The iPhone; physical digital tool


swiss-army-trekkerWell. I finally did it. I was finally fortunate enough to buy an iPhone. I have been waiting for three things:

  1. my T-Mobile contract to expire
  2. the video camera functionality
  3. the iPhone to do all of this!

While it doesn’t (yet) do everything listed in the link in number 3, I couldn’t wait any longer. I of course had to replace my wife’s old cell. If I didn’t, it would be like living with someone who owned a pterodactyl. Not owning one has also been ironic (and generally not good) since I do consult with businesses on how they can use the iPhone to improve their business. My initial response is amazement at how physical the iPhone is.

The world is geared for those that learn by reading. I’m not one of those individuals. (Yes. Ironic again because I write this blog.) Like many, I struggled in school to learn anything using rote memorization. I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner. In other words I learn by watching others perform a task/or doing it myself. Once I have performed that task, I’ll never forget how that system/method works.

For me it’s the iPhone’s physicality that makes it an amazing tool. You can “tap” your iPhone together with another iPhone owner to share contact information. This is just a small example of what it can do.

Smule is a design firm that’s pushing the envelope as to what the iPhone’s capabilities are. They have won numerous awards and have focused on exploring the iPhone’s physical nature. One example is the Ocarina that allows you to blow into the mic to get the iPhone to make sounds. Circles on the screen then allow you to play the iPhone like a flute. Their latest incarnation, auto-tuning via the I am T-Pain app is selling like hot cakes!

The multi-touch screen is an amazing thing that allows you to drag and drop items on the screen. The Koi Pond is a great example of this functionality. The new Pizza Hut app also lets you drag and drop items onto your pizza. The success of the iphone is also pushing multi-touch applications on the PC as well. And as you know, you can zoom using just one hand in Safari.

Many interactions within games are possible on the iPhone because of the accelerometer. This gives the device a type of three dimensional awareness so when you turn the console to the left the action turns. Asphalt 4: Elite Racing by Gameloft is an excellent example.

Lastly, the location services give the device yet another physical aspect. On the way home yesterday I kept the map open and watched as a red dot tracked my location. For brick and mortar businesses, this is a great way to get people to your location when they are performing a search on their iPhone. Makes it ridiculously easy to get to point B.

These six things:

  1. awareness of other units
  2. mic “manipulation”
  3. accelerometer
  4. location services
  5. touch screen
  6. audio (voice to text someday please)

make this device a perfect a fit for kinesthetic/visual learners. Marketers are in many ways in the business of education; educating their potential clients about how their product/service can help them. They need to think of the iPhone as a unique tool in their business model that may be able to help enlighten their prospective clients. It’s not web. It can be just an application but maybe it shouldn’t.

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