- 11 Jan 07, 02:35 AM
I've been fascinated to read the lively debate about Gates versus Jobs and the merits of the iPhone which followed my last two blog entries.
The impossibly shiny new device - on front pages around the world today - has inspired the Macheads and the Friends of Bill to don their weapons and charge into battle.
The case for the prosecution is that Steve Jobs' claim to have re-invented the telephone is absurd posturing.
There are already phones that do everything the iPhone promises and more, it isn't 3g , a two megapixel camera is now sub-standard and text input is going to be a struggle whatever the claims made for the revolutionary touchscreen.
One Windows fan called me to say he'd had his XDA for two years, phoning, surfing and taking picture to his heart’s delight.
"So what's new?" he sneered.
But the Macheads say it's not about the technology, stupid.
Apple has produced a thing of beauty which makes all existing phones look like stone age artefacts.
None of its individual applications may be particularly new - but they've been brought together in an exquisite package.
And it's true that within minutes of my Ten O Clock News report being broadcast, I was getting messages from friends, relatives and colleagues saying very simply: "I want one!!!"
Sorry, people (and that includes a close relative at home in West London), nothing doing.
Apple don't hand out freebies and even if they did, your correspondent would have to make his excuses and leave.
But I think that simple gut reaction tells us something about the strength of this product, a view that was reinforced at Yahoo's Last Gadget Standing contest here in Las Vegas.
Ten gadgets battling it out for the votes of a rowdy audience packed into a hall at the Convention Centre.
Amongst the contenders, two very spiffy phones made by Nokia and Samsung. But the two guys who were given four minutes each to convince the audience failed lamentably, stumbling over their scripts, and fumbling nervously with the buttons on devices they told us were easy to operate.
Both needed to go and look at the Steve Jobs keynote for a master-class on how to present a new product. And nobody in the hall at CES said "oooooh" when they saw the Nokia and Samsung devices.
What am I saying then? Yes - style does matter, perhaps more than technical substance.
Partly because phones have become fashion items - as Nokia proved in the late 90s when it started marketing new lines at a fashion show.
But also because good design is at the heart of what makes devices work for their users - and Apple's operating system has a long track record of beguiling rather than baffling computer beginners.
So I wouldn't mind betting that you'll be seeing the iPhone on Ebay in June at sky-high prices.
And now perhaps it is time for me to come out. One respondent to my blog on the contrasting styles of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs was sure I was biased. Suresh said this:
Why dont you just admit it your a M$-fanboy?
I don't think our opinions matter as much as your opinion given your position to influence on a public BBC website.
In which case, why don't you get yourself a Mac and see for yourself what all the fuss is about Mac (OS X) vs. Windows (Vista).
Unfortunately, if your just a geek, then you will lap up CES/MS because that is who they preach to
Now Suresh, take a deep breath - I'm writing this on an Apple G4 Powerbook. I've been using Apple products for 12 years - as have the rest of my family.
But I do try not to let that cloud my judgement - so if you thought I was a Microsoft munchkin, maybe I'm overcompensating.