Feeds

Sarin to Jobs: your sneakers stink and your GUI sucks

Playground taunts

The essential guide to IT transformation

Vodafone chief Arun Sarin is relishing a fight with Apple's Steve Jobs - and he aims to wound. But it's a throwaway remark the Financial Times published on Monday that caught the attention. It was surely designed to create maximum personal offence.

The iPhone offers the user a "a pretty poor experience", said the boss of the world's biggest phone network.

Can this be right? Jobs regards himself as a Prophet of the user experience, whose wisdom is then perverted by charlatans. Apple's multitouch UI for the iPhone has been described as the biggest advance in usability since the Mac.

It's hard to see what Sarin could have said that was more calculated to offend. Well, he could have said that Jobs didn't appreciate the beauty of good typography, or that the Mac had always had too many buttons: but these are easily refutable.

So the corporate dick-measuring contest between Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile phone operator, and Apple, gets personal.

(After this metaphor, dear reader, count yourselves lucky that we don't employ the kind of extremely literal-minded art director employed by one US business weekly. The magazine illustrated its story about the wheels coming off the iPhone bandwagon last week with an picture of an iPhone. With wheels. That were coming off.)

But does Sarin have a point?

It's unthinkable to American iPhone fans, where silent sobriety rules, and iPhones are contemplated in the Zen-like silence their inventor surely intended. But he might just be onto something.

Having used both implementations of multitouch on the market - the iPhone and the iPod Touch - I can safely say that the breakthrough UI suits the "viewing device" much better than the phone. The Touch is quite sensational - how could a simple music player be any better?*

Why does the iPhone then not do so well, on a device that's essentially the same? It's in how you use it. Europeans and Japanese users simply do a lot more texting than Americans - where few people over 25 have ever got into the habit. And entering text - which is rarely needed on the Touch - is the iPhone's Achilles Heel (tipping the iPhone into landscape model may fix this - a larger keyboard should appear here in landscape mode, but doesn't. Entering text in landscape on the Nokia N800's "huge"-sized keyboard really isn't a chore).

Nor is that the full story. A PoP (Plain Old Phone) is simply better in what we might call "adverse situations" - such as making a phone call from a tree while trying to rescue a cat, while driving... or being bladdered.

The coming few weeks will tell.

Britons spend December in a foggy cloud of Christmas Parties, work booze-ups - and then into the final straight of the holiday break itself: family get togethers in which reality is best tempered by even more alcohol. The whole country, I noticed when I returned for my first British December in years, looks like a bouncy castle.

Trying to text with an iPhone in such situations makes you want to chuck it against a wall. It isn't a fatal flaw. But it's splendidly ironic that Californians have designed a device based around "motion" - that requires the human to be perfectly upright and still.

Round here, what are the chances of that happening? ®

Slurred words to the author here please.

*Bootnote With internal stereo speakers, of course. The only practical Touch drawback.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?