iPhone: Cool, Wishing It Were More Local

I had a great time playing with a friend’s iPhone this weekend. The thing is really nice – even more beautiful in person than in pictures and sturdy beyond expectations. And fun, too.

But maybe I won’t buy one for a couple of years. It isn’t so much the 4 or 8 GB of storage (we’ve grown spoiled). Or the AT&T service. Or the Web surfing, which with a Wi-Fi connection is pretty fast (but with a footprint too small to enjoy doing much more than sports scores).

My biggest quibble is the hard wiring of the 16 feature buttons. Sure, you have text, calendar, photos, camera, map, weather, clock, calendar, notes and settings, phone, mail, the Safari Web browser and iPod. But dedicating one of the precious buttons to “Stocks”? And another one to “YouTube”? In version 1.0, Apple isn’t letting you change them out.

If the buttons have to be preselected – ideally, they would not – it would have been really great for the local ecosystem if one had been slotted for a  local TV station site. Or a local newspaper site. Or a local search service. Imagine how an iPhone placement would restore CBS’ lost luster.

The robber baron side of me fantasizes at how much CBS would pay for such a great slot. Or a Gannett. Or a Yellowpages.com. Truly, local could be all over this device. Maps and weather are a great start. Using Yahoo! Maps on my friend’s iPhone on Saturday, we found the right turn to the vineyard. But Web browsing via the touch screen keyboard won’t do it. We need more local buttons.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ask Bjørn Hansen

    Hi Peter,

    Hah – indeed! We were in Portland this week for a conference (where we often were in groups with more than 50% iPhone penetration 🙂 ). We needed lots of local searches done to find food and drinks during the week. The Google Maps are super slick, but the data and the search for anything else than addresses is pretty bad, to put it mildly.

    Over at http://www.yellowbot.com/ we have a mobile/iphone site in beta and it works pretty darn well (heck, except for the Javascript Google Maps even our regular site works well on the iPhone).

    To your point about the buttons: Apple is a great software company and I’m sure they’ll figure this stuff out.

    – ask

  2. Ask Bjørn Hansen

    (eh – and I really mean “in beta” for this one, not the fake “it’s a website, so of course it’s “beta”” kind of beta. Hopefully we’ll get it polished and tested some more over the next few weeks so we can announce it).

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