iHype: Is the iPhone today's Cabbage Patch Kids?

Media hype about the iPhone inevitably prompts comparisons to other product launches. Remember Beanie Babies?

My friend Chad, a techie and savvy lawyer at a tech firm, and I had lunch today where we spent more time pawing at my iPhone than catching up. He said to me that he's been reading blog after blog, review after review and lusting after one of these puppies. Apparently, there are now outages of the 8 gig, which validated my 10-hour wait, in some part.

Anyway, in the midst of sitting at a street cafe on Belden Lane on a sunny day in San Francisco we were more focused on the hot little item in our hands than the hot weather here. But we paused for a moment to reflect on how successful Apple has been at creating such hype, buzz and popular attention for the iPhone.

We had to think long and hard as to the last time as when popular media and imagination was captured with a mere product launch. Cabbage Patch Kids? Beanie Babies? No, the last time, we agreed, was probably the launch of Windows 95. It's pretty funny because, as Mac-philes will note, Macs had a great graphical OS for some time already. To me, the iPhone is the difference between having a DOS-based user interface and suddenly fast-forwarding to Mac OS X. That leap also happens to be the difference between my Razr and the iPhone. Hence the paradigm-shift comparison.

But we mused that the iPhone launch is somewhat more social than that for Win95. Sure, you have to bring an iPhone home to activate it, but it is inherently a mobile device, unlike an OS, which was inherently stationary. The iPhone is to be pulled out at dinner parties, lunches and on the bus. Will it become ubiquitous as an Evian bottle? What's keeping it from this level of usage, at least today, is the price. As such, the iPhone may well assume its place as a yuppie/guppie status-symbol accessory that just happens to have the functionality of no other device up to this point. The first must-have of the 21st century? Perhaps, but how cliche.

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