Phones

Verizon IPhone: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

We're not even two weeks into the new year and we've already enjoyed our first completely overhyped story of 2011: the Verizon iPhone.

Yesterday the Web was agog over the entirely unsurprising news that Verizon will soon be selling a CDMA version of the Jesus phone. Literally thousands of stories, six of the top ten Google trending topics, and a gazillion tweets later ...

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: What are the odds Verizon can avoid AT&T's mistakes with the iPhone? Place your bets now. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Sorry, I just lapsed into a coma. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, the Verizon iPhone, a six-month-old phone that won't do some of the things the current iPhone 4 does (like simultaneous voice and data) but will do some of the things it won't (create instant Wi-Fi hotspots).

And oh yeah: If you desperately crave an iPhone you no longer have to deal with AT&T. For some folks, that was a deal breaker. (But miraculous and life-changing? Not so much.)

Last night on "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart was so thrilled with the news he devoted a 7-minute segment to it, during which he trashed AT&T as thoroughly as humanly possible about its inability to make phone calls in New York, one of AT&T's more notoriously oversubscribed areas. It's worth watching.

As a former AT&T sufferer, I can relate. One of the reasons I quit AT&T was because I wanted a phone that actually makes phone calls. But I've never been all that keen about getting locked into the Apple ecosystem, either. It's kind of like joining a cult; once you're in, it's really hard to get out. (Also, they tell you what you can wear, hold to hold things, and when you can go to the bathroom.) So I went with an Android phone from Motorola.

I've had nothing but trouble since. I'm now on my third Motorola Cliq handset and have downgraded back to Android 1.5, which is what came with the phone when I got it more than a year ago. It's barely functional, but I'm done messing with it. And I'm looking seriously at ditching it and using a 5- or 7-inch slate for my portable nontyping computing needs. Believe it or not, I kinda like the Dell Streak.

I suspect (as has been predicted elsewhere), that as iPhone users flood the Verizon network, they too will experience some of the same frustrations that AT&T users bitch and moan about -- at least until everyone is on 4G (or possibly 5G or 6G), when some of those bandwidth problems disappear. It will be interesting to see if Verizon, which routinely gets high marks in consumer surveys, starts to slump toward AT&T at the bottom of the charts as a result of iPhone mania.

I think we're quickly moving toward a universe where making phone calls is so small a part of what these gizmos do that many people will stop using them for such a purpose. In fact, I predict more and more folks will resort to carrying a phone that is simply a phone -- cheap, small, extremely limited and highly reliable -- and do the rest of their picture taking, chatting, tweeting, Facebooking, and more on a tablet. Lord knows there will be enough of them to choose from.

Would you ditch your smartphone for a dumb one that actually lets you make calls? E-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

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