Readers consider taking the iPhone plunge

An informal survey of CNET readers indicates Apple has wowed many with the iPhone's design, but most will wait for a faster, cheaper version.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
3 min read
Despite all the hoopla over Apple's iPhone, it's still a first-generation product that bears scrutiny from potential buyers before they make the leap, according to an unscientific survey of CNET readers.

The iPhone has galvanized readers like perhaps no other technology product in recent memory. A simple question posed on Monday has generated over 900 responses, most of which indicate that Apple has some work to do before taking over the cell phone market.

Professional poll-takers would probably wince at the methodology, but a few common threads popped up in the discussion in CNET News.com's TalkBack forum about the iPhone. Almost three out of four respondents do not plan to buy the first generation of the iPhone, citing a dissatisfaction with the EDGE network that Apple and AT&T chose for the device, a reluctance to switch from their current carrier to AT&T, and a general distrust of the first generation of any technology product.

"I love technology (I am an IT director), and my personal concerns could be pushed aside in favor of an emotional purchase," wrote poster mike.gw, who is worried about the slow EDGE data network and about GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) reliability in general. "I may likely purchase one despite my concerns, but only after getting my hands on one to try out and see how well it might work for me."

News.com Poll

Calling plan
Will you buy an iPhone?

Are you kidding? I'm in line now
The next time I'm at an Apple store
After I read the reviews - maybe
When someone other than AT&T is the carrier
Not till the price is under $200
No 3G? No way!

View results

The concerns have been discussed at length. The New York Times' David Pogue called the EDGE network "excruciatingly slow." But that's just one of the problems, according to poster mbenedict.

"The iPhone is crippled...no Java support, missing stereo Bluetooth, weak 2-megapixel camera, no FM radio, no GPS (Global Positioning System), proprietary system, etc. It's also locked to a single phone company, and worst of all it's not even a 3G phone."

There were many who were captivated by the user interface and touch screen but felt that the iPhone, as it is currently equipped, just isn't the right device at the right time.

"iPhone is everything I've always wanted in a handheld device, but the storage is the deal breaker for me," said suninmoon0. "7.2GB is the actual size of the advertised 8GB, but even 8GB is not even close to what I will need for music, movies, e-mail, pictures and podcasts. When it gets to 20GB of storage, I will gladly pay 5-600 bucks."

"The iPhone is supposed to be the high tech of high tech, yet it's using the lowest-tech data chip," wrote joevfx. "I won't buy one until it's at least 3G, and maybe gets a GPS. And trust me, I want one bad. But I just can't justify paying $20 a month for unlimited data when it uses EDGE."

But there were plenty who enthusiastically embraced the iPhone and the combination of its design, software and features. Apple certainly has its loyal fans, but several of the positive responses appeared to come from people other than so-called "fanboys."

"I really like the full browser functionality," wrote NCNSolutions. As a Web developer, I feel it's an important step forward in Web development...I think Apple has set a new standard in technology."

"I think it's going to be a great phone, it looks as though it will fit my needs better than anything else out there and I've shopped around, and have had MANY phones," wrote Timbo39.

Apple's stated goal for the iPhone is to capture just 1 percent of the cell phone market by the end of next year, which would be slightly more than 10 million units. If--as many expect--the company comes out with a second model by then with a faster HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) chip, some third-party applications and more storage, perhaps the world will finally get a sense of whether the iPhone will be the breakthrough the company has promised.