone as I looked to upgrade my cell phone contract with AT&T and I mentioned that I was considering an iPhone. As I expected, I was immediately responded to by over a dozen folks talking about how much they love their iPhone and how it has changed their life through technology. Don't get the wrong idea – I have tried the iPhone and I think it's a great product. This is not an anti-iPhone post, but rather an exploration of something many of my digerati counterparts and connected colleagues may find shocking … that someone could choose not to get an iPhone and be ok with it. So here's my reasoning:

  1. IMB_LG_Vu I have a Blackberry for work. Being a digital kind of guy, I get asked on occasion why I don't have an iPhone. My main reason so far is that I have a Blackberry from work where I can already get email, browse the Internet, access maps and locations online, send Twitter updates and more. The only problem is, my work doesn't pay for cell phone access – so I still need a phone to make calls. But to get another phone and pay for a data plan myself seems redundant (and no, I'm not saying they are equivalent choices – the Blackberry is definitely more limited with what you can do).
  2. Expectation of Apple price gouging/discounting. As I started thinking about purchasing the iPhone, more than a few people suggested to me that I may want to wait for an upcoming announcement from Apple about a newer version, or perhaps a discount on the current models. Given their track record, the honest truth is that I don't trust Apple not to lower the price or introducing a new product as soon as I purchase it. For TODAY, that offered me enough doubt to spend some effort looking for other options instead of just blindly going for the iPhone.
  3. Avoidance of significant ongoing investment. Currently, I don't pay for any data plans on my personal cell phones and don't purchase any accessories like applications, ringtones or games. If I got an iPhone, not only would I pay a higher upfront cost (many other phones were virtually free after a rebate) – I would also need to pay a recurring data plan fee which I would otherwise avoid, and any incremental fees for applications I buy (and based on all the cool applications I know exist and those I've seen from friends, I would end up buying quite a few). At the end of the day, all this adds up to over $1000 extra dollars per year to get the iPhone. Ultimately, I'd rather spend that money elsewhere.
  4. Found a deal too good to ignore. The more practical reason I didn't go with an iPhone (and perhaps the most important) was because I found a deal in the AT&T store where I could get two new LG Vu* phones (also with a touch screen), for about $10 each – after factoring in the instant rebate and my corporate discounts (none of which are available on the iPhone). That combined with the fact that I needed two new phones instead of just one and reviews talking about the great sound quality of the phone were the last piece of this experience that helped me decide.
  5. I actually enjoy not being an "Apple guy." As someone who has written a lot about brand personality and how individuals respond to the more personal attributes of a brand, I am a BIG admirer of their marketing and how it inspires a cult of Apple supporters (reinforced by products that live up to the marketing). I have also been vocal in the past about how I'm not a blind supporter of all they do either and take pride in not being a "fanboy." Does this mean I don't have any Apple products? Definitely not. But I'm not in the category of people who believe Apple can do no wrong, and I'm happy about that.

So there you have it, my five reasons why this weekend I decided against getting the iPhone. Let the barrage of comments telling me how much I'm missing out on begin …

*DISCLAIMER:
LG is currently a client – but I have done no work on the LG Vu and didn't get any pricing or consideration from LG for writing this or choosing their phone. Honestly, it just happened to be the best phone for my current situation (and is currently AT&T's best selling model this week and next due to their March Madness promotion where you can get 2 months of mobile TV for free).

29 thoughts on “Why I Didn't Buy An iPhone”

  1. Thanks Rohit…this really helps. I’m in the exact same position now. I have a Blackberry and am considering bundling all my services with AT&T and getting an iPhone. I’ve been on the fence for a while on this. Been looking at the new BB Storm as well as the Vu.

    I’m interested to hear what you think of the Vu.

    It’s actually funny the amount of looks I get from people when I pull the Blackberry out instead of an iPhone. At conferences they think I’m crazy for NOT having an iPhone. Like you, for a few reasons, I’ve hesitated to make the jump.

