iPhone – Exposing Poor Mac Support in Mobile Phones

I’ve made no secret of my desire to pick up a 3g iPhone when they become available.  However, it’s not necessarily the obvious draws that are driving me into the waiting arms of Apple, it’s something much simpler.  Much more basic.  Interoperability.  For the record, I hate that word.  It was used incessantly by an American coworker on a project I used to work on.

Not one phone came with OSX Software.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve used three different phones.  All of which I’ve tried to sync up with my Mac, with various degrees of success.  The worrying thing is that these are three phones of various ages from three different manufacturers.  Not one phone came with OSX software.  This, in itself, isn’t a problem.  The software that comes with phones is generally terrible.  Buggy, unfriendly and proprietary.  A bit of a nightmare all round.  I’m more than happy to use iSync, the sleek, dead simple application that comes bundled with OSX.  Unfortunately, Apple and the phone vendors aren’t really supportive of my desire to use iSync.

The first phone I tried to synchronise was my Nokia N95.  A powerhouse of a phone that hides all its functionality behind a poor user interface and sluggish response times.  I’ve used the Nokia PC Suite software on Windows before, and it’s one of the worst pieces of software I’ve ever come across.  The Map Loader is even worse and has a truly terrible usability bug.  There’s fortunately no OSX software available for the N95, so iSync it is!  Out of the box iSync will not work with the N95.  There is a plugin available though, that allows everything to hook up delightfully.  And once set up, everything runs smoothly and quickly.  The one feature missing from iSync is the ability to move files, but this can be dealt with through either bluetooth or by mounting the phone as a mass storage device.  This is, however, a laborious process and transferring music is pointless as none of my iTunes files are supported.

Sony Ericsson W880iThe next phone I pointed at my Mac was the Sony Ericsson W880i Walkman Phone.  The phone with the least usable keypad in the world.  The story was much the same as the N95, no bundled software and no out-of-the-box iSync support.  Once again, a plugin comes to the rescue, although this time it is community created and not officially endorsed.  Nevertheless, it works fine, despite some horror stories around the internets.  There’s no easy way to transfer files, again, but everything in iSync works fine.

And finally, the newest of the three.  A Samsung U600 .  For the third time Mac software was missing, as was iSync support.  This time, unfortunately, there was no way to get iSync support through a plugin, and it seems as if Samsung are using a slightly different version of Bluetooth, meaning there were troubles tying to move files.  The Samsung was certainly the big loser here, completely failing to exchange data reliably with my Mac.Samsung u600 phone

So what has all this taught us?  Well simply, I want an iPhone so I’ve got something that actually works with my Mac.  I imagine the experience I’ve had, with three leading phones from three leading manufacturers, is being played out across the world at the moment.  And it’s driving people into the arms of Apple.  I’ve seen how easy it is to link data on my Mac and my iPod, I do it a few times every week, I want everything to be that simple.

And it’s not just things like contacts and appointments.  When I sync up my iPod Touch I get not only my contacts and calendars but also my pictures, my video, my music, even my bookmarks.  The idea of being able to link all that up to my phone as well makes me giddy with excitement.  Pas experience has shown me that even if you do buy into the Windows ecosystem, you still don’t get as seak a service.

And while I’m on the subject of synchronising things like videos and music, there’s currently no point.  When I see an advert for a phone and it says “MP3 player”, I completely gloss over it.  I have never, ever used the MP3 player on my phone, and I’ve have phones that are capable of it for a number of eyes.  Even beyond that, I don’t know anyone, anywhere, that uses their phone and not an iPod to play music.  This is for a number of readons, firstly any DRM’s tracks won’t play.  Secondly, getting content onto your phone can be a real pain.  There’s no iTunes for the N95 where I can create smart playlists and get everying to move automatically.

The really puzzling thing for me is “why aren’t phone manufacturers targetting Apple owners?”.  There seems to be a fairly easy answer, “there’s no enough of them” to satisfy a curosory examination, but inf fact it’s a missed opportunity to hit the market being targetted.  People who use Macs are typically, slightly more technically savvy (or at least confiden), younger, with a higher disposable income and early adopters of technology.  Considering much of the revenue for newly released phones come from early adopters, it’s an important market to hit and keep happy.

What do you think?  Have you had similarly frustratng experiences with your Mac (or Windows box)?