Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why iPhone Didn't Get Me (Yet)

(Cross-posted from ChatterBox blog)

I have used a Palm for a number of years: Palm IIIe, Zire 71, Treo 600, Treo 650, and currently my Treo 700p -- and love smartphones.

But I have used Apple computers for even longer -- Apple IIe, IIGS, Mac Powerbook G3 and most recently my 24" iMac -- so I was naturally intrigued by the iPhone.

Three factors made this a relevant time for me to consider switching to the iPhone: 1) the new iPhone 3G release, 2) my wife's mobile phone was falling slowly towards its demise and my Treo 700p is on the older side, and 3) we have both fulfilled our contract so there's no penalty fee for switching.

And if you know your research on word of mouth you know that conditions of higher risk and uncertainty are fertile grounds for WOM and information-seeking behavior. This was true for me. Everyone I see who has an iPhone I've talked to and I've asked about their experiences with it. I watched the Steve Jobs keynote when the new iPhone was released, and have read a number of online ratings and reviews from lay and professional reviewers.

So, why haven't I switched?

First of all, let's pause for a second because most research on persuasion and influence focuses on change, not maintenance, of existing behaviors.(A point I learned especially well in grad school with my advisor, Dr. Steve Duck, who often noted that research on personal relationship tended to focus more on relationship change rather than sustaining or maintaining relationships).

But there's a lot of insight we can learn by focusing on why things DON'T change, just as much as why things DO change (and perhaps more so).

Why I'm tempted to switch to the iPhone:

1) Sleek interface

2) The promise (but not necessarily reality) of a seamless experience with my Mac via MobileMe

3) App Store

4) Larger screen

5) Better music, video, and photo experience

But why didn't I switch?

1) Mobile phone network. I don't like being forced to switch from Verizon to AT&T.

2) I have a lot of money invested in software and peripherals for my Treo. Dictionaries, eReader Pro, Agendus, Clock Wireless, Docs to Go, PDA Net, Volume Care, Missing Sync, and games like Scrabble and Monopoly, expansion cards, sync cables, chargers, extra battery, etc.

3) Replaceable battery. It bothers me that you can't replace the battery in the iPhone.

4) I can use my Treo to tether to my laptop to get an internet connection (using PDA Net).

5) Developers are still programming for Treo, such as the TypePad and Facebook apps, so I feel I'm still current.

6) I use iTunes but I don't like being bound to it. I like that I can load my own MP3s (I still buy old school CDs so I can rip them and use them in both iTunes and on my Treo).

7) Identity reasons. I like to think I make autonomous decisions (though I know this is often a pleasant fiction I tell myself) and am not interested in switching just because something is shiny and new. Plus, my Treo 700p still works great and there's some pride in using it until it dies (though note this is near last on my list and didn't stop me in anyway from switching from the 600 and 650, both of which I sold on eBay in order to upgrade).

8) It seemed a lot of money for both me and my wife to switch to new iPhones. We save money being on the same network so our decision is going to be a mutual one.

So my wife and I decided to stay put -- for relational reasons having to do with the fact that we are in it together, functional reasons, identity, and financial reasons. And she just ended up buying a Palm Centro.

More reason to stay put, for now!