For personal recreational use, the iPhone is king. The app store contains a stuning array of programs in it’s catalog. The quantity, variety and quality of apps makes it a joy to browse for something new. It syncs very nicely with Outlook, is fun to use and has visual voicemail. Whoever designed the browser should be kissed on the mouth — the pinching and swiping enable me to read any web page.

The overall UI is a creative and technical masterpiece. My two year old daughter can accomplish tasks with it. Without me ever teaching her how to use it (I assume she learned everything by observation), she can:

  1. Unlock the phone
  2. Use the “home” button to return to the main menu from any program I might have been using.
  3. Use a swiping gesture to navigate to a special screen I have set up just for her which contains a program she can use to draw and look at pictures.
  4. Launch the picture application and, again, use a swiping gesture to look through my entire gallery.
  5. Launch the drawing program (Drawr) and use the shaking gesture to clear the screen when she’s ready to start fresh. The program works much like a high-tech, multi color version of an Etch-a-Sketch

But what the iPhone does not do well is a problem. I expect a $300 device with a $30 per month data plan to grant me some additional freedom from my desk. Over the course of the last few years, my job has become less about programming and more about connectedness. Therefore, I do not expect to use a mobile device to compile java code. I spend 90% of each day on the phone and composing and replying to email. And email, I’m sad to say, is one area in which the the iPhone falls disappointingly short.

I can technically compose and reply to email. But the iPhone is not up to the task of making me more productive or – at the very least – getting out the way while I read and reply to the 100+ emails I receive each day. The touch screen typing is so-so for a quick email, but for longer emails which require me to exercise some creativity and tell a story… fuggetaboutit. And after two hours of emailing, my battery is a memory.

Which is why I’ve been cheating on my iPhone with the relatively old and unhip BlackBerry 8830 for the last several weeks. As an email tool, it enables and encourages greatness. I am not uncomfortable saying that the BlackBerry email program enables me to be measurably more productive and communicate more effectively over email than I would be sitting in front of a desktop computer.

More on this tomorrow.