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I don't have an iPhone.
This is not exceptional, I know. Lots of people don't have iPhones. Even people who work for Mac magazines don't universally have them (and in case you're wondering, to my knowledge, no one at Apple has offered us a review unit -- we bought our own).
But not only did I not get one on June 29, I recently decided, after much hemming and hawing, that I'm not getting one for the forseeable future. I do think it's a truly amazing device. I'm just not buying it.
And I came close. Hilariously close. I was even in line on launch day, at an AT&T store in Daly City, CA, but unlike several of my coworkers, I wasn't out in the field covering the launch. I was really just waiting in line. Leslie was in downtown San Francisco at the flagship Apple Store to document all the hoopla, so I was her backup, charged with procuring the Official Mac|Life Office iPhone in case the Apple Store sold out before she could get her paws on one. (Everyone knows how important it is to back up! Groan, bad joke...)
I waited in that line, somewhere in the neighborhood of #30, for three hours before the store opened. There were some funny moments (like the guy who didn't know about the 6 p.m. on-sale time and assumed we were all hanging outside, like, for fun or something, and the dude with the black leather jacket and matching fanny pack who I heard brag that he worked "in the Silicon Valley industry,") but mostly it was more boring than golf on TV. I sent Roman a couple of emails from my current phone, a Motorola RAZR, in attempt to feed him some stuff for his live blog. (I don't think he got them.) I read a whole issue of Wired from cover to cover for the first time in months. I left voicemails for a couple friends. Ho hum.
At 6:00, when the line started to move, and a few minutes later, when early adopters began to giddily scurry out of the store with their shiny new prizes, the excitement, naturally, ramped up. Just not mine. Leslie called from the Apple Store, and it sounded like pandemonium over there. How close was I, she wondered. I told her, pretty close, maybe five minutes away? Her position was about the same. Ooh, a race to get the office iPhone! That's exciting, right? Right? Finally, I was on the precipice, literally three people away from entering the store and completing this quest.
And then I left. Well, first I heard back from Leslie that our 8GB iPhone had been purchased at the Apple Store, meaning I didn't have to get one anymore. You know, for the office. Since I was so close to the door, I had about a minute to make my decision. Go inside and buy my own, as I'd been anticipating with glee since the Mac Expo keynote where the darn thing was unveiled? Or just bail, get in my trusty Joey JoJo Junior Subaru, and jet back to SF for a vegetarian burrito from Taqueria Cancun? Or cruise back to the office, meet up with Roman and Leslie, and play with their iPhones until they pried them from my vicelike grip, at which point I'd most likely cave in and order my own from Apple.com?
I went home.
Leaving the line was actually pretty funny. I turned to the guy behind me (who had already chided me once for not advancing as automatically as everyone else, carelessly leaving gaps between me and the fellow iFans in front of me), said "That's it for me! Goodnight, everyone!" and stepped under the velvet (OK, OK, plastic) rope to head to my car. I heard the gasps, but my only regret is not turning back around to check out the faces. Oh well.
Why didn't I get one? Basically, I wanted to think about it. I wanted to be able to play with it first, and I wanted to wait and hear what kinds of problems the first-revision units might have. I'm all for early adopting in theory, but in practice, I can only buy so many toys, so I want to make sure each one is something I'll really use, and use a lot. And something that will last, something I won't feel like upgrading in a year, even if today's gadgets do seem more disposable all the time.
I love Apple products. I adore my iPod. And Steve's right, I hate my phone. Not to mention that I tend to be juuuust disorganized enough that having a handheld email-and-Web machine might really help me accomplish a few things in transit that I would otherwise forget about by the time I'm back at my Mac. I am a great candidate for the iPhone. But dude, it's just too expensive! I mean, $599 for the phone (there's no way I'd get the 4GB one to save $100, either) isn't even that bad, IMHO, but $600 plus $60 per month for 24 months is another enchilada. That's $2,039 before any taxes or those extra fees tacked on to every phone bill. That would buy a lot of burritos.
So for a while I was torn, because while the price is high, I'm not even able to say that it's not worth it. This is an awesome phone! And iPod! And Internet machine! But for me it comes down to four things: 1) I'm cheap, 2) I don't trust myself to stay in love and free of buyers' remorse for a full 24 months, 3) I'm incredibly afraid that I'd lose it or break it before the contract was up, and of course you can't get insurance on it, and 4) I'm even more afraid that, if I did buy one, another, better one would come out before my two years were up, and then of course I'd go ahead and buy that one because it's SO much better and I can't imagine life without it. Thus sucking me further and further into the Apple Spiral of Products That You Can't Refuse.
Sometimes it's better to not know what you're missing. In my case, I know what I'm missing, and I'm still choosing to miss it. Am I crazy? Is the $60 a month I'm saving going to make my life better, or will I just wind up blowing it on Diet Coke and talk therapy? Feel free to take me to task in the comments section, below. In the meantime, I think I'll take some of the money I didn't spend on an iPhone...
...and finally buy myself a Nintendo Wii.