    Really appreciate your perspective.
    jp

    Reply
  2. As a brand professional you really need an iPhone or at least an iPod touch. What is happening with the app store is really revolutionary – this is mobile computing not just a phone. But I’d wait until June when the new phone comes out.

    Reply
  3. Hi Rohit,

    Interesting you brought this up; I’ve been wrestling with a new phone decision for a few weeks, and had come down to the new BB “Niagra” (reported as coming to Verizon, my carrier, soon) and iPhone. My issues are a little more difficult to resolve. The area I’m in sits in a cell coverage black hole, where even Verizon’s network barely functions. I have all my cell calls forwarded to my land line unless I’m on the road. So any cell phone functionality is lost nearly every day, all day long.

    I do send/receive text messages successfully from where I am though, and I love having a physical qwerty keyboard. It’s fast, error-free, and I like to actually touch the keys; the tactility allows me to speedily enter my message. I’d be interested to hear opinions on whether ANY of the touch-screen keyboards can produce text as quickly or error-free as a physical one. I’ve tried out the storm and iPhone for typing, and although I know I’d get used to it, initially the touch-screen format seemed slightly slower and less accurate. I’ve heard a few friends mention they have to correct mis-placed keystrokes fairly often with their touchscreen phones. What’s your opinion on touch-screen (iPhone, BB Storm, LV Vu) VS physical keyboards for mobile text input?

    Price-wise, the iPhone is quite a bit more expensive than my other options to acquire, operate, and the app purchase issue you mentioned is also a factor…BUT…if it made my day more productive, it’d be worthwhile without a doubt. Good tools are worth the price, it’s just a matter of matching my needs with the right ones, and from the input and experiences shared by iPhone-using friends, I would bet the iPhone would fall into the good–or great–tool category. Unfortunately, I don’t have the coverage where I am, so either AT&T needs to alter their coverage map for me, or I need to move somewhere more coverage-friendly. Neither will happen anytime soon.

    There’s something to be said for meshing with peers communication-wise. Many of mine use iPhones, and the trend seems to be picking up a head of steam, more and more are adopting the iPhone each year. Certain apps and functionality would not only become useful utilities but would also facilitate networking and p2p communication, due to using common platform and apps. Kind of like being in a company where everyone’s running one OS and plaform, and I’m on one that doesn’t match…I’d be out of the network and miss some communication opportunities. To a lesser degree, but certainly comparable in some ways, not having an iPhone leaves me out of my p2p network. This is an inconvenience and when I’m on the road or at events, a communication disadvantage.

    Ideally, I’d like an iPhone thru Verizon, with a physical keyboard, at a lower price, and with reception that reaches me in my cell-unfriendly location…You think I’m asking too much? 😀

    Best,

    Dave Cynkin
    Co-founder, CMO, Sleep Deprivationist & Thrill Seeker
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo, Oct. 15-17, 2009

    Reply
  4. Rohit,

    I also “boycotted” the iPhone. Although, it is very cool, I felt like AT&T was trying to take advantage of their users by requiring them to subscribe to a data plan double the price of their other data plan. I sure showed them! ; )

    Reading your book right now. I am loving it! Do you do public speaking engagements? Our employees at work sooo need to hear your message!

    Katie

    Reply
  5. I had a blackberry but it was when I got an iphone that I was really truly able to embrace the power of mobile. A blackberry is web enabled but you can’t really use the web with it. It changed the way I use my phone and my understanding of mobile advertising, social networking and more.

    Reply
  6. How funny, I do got an LG Vu yesterday. I’m calling it my training wheels for the iPhone. My situation is slightly different, but like you I veered toward the LG Vu for practical reasons.

    1. It’s cheaper – and I’m currently not working full time

    2. Waiting for a newer, better iPhone.

    I actually can’t wait to get an iPhone because of all the amazing apps. But for now, getting used to the touch screen is enough excitement for me!

