My iPhone story…finally

Change is hard, right?  Or maybe not.  So here’s the experiment.  I’ve been a heavy (obsessive?) Blackberry user for almost a decade.  And I’ve been fawning over the iPhone since it came out two years ago.  But I kept on convincing myself that the Blackberry won hands down for everything I needed (mostly sending and receiving email), so it didn’t matter that the  iPhone would win for everything I wanted.

A few days ago, I caved, barreled into the Apple store, and bought an iPhone.  Why?

The starting point is the story.  Apple has woven a captivating story about an uber-device that will make me more hip, more connected, and generally part of the ‘in’ crowd (never mind that they’ve sold more than 21 million so far– the story just isn’t true any more, objectively.  But it can still be true to me).  I’ve come across this iPhone story literally hundreds of times, not just in mass media, but every time I see yet another pair of white earbuds (which I used to see often) or people gazing longingly at their iPhones on NY street corners (more common now).  And even though I said ‘no thanks’ a hundred times, on the hundred and first time, I said ‘yes.’ That was Story #1.

Now on to Story #2, which started when I bought the iPhone.  This is the story I’m telling myself now that I’ve given in.  The story is, “I love this thing, never mind the typing and switching applications and the battery life, and some sync hiccups,  and, and, and…”  The long story Apple told me about how much I was going to love the iPhone has turned into a story I tell myself about how much I do love the iPhone (30 day return policy be damned).  Every time I find something frustrating about the iPhone, I explain away the cognitive dissonance in one way or another.

All a helpful reminder of how many stories are at play in every customer (donor) relationship.  The right (and the wrong) stories keep on replaying, morphing, and multiplying, and your customers spend time looking to reinforce the stories you tell – and the ones they tell themselves – at every turn.

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Communication cop-out

With the launch of the new iPhone 3Gs today, the handheld wars are in full swing.  Lots to get excited about here, and you can mark your calendars: 2009 will be the year when the blurry line between computer and cellphone communications is erased forever.

Our habits rarely evolve as quickly as our technology, so we’re still acting like different rules apply depending on whether you write your emails on a computer or a handheld.

Apple and BlackBerry both include an automatic signature for all emails you send, an istant cop-out that says “Sent from my BlackBerry handheld device” and “Sent from my iPhone.”   It makes sense for the companies — free advertising — and while I can’t remember if BlackBerrys were ever hip, I do remember the first few times I saw “sent from my iPhone” after a signature, and I must admit it conferred a halo of cool for a few weeks.

But with iPhones ubiquitous and smartphones representing one third of global handheld market share, the rules have changed.  The  “sent from my smartphone” email postscript is an anachronism, as it’s saying “give the note I’ve sent some slack because I didn’t type it on a proper keyboard.”

I think this is risky.  It gives the sender the illusion that she gets to take shortcuts instead of remembering that every communication is a chance to build rapport and connection, and every note that doesn’t do this shouldn’t be sent in the first place.  Really.

(And if you’re going to leave on the email signature, at least personalize it.    The best I’ve seen so far: “Awkwardly typed on hopelessly tiny keyboard…pls. excuse brevity and typos.” )

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