From Cell Phone to iPhone

From Gary Cope:

Your current two-year cell phone contract is about to expire and you are thinking about dumping your brick-sized flip phone with that one button that works only occasionally. This is your opportunity to get a new cell phone, but like the Sprint CEO says in his commercials, can you believe we still call these cell phones given all that they can do?

A screen capture of Gary Cope sending Handshake 2.0 a Tweet using Twitterific, an iPhone Twitter app In April, I made the switch from a Sprint flip phone to an iPhone, which is available exclusively on the AT&T network. I love the iPhone because it makes doing just about everything easier. Setting up and checking multiple e-mail accounts is a breeze; surfing the Web is as simple as hitting the Safari button; and text messaging is quick, easy and displayed in a chat format. All of this is done by simply touching the screen. And of course, my favorite use is entertaining my 3-year-old son with the Bubble Wrap app.

Speaking of "apps." You can download thousands of applications from games (air hockey is my current favorite) and social networking (Facebook and MySpace), to fitness programs like iPump Total Fitness, which I use at the gym to track my strength training. There are also plenty of business-related apps to track your travel expenses, record voice memos and much more. You can either download the apps directly from your iPhone, or use iTunes to download them and then sync them to your iPhone.

As a former BlackBerry® user, I can honestly say that BlackBerrys, at least a couple of years ago, do not compare to the iPhone. All that being said, I'm giving serious consideration to abandoning my beloved tech toy for two reasons: 1) The AT&T service in the Roanoke and New River Valleys is not very good, and 2) I loathe the fact that the iPhone cannot send or receive video or picture messages. If someone sends me a video or picture message, I have to go to AT&T Multimedia Messaging and enter a randomly generated username and password, which more than half the time does not work.

So, while I love the iPhone, AT&T's lack of coverage in this area, coupled with Apple's and AT&T's unwillingness to improve the functionality of the iPhone, is wearing on my patience. Personally, I am seriously considering switching to Verizon's network, which all of my family and friends have, and giving the new BlackBerry Storm or LG Voyagers a shot. In a more AT&T-friendly region, the iPhone is unbeatable, but I need a reliable network first and foremost and that's enough to spur me to switch to a new carrier.

Gary Cope operates Southwest Virginia Bloggers, a centralized blog site offering a wide range of topics related to Southwest Virginia.  Cope is founder and president of CWI Media & Marketing, managing editor of, and authors a personal blog titled My Life on the Z List.

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  1. Thanks so much for allowing me to write a guest post on Handshake 2.0! It was an honor and a privilege and I look forward to future opportunities – especially if I do indeed give up the iPhone for the new BlacksBerry Storm, or another Verizon-powered gadget.

  2. I don’t know if you have to travel much, Gary, but I know that for me, as much as I’m in the car and out and about I’ve been really pleased with the coverage overall. Now, I don’t go into a lot of really rural areas, but I can’t think of anywhere in Blacksburg, Christiansburg or Radford where I have trouble. Even had service – GOOD service – in downtown Pearisburg!

    Don’t hang it up just yet. Guarantee that AT&T will continue to improve, so whatever problems you’re having will go away.

  3. I so appreciated the comprehensiveness of your post, Gary. And I’m thoughtful about your view, too, Jeremy.

    Not ready to put any gadgets on my wish list quite yet. But I have more info. than I did before!

    Thanks again!

  4. Alex Edelman says:

    On the merits of the gadget alone, I’d go for the iPhone in a heartbeat. It may not be a supercomputer, but it is nevertheless a computer that fits in the pocket.

    But I cannot justify spending $2000 on a contract that locks me to the device for two years. We’re on the cusp of a revolution in mobile computing. I think it’s insane to wed myself to a single device, provided by a single carrier with an old-world business model for two years during which the world of mobile communication will radically change.

  5. I don’t follow the mobile industry, Alex, so I’m new to this part. What changes do you foresee in that industry?

  6. Alex Edelman says:

    Phones have traditionally been a completely closed platform: you get the system with the phone, the system has a limited set of features, and the carrier provides all the phone’s connectivity.

    I think that as computers get smaller and more powerful, the whole idea of the mobile phone will change. It won’t be a phone anymore. It’ll be a computer that happens to be able to make phone calls. The iPhone is already going in that direction – it can already use WiFi and the phone network interchangeably, with the small caveat that it cannot place phone calls over WiFi.

    Google has developed Android, an open-source platform designed for phones. People will be able to write programs for the platform, not the phone, in the same way that programs written for Windows will run on both a Dell and an IBM.

    So the phone will no longer be a closed system. I think that people will begin choosing phones the same way they choose computers, and I think they’ll choose carriers for their phones the same way they choose internet service providers. I think that it will become impossible to couple the device and the service, which will lead to more competition and more innovation.

    I’m being over-optimistic. This won’t happen in two years. But it’s definitely coming.

  7. Top 10 Must-Have iPhone Apps from Fortune with disclaimer: “At presstime; subject to change hourly; strictly nonscientific” from 9/29/08 print edition:

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