Reason #3 of ∞ why I love my iPhone

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In my previous post titled “Reason #1 of 862.2 why I love my iPhone“, I shared how the iPhone has changed the way I get connected and also how it allowed me to gained true mobility. However, is this the only reason why it turned me into a believer of the iPhone platform? Of course not! Getting connected is just one small part of the whole reason behind this indescribable love for the iPhone. If all I want is to get connected, I would still have a lot of options out there to choose from, and cheaper ones too! In fact, the Andriod phones are much better when it comes to being connected, especially so when you get your emails, Facebook and Twitter accounts all available from the home screen of the phone.

So, what other reasons could there be that made me part away with a nice bundle of ka-chings to equip both myself and my wife with a pair of iPhones? The answer to this question is simple but difficult to explain. You’ll see why as you read further on.

I don’t think anyone disagrees with the fact that the iPhone is a pretty cool gadget by itself. The amount of thinking that has gone into the design of the iPhone can truly be felt and appreciated when you put the iPhone into your hands and (literally) slide the phone into use. All the subtle but intuitively-designed features makes it one of, if not the most ergonomic phones in the market today.

But if you break it down by the individual technology, there’s nothing really new that Apple has introduced. In fact, this is probably an area that the iPhone fare much worse then it’s counterparts! Camera? Bah, it is still a paltry 3.2MP auto-focus camera with no Xenon flash. GPS? Nothing new there. Multi-touch screen? Also not something new when it was introduced.

So what is that differentiates the iPhone as to the rest of the phones in the market? If you’re already a power user of the iPhone, I’m sure that you won’t be surprised when I say that the answer to that question actually has nothing to do with the iPhone itself.

Reason#3 of ∞ why I love my iPhone: The App Store Effect

Apple App Store

Apple released a press release very recently announcing that the App Store has topped over three billion downloads! Yup, 3 billion in a matter of 18 months!

That’s how big a deal is these applications are for the iPhone. And to be frank, it’s got very little to do with the iPhone itself. Most of these applications works on the iTouch too anyway! But if you are to own both a phone, as well as a handheld device that plays music and runs apps, why not just have one device that does it all? The iPhone just happens to be that device.

And looking back, I realised that one of the few reasons why I jumped over to the iPhone platform was because of several potential applications that I could see myself using on the iPhone, if I got it. At that point, I was fairly frustrated with the quality of applications that was built for the Windows Mobile platform. No doubt that there are some pretty good ones out there. But it was nothing compared to the amount of choices that I get from the App Store! And these are all high quality applications, some even priced very competitively!

Although I’d love to discuss why the App Store is able to attract the vast collection of quality applications, as well as of its interesting adoption of long tail, and freemium models, I decided against it for now to avoid digressing from the purpose of this topic. So whatever the reasons are, let’s just forgo it to a discussion in the for now.

In November 2009, Apple announced that there are over 100,000 applications available in the App Store. That is truly and astounding number indeed. There’s almost an app for every little need you might ever have. Need a level or inclinometer? You’ve got that. Need a financial planner? Tonnes available.  Want to keep track of your food expiration? You can get specific tracking apps that do that too! See my point? And add in a camera, GPS and a digital compass (3GS)  into the equation and we are now starting to see a whole new level of innovation in these applications. All you need is to just search the App Store, and decide to download it if it is free or purchase it for its price. That’s it!

And that’s my point exactly. I love my iPhone not just because I can pinch-zoom my photos or because it’s almost too easy to use. It’s actually because of the whole platform and application ecosystem that Apple has built around it!

To illustrate this point, allow me to share with you my typical day in life. This list will show how the iPhone has somehow allowed me to do things that may be not easily done before just because I have certain apps installed on my phone to help me do it now.

  • iPhone alarm rings – wakes up (OK, not quite an app here but the iPhone is involved :P)
  • Checks emails on iPhone – Reply urgent emails (This goes on throughout the day)
  • Reads latest tweets on TwitBird Pro – Reply any mentions or direct messages (This goes on throughout the day)
  • Gets updated news via Bloomberg app and/or TIME app
  • Gets to the car, turn on Waze app to make drive to work more fun (seriously just for fun rather than true navigation)… but sometimes helpful when fellow Wazers (rare still in KL) report traffic conditions. Otherwise, I make the report sometimes.
  • Listens to an interesting song on radio, runs Midomi SoundHound app to recognize song info. Checks it out later as it stores all my searches.
  • ‘Checks in’ at my destination on Gowalla for my virtual items hunt (fun factor again) and also sort of as latest location sharing with family and fellow Gowalla friends
  • At office, after meetings, captures whiteboard diagrams and notes and stores in online to Evernote (via it’s own app)
  • Spends lunch money, uses iBear Money to keep track of all my spendings, both cash and credit cards.
  • Sees some funny and interesting item on the street? Takes a photo, enhance it with text bubbles and perhaps enhance the photo and posts it immediately on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Have to attend a meeting in Putrajaya. Pulls out Google Maps to plan the route to the destination.
  • Reaches the destination early? Starts up Stanza to read a book, OR play some games while waiting.
  • Still waiting, ok, let’s check to see if there are any comments to approve with WordPress app or check the analytic statistics of the blog with bamAnalytics.
  • Still bored? Maybe chat with friends via IM+
  • Meeting starts, fires up Evernote again to take notes. Need to check product info? Pull out the huge PDF file via FileApp and gets the needed info.
  • Gets notified of a problem on a server host? Immediately logs in using iRDesktop and sees what the problem is.
  • Dinner time! Fires up buUuk for restaurant recommendations based on nearby locations.
  • Heads over to a bookstore, finds an interesting book? Use SnapTell to image recognize the book cover and find out the reviews on Amazon.
  • Gets home and laze on the couch. Too far away from my media-PC? Fires up Air Mouse, and remotes control my PC, fires up MPC and watch a movie.

Ok. It’s a pretty exaggerated day in life scenario there. But that’s what I can do now without even starting up my notebook? And these apps are all high quality apps. Some paid of course, but I get what I need to perform these tasks, some of which I might never do if I never had it available on my hands easily!

So, my point here again is that the quality and amount of applications available makes or breaks the platform it supports. This is where Apple has been very successful and therefore, so has the iPhone too. With so many applications available and eventually be available, I’m comfortably assured that my iPhone can have a long life ahead (as long as the battery doesn’t die on me) as it would eventually find new purposes via new applications. That’s why I love my iPhone and not just the iPhone alone, but along with the apps ecosystem behind it.

In the next few installments of this series, I’d be sharing more on how I’ve started to do things that’s never been practical before being enabled with the right application running on my iPhone. And as always, please feel free to drop your comments, nice or nasty. And for my facebook friends, please do so here on this blog if you can so other blog readers will be able to read your comments too!

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