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View Full Version : Microsoft slams iPhone as 'irrelevant'


MacBytes
Apr 20, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Category: Apple Hardware
Link: Microsoft slams iPhone as 'irrelevant' (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20070420122420)
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Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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IJ Reilly
Apr 20, 2007, 11:37 AM
If the iPhone is so completely irrelevant, why does Microsoft see the need to comment on it?

JNB
Apr 20, 2007, 11:39 AM
If the iPhone is so completely irrelevant, why does Microsoft see the need to comment on it?

Touche'

jholzner
Apr 20, 2007, 11:47 AM
Well, the proof will be in the pudding. Talk is cheap, lets just wait and see the sales figures. I'm sure there will be third party apps sanctioned by Apple upon release.

Oh, and why will "heavy" messaging be a problem? Have they used one? I'm guessing no.

Besides, Apple isn't going after business customers here for the same reason they don't with their Macs. Businesses are cheap and they will go with whatever is cheapest. Apple wants to make cool useful stuff, not cheap stuff.

nagromme
Apr 20, 2007, 02:34 PM
People like to think a physical keyboard is better because that's what we use all day on computers. But we use BIG keyboards, big enough to TOUCH type without looking. (And that's good because unlike a handheld device, computer keyboards are often too far from the screen to see well while you work.)

But a tiny handheld keyboard is right in your line of sight, less than an inch from the screen, and too small for your desktop touch-typing habits to apply anyway.

So I'd say it comes down to preference--not a magic "rule" that physical keys are always better. Some will prefer one, some will prefer the other--and both take some time to get used to and be efficient with. Maybe the time to get used to the touchscreen is a little longer before you're efficient--I can't say.

Tactile feedback IS nice, but an iPhone has its own very clear visual feedback (and maybe audible too)--and you CAN feel when you touch the screen. It's not as though you won't know whether you pressed the virtual key or not. (Even physical keys don't always have a clear tactile click to tell you when you make the contact--some have a soft squishy feel.)

So, leaving aside personal preference (which nobody can judge until the iPhone is out there), and assuming we're comparing SMALL devices (in other words, the keys are tiny), I'll weigh the pros of physical vs. iPhone keys:

Pros of physical keys:

1. Many people like the familiar (though not computer-like) feel. Small keys vary a lot, sometimes arranged in awkward curves, and some have a very POOR feel, but at least it's a feel!

Pros of iPhone multitouch keys:

1. With tiny physical keys, they really ARE as small as they look: you must be careful not to hit the other keys located less than a finger-width away from the letter you want. But with virtual keys on an iPhone, you're MEANT to touch the keys around the one you want. The iPhone recognizes the key in the center of your press, ignoring the other contacts. In other words, each key on the iPhone is functionally much larger--and more effectively spaced away from its neighbors--than it appears! And therefore much easier to quickly hit the key you want and ONLY the key you want. You can get out of the habit of worrying about nearby keys.

2. iPhone's aggressive on-the-fly spell-check with easy auto-correction.

3. The iPhone keyboard can adapt (functionally and visibly) to different contexts. For instance, when entering a URL there's a big ".com" shortcut button.

4. Virtual keys can be used in both portrait and landscape orientations without bulky, fragile hinges and pivots. Apple has not announced whether they will implement landscape typing, but they could. (Resulting in bigger keys and a wider typing area--and only when you choose: your choice of two keyboard sizes vs. two sceen sizes at will.)

5. Physical keys force the device's screen to be MUCH smaller, all the time, and/or the device itself to be MUCH larger! That's a high price to pay. The iPhone is thinner and lighter than most "smart" phones, and yet fits a much larger, higher-res screen (and much larger storage).

6. Virtual keys can be more clearly labeled and less confusing. Because they don't have to display multiple functions per key (http://www.pdabuzz.com/Portals/0/TreoCloseUp.JPG) at all times. iPhone's punctuation labels appear when needed, for instance, leaving clean alphabet labels the rest of the time.

7. iPhone's scrolling is better, and allows you to move the insertion point with a touch instead of multiple button presses. These tasks are often part of typing. Some physical-keyboard devices do also have a touchscreen, but even those devices tend to use old-fashioned scrollbars (which shrink the screen view even more) instead of iPhone's intuitive 3-mode scrolling: drag to scroll precisely, flick to scroll fast, tap a letter on the right to jump through long lists. (And iPhone's scroll interface takes zero screen space--yet still has visible scrollbars that appear WHILE scrolling, just to show you where you are.)

