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Totally an iPhone 3G Owner

After a slightly aggravating false start this morning, I am happy to report that Orange’s Department of Fixing Number Portability Goofs did whatever it was they had to do, and when I returned to the France Telecom shop this afternoon, my iPhone was ready for me to take home.

Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was sync it with iTunes so that I could actually use it, and as I had an appointment that would keep me away from home until the evening, I’d brought my laptop along for just that purpose. I selected a nearby cafĂ© on the basis of having determined, via a quick peek at my AirPort menu from a sidewalk bench, that it had free Wi-Fi. (I assumed, correctly, that iTunes would have to connect to Apple to complete the registration and setup.) Unfortunately, by the time I’d ordered a drink I discovered that the Wi-Fi access was only available to those staying in the adjoining hotel and who therefore had a special code needed to log on. Ah well, it’s always something.

Anyway, I eventually got the phone registered, got my data synced, and began exploring it in earnest.

My initial impression after a couple of hours? Totally amazed. To be fair, given the low-tech phone I’d been using for the past six years, I suppose I may be easier to please than people who were already used to having monster everything-and-the-kitchen-sink phones. But I’ve just had a series of revelations along the lines of “No way! I could have had that in my pocket all this time?” My whole concept of what was possible (or at least is now) has expanded greatly.

Which brings me to why I’ve finally taken the plunge, despite my earlier protestations that I wouldn’t. My main argument against getting an iPhone (or an iPod touch, for that matter), had been that it simply wasn’t worth the money. I spend most of my time at home – no commute, no regular trips to the park to jog or the gym to work out – so the device would probably just sit on my desk, and I have computers that serve my needs there; no need to spend a bunch of extra money on another gadget. Secondarily (and partly related to being at home so much), I spend so little time talking on my cell phone that even my ultra-cheapo pay-as-you-go plan provided far more minutes than I could ever

Here are my reasons for changing my mind:

  • Price. Saving a couple of hundred euros over what the earlier generation cost is, for me, anything but trivial. I didn’t mind signing a contract to get the subsidy (though I could have paid lots more to get it contract-free) because the monthly price is the same as what was available for the earlier-generation iPhone, and any plan I got (even pay-as-you-go plans) with enough 3G data service to do useful work was bound to cost a bit anyway.
  • GPS. I’ve wanted a GPS for a long time (mostly for navigating while on foot, not while driving, so the absence of turn-by-turn directions doesn’t concern me), but I couldn’t justify the cost. However, free with the purchase of a new cell phone definitely works for me.
  • Clutter reduction. As I go about my business in Paris, I typically need to have at least three things with me all the time: a city street/mĂ©tro/bus map (in the form of a small but thick book), a cell phone, and a camera. Sometimes I also need a French dictionary, so I end up lugging around a backpack to carry all my stuff. Now, except when I have a special need for a higher-res, higher-quality camera, I can carry just one object instead of many. That makes my pockets happy.
  • Cable reduction. I’m on a quest to reduce the number of cords and cables in my home, especially things that plug into the wall. Being able to have one less AC adapter (using a USB cable for syncing as well as charging) helps. (Next step: replace some of those AC-powered hard drives with FireWire bus-powered models.)
  • MobileMe. I’ve written a great deal about .Mac, and I want to be able to write about every aspect of MobileMe – including the aspects that require an iPhone or iPod touch – without constantly leaning on other people to explain how things work on their devices.
  • Traveling light. One of the reasons I do most of my work at home rather than, say, in the nearest park or cafĂ©, is that it’s just a pain to haul my 17″ MacBook Pro around. And yet, I always seem to need to do a bunch of things that I couldn’t accomplish without it – until now. Sure, I still need a real keyboard and copy & paste to do substantial writing, but thanks to clients for SSH and VNC, iPhone blogging tools, and other nifty applications, I can now do much of my work without a full-size laptop.
  • Voice recording. I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I’ve wished I had a voice recorder – not just to make notes to myself but to record what other people are saying to me in French so that I can review it later and decode the bits that I missed (which tends to be a lot of it). Now I have one (or several, thanks to a variety of third-party software options).

Time will tell if or how this ends up revolutionizing my life – or whether I just become much more efficient at matching sequences of jewels.

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