Apple is releasing an expensive device that attempts to redefine an existing product category. Its user interface is so much more advanced, better-designed, more beautiful and more intuitive than any competitor's that it makes Steve Jobs burst into genuine tears of pride and joy. Apple's engineers have put incredible amounts of thought, love and care into details that competitors have largely overlooked so far.
Just about everyone loves the new device, recognizing it as a watershed. And just about everyone bitches about some glaring omissions and missing features.
And they are right. Apple could have conceivably added more and more features to the first shipping version of the product, delaying its launch, but eventually it had to draw the line somewhere. Of course, some (lots) of features didn't make the cut. And many of these are important. But it's a safe bet that most, if not all, of these will be added over time.
Initial reaction […] has been strongly, but not overpoweringly, favorable. A few traditional […] users see the [new user interface elements] as silly, useless frills, and others are outraged at the lack of [certain features], but most users are impressed by the machine and its capabilities. Still, some people have expressed concern about the relatively small [memory] size, the lack of [easy programmability], and the inconvenience of the single disk drive.Of course, I'm talking about the Macintosh. The quote is from Byte, issue 5/1984, page 339.
As for the iPhone: I wonder how long it will take Apple and AT&T to sell the first million. One week? One weekend? One night?
Now that the reviews are in, the consensus seems to be that the iPhone is a revolutionary device with flaws. Everyone has his or her favorite missing feature.* But the iPhone is already off to a better start than the iPod was five years ago. And boy, did that product evolve from the clunky, heavy, boxy kludge with the one-bit screen!
Apple has apparently mastered the art of show-stopping omission management. It makes bold guesses about which features it can leave out without having people not just complain about them, but also refuse to buy the product. Remember: the original iPod lacked an equalizer, among other things. It was easy to ridicule an MP3 player without such a feature, yet Apple went ahead without it. The omission was later easily corrected in software.
And a lot of the iPhone's missing features are, theoretically, just a software update away. And Apple has, somewhat uncharacteristically, already promised lots of (unnamed) new features.
Now, if only one could also download a GPS chip, a 3G antenna, and some Flash memory…
*Mine is the lack of copy and paste. However, one should realize just how much work it would, or rather, hopefully, will, be to add this: it needs a new gesture or a new mode, new buttons, new decisions, new metaphors. My suggestion would be an "edit mode," where "Cut," "Copy" and "Paste" buttons appear, and you select text by dragging with one finger; and scroll around by dragging with two fingers, à la MacBook and MacBook Pro.