I’ll Show You ‘Subpar’

Remember Joe Nocera? He’s the New York Times business columnist who argued back in June that Apple was a consumer-unfriendly company because the iPhone’s battery wasn’t replaceable. Today, in a column titled “The Case of the Subpar Smartphone”, he wrote about his Palm Treo, which, uh, he utterly despises because it’s buggy, crashy, slow, and terrible for web access. (Nocera’s columns are behind the Times Select pay wall, unfortunately.)

Practically out of the box, my Treo froze on a regular basis. I could never get my Gmail account to sync with the Treo, and had to use the Web to retrieve e-mail — which required the patience of Job. It had all sorts of weird glitches: sometimes it raced around the menu while I watched helplessly; at other times, it would switch from one application to another for no reason. It would ring randomly. By June, it was shutting down completely two or three times a week, even in the middle of phone calls, and then powering back up again.

But apparently it’s a world of nothing but crappy smartphones:

It’s hard to make a good smartphone — so hard, in fact, that no one really has it right yet. BlackBerrys are great at e-mail, but the phone is barely adequate and its [sic]1 Internet abilities are not very good at all. The Motorola Q crashes almost as often as the Treo. The Apple iPhone is terrific for music and media, but lousy for e-mail and phoning.

I’ll concede that the iPhone email app could be improved; it’s probably the app for which I have the most feature requests. But it seems forced — and contrary to nearly all reviews — to describe the iPhone’s phone features as “lousy”. (Visual voicemail kicks ass.) And, worse, it’s rather conspicuous that Nocera neglects to mention the iPhone’s web browser, which kicks any other mobile device’s ass. There’s a lot to criticize about the iPhone, but overall, it’s leagues better than the Treo or Q, and better than BlackBerrys for everything other than email. iPhones are only good for music and video is the new Macs are only good for graphics and design.

Read the whole column and it seems like Nocera would love an iPhone, but that he’s not even willing to consider it. His loss.

  1. Weird that The Times copy editors didn’t catch the mismatched plural “BlackBerrys” and singular “its” in the second sentence. ↩︎