the iPhone empire

Building an empire is never easy. Take Steve Jobs. Here’s a guy who has built an empire named Apple, and that empire has a bite taken out of it — on purpose. Yesterday Jobs unveiled iPhone 4, which is the natural extrapolation of “what’s next” in technology. iPhone 3 introduced a camera. iPhone 2 introduced messaging. iPhone 1 introduced, well, the whole thing. Before that was Alexander Graham Bell, founder of both the telephone AND the $2.72 local surcharge fee that so many of us — myself included — used as the impetus behind finally canceling our home phone.

That’s the power of a technological empire. To cause people to dump their home phones, a faithful appliance that has been there since phone numbers were only 2 digits and operators (always named “Jenny”) had to manually plug your phone into another phone hole. That was the empire and it has been crumbled by a new one. More and more people will buy phones because of iPhone 4, either because they love it (some will stand in line for hours) and others because they hate it (I want the opposite of an iPhone: everything else!).

I got into a delightful discussion with someone regarding the iPhone just yesterday. They didn’t see what all the hype was about, and couldn’t understand how people could need such a device. I long for that kind of outlook. Emily and I both have iPhones — thanks to the empire building of Steve Jobs — and may not ever go back to a traditional cell phone, and most certainly not to a land line. The cord doesn’t even reach to the post office, let alone to our vacation destination in Florida. Even using a traditional cell phone, though, with its lack of touch screen and Windows 87 ™ interface leaves us feeling like Neanderthals. Once you’ve used an iPhone, it’s hard to go back. It would be like sitting in a leather chair one day, only to find it replaced the next day by, say, a pile of nails.

Steve Jobs has built an empire. We’ve signed on. I’m not terribly happy about this because it means I’m e-mailing, webbing, phoning, texting and trying to order from the Taco Bells — all at the same time. Am I frying my brain? Possibly. Do I have a harder time focusing? Hey! Let’s go ride bikes!

When will iPhones go the way of Alexander “Graham” Bell? At our current rate of technology growth, probably less than 10 years. I laugh when I think of my Grandma’s old rotary dial, mostly because it wouldn’t go past 7. My kids will not laugh at my iPhone when they’re older because I don’t laugh at museums with fossils on display. I am intrigued by them.

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