8. Virtual keys don't get dirty, jammed, or become unreliable like physical keys. They don't break off, and they don't catch on your pocket or carry case.

9. Virtual keys are extremely easy to see in dark settings!

So... is the "nice feel" of a tiny physical keyboard worth giving up those benefits? For some people, yes. That's a personal call. But other people--even "business people" (like myself) will PREFER to type on an iPhone. Some people will need to view Word docs on the go (which the iPhone may or may not do--OS X already does via textEdit), or will need a different kind of Exchange support... but many CAN live without those things, for the sake of the iPhone's many benefits. Benefits that help business users as much as anyone--maybe more (like browsing REAL Web sites with auto-zooming).

Also note that the iPhone removes one DISadvantage of touchscreens: errors from stray touches due to holding the device. One benefit of Apple's multitouch technology is that it intelligently ignores those extra touches.

iKwick7
Apr 20, 2007, 02:35 PM
If the iPhone is so completely irrelevant, why does Microsoft see the need to comment on it?

Or (supposedly) be working on a Zune phone.

nagromme
Apr 20, 2007, 03:09 PM
What about the marketing rule that says when you're in the lead (like MS) you shouldn't mention the underdog at all, because it raises awareness and legitimizes them?

MS should pretend (in public) that the iPhone doesn't exist. They shouldn't help the iPhone get even MORE headlines, and act like they feel threatened. Admitting it's a threat (which is how they come off) makes the iPhone be taken MORE seriously, not less.

Imagine if Apple ran ads (or even made public statements) comparing the iPod and Zune (Zune being the underdog in this case). Instantly the Zune would gain credibility as a serious product. Bad marketing practice!

Now, with the iPhone also being an iPod, you could say that the iPhone isn't a total underdog. But Apple is new to the field, and Microsoft is making Apple out to be a minor player, so MS would be smart to act like that. And even if MS were the mobile platform underdog vs. the Apple giant, it still wouldn't make sense to put down the iPhone UNTIL, maybe, MS has an actual product to compete with. (zPhone?)

MacbookSwitcher
Apr 20, 2007, 03:13 PM
People like to think a physical keyboard is better because that's what we use all day on computers. But we use BIG keyboards, big enough to TOUCH type without looking. (And that's good because unlike a handheld device, computer keyboards are often too far from the screen to see well while you work.)

But a tiny handheld keyboard is right in your line of sight, less than an inch from the screen, and too small for your desktop touch-typing habits to apply anyway.

So I'd say it comes down to preference--not a magic "rule" that physical keys are always better. Some will prefer one, some will prefer the other--and both take some time to get used to and be efficient with. Maybe the time to get used to the touchscreen is a little longer before you're efficient--I can't say.

Tactile feedback IS nice, but an iPhone has its own very clear visual feedback (and maybe audible too)--and you CAN feel when you touch the screen. It's not as though you won't know whether you pressed the virtual key or not. (Even physical keys don't always have a clear tactile click to tell you when you make the contact--some have a soft squishy feel.)

So, leaving aside personal preference (which nobody can judge until the iPhone is out there), and assuming we're comparing SMALL devices (in other words, the keys are tiny), I'll weigh the pros of physical vs. iPhone keys:

Pros of physical keys:

...

Pros of iPhone multitouch keys:

....



Your lengthy post makes one key reasoning error: you fail to assign weights to your points. Therefore, I would retort with one simple statement: the simple value of tactile feedback is potentially worth more than all 9 (or more) points in favor of a touchscreen keyboard, combined.

nagromme
Apr 20, 2007, 03:22 PM
Your lengthy post makes one key reasoning error: you fail to assign weights to your points. Therefore, I would retort with one simple statement: the simple value of tactile feedback is potentially worth more than all 9 (or more) points in favor of a touchscreen keyboard, combined.

I made no such error :) you must not have read what I wrote:

So... is the "nice feel" of a tiny physical keyboard worth giving up those benefits? For some people, yes. That's a personal call. But other people--even "business people" (like myself) will PREFER to type on an iPhone.

Seems like we are in agreement then :) The feel IS "potentially" worth more, as you say. And potentially not worth it, and different people will make different choices once they get their hands on both.

Muncher
Apr 20, 2007, 05:44 PM
Maybe MS should stop denying imitaion and clearly imitate apple. Then they'd get publicity, at least. I present to you, from the Orange division of microsoft, the "uTalk.":p :p