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Friday, August 24, 2012

iPhone: Friend or Foe?

by Ellen Elwell
Readers of this blog know that I’m a major proponent of new technology and social media – with the exception of Facebook, of course. (See archived articles.) But when it comes to actual equipment purchases, I tend to be very thrifty. And when I do invest, I expect to get a lot - for a long time.

My reasons for not getting an iPhone (the “cons”).
I never considered anything other than an iPhone as my “smart” phone choice. However, I had lots of reasons for stalling – for years!

  • It’s expensive. No matter how you look at it, any smart phone is a very costly front-end and long-term investment! So my question was: Is there a significant Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • I’m not a “phone” person. I don’t make or get lots of calls, so why spend so much on a phone?
  • It’s difficult and time-consuming to learn. If a whole shelf at Barnes & Noble is dedicated to “how to” iPhone books, it’s pretty obvious that learning how to use it will take some time, right?
Why I finally did get an iPhone.
Ultimately, I decided to take the plunge – mostly because I’m in marketing and “mobile marketing” is growing in importance. Also, I lost my “regular” cell phone and the timing was theoretically right. And finally, I felt pressured to do it since just about everyone I know has one (the “what am I missing” principle). I promised myself, though, that if I only used the phone – not the other features and functions – I’d cancel the monthly charges and take a penalty.

After nearly a year. . .
Looking at the "cons" above, they remain the same for me. First, there's no doubt about it: the iPhone is costly. Second, I don't use it much as a phone. However, I now consider the “phone” part a very minor part of the iPhone’s value. Instead, I love its photo capabilities, twitter and email convenience, being able to save music and audio books in the “cloud” – and then access them from the many other “synced” iDevices in our household. (I’ll do another blog on the free “family sharing” capabilities iPhone offers.)

Finally, because I’m very slow, learning has been a nightmare – even worse than I expected. There is nothing “intuitive” about the device beyond placing phone calls and texting. Until I finally figured out how to connect and manipulate the iPhone through my computer and iTunes, my frustration level was indescribable. Tip: Never ever forget your iTunes password or type it in wrong because recovery is so painful!

. . . I love it!
Despite the pain, I’m happy I got and have my iPhone! Every single day, I gain more respect and passion for this powerful little engine. It provides so many unexpected, life-enhancing features (especially apps) that I’ll do a follow-up blog(s) about them. They fall into several categories: convenience, money-saving, entertainment and safety.

Summary: Investment vs. Value
I do believe that the iPhone can be worth the cost. But to be so, it cannot be viewed simply as a phone or a game/toy. Uncovering its real “assets” takes time (and more time) – which can be an even bigger investment than money. Further, learning is never-ending because software upgrades add more function (almost daily!).

As for actual “return on investment,” I’m uncertain. I’m still looking for ways that iPhone usage can actually generate business referrals or sales dollars. Now that I know how to use it, however, I’ll continue to puzzle this important piece of the equation!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Learning Apple is like having a baby!

Okay. So I'm a late adaptor of iPhone.

But it's only because I had to be "ready" to commit time to do it right. By myself. Without anyone standing over me and making me nervous. Sad to say, I am a s-l-o-w learner.

My history with technology is a sad story.
You'd never know that IBM recruited me when I finished school. I'm a great marketeer in my genetics, like my father. I write and I sell. Everything else is frills.

IBM almost didn't hire me because they tested my "machine logic" at "ZERO." That's the exact word they used. Who knew about this machine skill? But they were pretty matter-of-fact when they told me about it.

So we're looking at a machine company deciding whether to hire a hopeless non-techie to sell and market their products (me). Luckily, IBM took the plunge and we made great music for 10 years - until I started my own agency. In fact, they were my first client. Gotta love that company!

And it never got better.
Sadly, however, their "machine logic" test proved to be true. Whenever it's time for me to learn new software, equipment or even an app, I'm in misery. Without machine logic, I have to try and try and learn a little bit at a time. I make 8 mistakes to reach every small success. I quit a learning session when I get a headache and my neck says to leave it alone.

Especially in the world of "i."
The biggest challenge has been getting my iPhone, iPad and computer "synced" in the iCloud and iTunes and getting all the stuff working together. And, if you can believe it, I actually bought a scary-small iPod nano last week (don't ask!). So now I have three iDevices - plus a Kindle and Kindle Fire. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm Alice in Wonderland falling down an endless rabbit hole into a land of strangeness.

The biggest joy was when I taught myself to transfer iPhone pics to my computer, then send "good" pics to Dropbox and Photobucket and then to Shutterfly for prints which I got back in the mail. I know I'd better practice that because I'm already wondering how I even did it. Maybe it was an accidental alignment of the stars like the Big Bang!

Laughs and tears aside, I am really proud of myself. And getting onboard with the world of "i" is like having a baby: the pain is awesome...but the results are worth it! 

Did I mention that I LOVE Apple?