    Reply
  7. Hi Rohit I enjoyed reading and this really strikes a chord with me. I’m also proud of not following the apple crowd…not for the sake of it but because I actually don’t think they offer the best mobile (cell!) product. I just wrote a blog entry lst week on why I think the Nokia 5800 is better than the iphone in terms of accessing social media…

    Rob

    Reply
  8. Standing ovation! It is more than okay to go against the grain. I hope that’s what most people take away from this post. Sometimes you have to ask yourself the tough questions and just do what makes sense for you. In a sea of iphone owners I don’t feel the least bit odd. I have my reasons.

    Reply
  9. Congrats on the phones. I just needed a phone and got the Samsung Omnia from Verizon, which works really well for my purposes. And I have the iPod Touch to enjoy most (though far from all) of the apps.

    Reply
  10. Try to find a good deal with an HTC Diamond. They have several models, all of them surpassing what you can do with and iPhone. With some customization you can use them as wifi routers to give internet access to your laptop or a colleague in trouble. They are amazingly well designed, have the best keyboard access and well, see for yourself.

    Reply
  11. The iPhone is not about Apple. It is about an innovator with a strong brand changing the carrier / handset maker game. Let the carrier manage the network. And that seems to be hard enough.

    Apple has destroyed the stupid dream, that carriers will sell music, videos or apps.

    Well done. Let the value migrate.

    BTW buying a locked phone is pointless. My iPhone cost EUR 700 and is still cheaper than any “subsidized” iPhone

    Reply
  12. I just got the HTC Dream here in Singapore running on Android (think it’s the same/similar to the G1 where you are) and I’m liking everything except the camera. I have never wanted an iPhone because I can’t deal with touchscreen keypads (and I tried the iPhone many times to try to understand what people liked so much about it). I guess I’m just not an Apple fangirl, much as I like their marketing. In fact, I just sold my Macbook and have been talking about getting the Dell Adamo, much to the chagrin of many friends on Facebook, who think I’m out of my mind.

    Reply
  13. I understand the new iPhones might have cut-and-paste functionality built in.

    Seriously… you did the right thing. When it comes time to upgrade, look at the Windows Mobile phones made by HTC. They are incredible, and you can find one for any carrier. They are extensible, and they have a lot of horsepower for getting real work done. WiFi, tethering, real Office apps, the works.

    Windows Mobile unfortunately loses steam because it is branded as “Windows,” so everyone assumes it is a loser. It’s not.

    Reply
  14. I’ve never liked the term “fanboy”, it’s so sloppily pointless. “Blind follower” is a far more clear, if not as terse, way to put it.

    I dislike anyone who jumps to conclusions with an angry comment after having NOT read the original post carefully, which is why I’m glad you prefaced yours boldly, Rohit.

    I heart Apple products and generally prefer them to the Windows experience. At the same time, I too, acknowledge the Apple price premium is often more than I’d like to pay. However, I’m still willing, because in the case of my Mac Pro, money spent is time saved and an overall happier me.

    I don’t have an iPhone because I don’t need a cellphone, but I do have an iPod Touch I enjoy. My wife likes playing the games, something I didn’t expect when we first bought it, but we’ve since discovered the joys of the App Store.

    Reply
  15. Rohit,

    It was great seeing you at SXSW. I didn’t know you were one of the houdlouts without an iPHone… I thought Geoff Livingston and I were a few of the only holdouts.

    I travel a lot, and while I PREFER AT&T (esp. for international), I can’t use it because the service is really poor in the area I live (midwest).

    I felt a little uncool with my “ghetto phone” at sxsw…a Verizon-powered Motorola Q…(which had been dropped a few too many times). Yet, I was delighted to find that I was one of the ONLY people at SXSW with service and connectivity the entire time!

    So, when it came time to look up conference room locations, or party directions — I was the go-to girl…I tweeted and surfed with ease.

    Even if I didn’t have AT&T, I might not have an iPhone after the experience at SXSW… It seems to me that folks with iPhones are in LOVE with their phones — but not because they have good service for discussion/connectivity. Isn’t that the entire point? Call me a pragmatist, but until that issue clears and prices come down, I don’t see shifting…except maybe to a Crackberry with a camera – or maybe a Vu…will check into that.

    Just sayin’.

    Thanks for steppin’ out. iPhone holdouts, UNITE! LOL.

    Reply
  16. Rohit,

    Found this post through @geoffliving. I got a HTC Touch PROâ„¢ from Sprint a week before I headed to SXSW. I, like you, found a deal too good to refuse. I love my TouchPro! Granted it doesn’t have all the apps that the iPhone has, however I am not, for the record, suffering any buyer’s remorse.

    In fact, there was a lot of AT&T/iPhone whining going on at SXSW as no one could surf, get txt, emails, etc as THE 3G network was clogged. I had no issues what so ever with Sprint’s 3G while in Austin. It was nice not being an “Apple girl” at SXSW.

    I’m surprised at how many iPhone users voice that I missed out on the hip factor by going with the TouchPro. I guess I don’t feel that my mobile device defines me so completely. There’s a little more to my tech essence than mobile cool apps…though, Rohit, I do have this really cool router app that isn’t available yet (key word “yet”) on iPhone that I need to show you ;->.

    Reply
  17. The iPhone is very cool, the more you agree not to get one, the more you strengthen the cult around it. For years pc evangelists laughed off a mac user’s enthusiasm, and look where it got them. Right at the bottom of the Intel food chain. Windows users are all envying a Macbook Pro or the Apple TV, they just don’t want to spend the money because they have been spoiled with Chinese slavery when it comes to the Windows platform and the machines built around it. Mac surely can do wrong, but don’t get the mac community started on the Windows way of thinking. Viruses, made by Windows users because they hate Windows? Compatibility issues, why, to stop sharing of information? Come on, really, who would want to be a part of a movement that does that? No ways, Apple for life.

    Reply
  18. I just don’t understand how you can write a review on an iPhone if you don’t own one. I also do not understand how you can be influential in Marketing, if you talk about about things that you ignore… but hey maybe that is what its call marketing…

    Also if you don’t plan on spending money on technology you are not a technology guy… cause “technology is always changing” … you should know since Steve Jobs and many other techies mentioned this same quote already…

    One last questions how could you enjoy not being a Apple guy? oh that is right you say you “may own own some”… does that means do you really love Windows Vista? cause Blackberry is only in your phone… BTW I use Windows (unfortunately) at work, Linux and and Windows and Apple at home. I really enjoy my apple products…

    Cheers

    Reply
  19. One would hope that after two years there would be other options on the market that meet needs in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling second best. Hopefully this same competition will lower the iphone cost of ownership —

    Reply
  20. My wife and I made the same decision a few months ago the LG VU is a great-Phone Yes the added cost of internet use with the I Phone at double makes no sense-Plus the Vue is technically a great Item- I have A Macbook and a G4, but to me the I Phone breaks the back of practicality-

    Reply
  21. Rohit,

    My Chief Solutions Officer and I were just talking about you, and she suggested I do a little more digging on you.

    She emailed me: “You need to look at this site: https://www.personalitynotincluded.com/. It is absolutely one of the best book promotion sites that I have seen.”

    I enjoyed your iPhone post for a number of reasons, but mostly because of its unique and contrarian point of view.

    I still remember typing away on the old Macintosh Classic and falling in love. But, just like the hot flame of a first love often burns out and gives way to the demands of real life, I had to move on.

    My iMac still sits on my desk. But I’m writing to you on my PC.

    Ahh, first love. There’s nothing like it.

    Thanks, Rohit. I look forward to learning more from you.

    Talk soon,
    ~Noah St. John @noahstjohn

    Reply
  22. I was just like you – a hold-out against the iPhone madness. Proudly! I always had a top of the line Windows Mobile PDA/phone of some sort, instead.

    Then my wife surprised me with an iPhone a few weeks ago, for my birthday.

    And I absolutely love the goddamn thing.

    Reply
  23. Good luck on getting that rebate on a cell phone, Rohit. I’ve been waiting for mine from T-Mobile since mid-December.

    Reply

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A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

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