By Gary Levine - When I got a pop-up message from Intuit the other day that they have jumped on the bandwagon and released a read-only version of Quickbooks Online for the iPhone, it got me thinking about cell phones and my new iPhone. It made me realize how pervasive this new productivity tool had become in the nine months since its release. It’s particularly noteworthy, since Quickbooks Online does not yet work with the Apple Safari browser. Although it’s very limited and many will ask was it really worth the effort, I think it’s a great looking view-only application and delivers a minimum amount of information into the palm of your hand. How much is in a bank account? How much do we owe that vendor? How much does this customer owe us today? A balance sheet for Dec. 31st? It’s all there.
But I wondered, are they perhaps just trying to get on the “Mac is cool” bandwagon after seeing the recent onslaught of the square guy v. the cool guy in the Apple v. PC television commercials (http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/) or have they seen the genuine utility for their user base of a “less is more” iPhone approach to online apps (http://www.apple.com/webapps/).
My own mobile, wireless experience has been that of frequently switching to the latest and greatest cell phone (sometimes I admit more than once a year) until I’ve finally settled down … with an iPhone and “it rocks.” At first, a flip phone seamed so cool compared to the original peanut shaped phones. Then, along came the Razr which was so thin, who could resist. Then, I had to debate a Blackberry versus the Treo when they were still head to head in popularity. I chose the Treo 700w, since I wanted to remain in the Windows family, but learned to regret the choice.
Then, last summer, one of my neighbors was showing me travel photos on his iPhone, “finger flipping” from one picture to another and the totally useless, but cool looking, world clock for the cities he had traveled to. The user experience was contagious, almost like bubonic plague or methamphetamines. I had to have one. BUT, I had to worry about the ATT Wireless Edge network. Everyone claimed it would be like going back to 1998 dial-up for web surfing. Well, I decided I’d just limit my browsing to Wifi access, since by 2007 carrying around a cell phone and an iPod on a bike ride or on an airplane seemed so old fashioned. Two devices? I thought if over one million iPhones had already been sold by Sept. 2007, why not be 1,000,001. Certainly, no one could claim I was the first guy to jump off the bridge.
Six months later, there are over 5 million iPhones in use. In fact, every employee at Two Step Software has been offered an iPhone just so they can experience the direction of new technology (Apple has certainly led on innovation from the original Macintosh to today’s iPod Shuffle - now that’s small). If you’re working at a SaaS model software company on America’s Technology Highway (Route 128), spitting distance from MIT, it’s somewhat obscene to still be carrying around a cell phone, a Palm pilot, an iPod, and a beeper. Get it together!
At the rate that iPhone applications are coming out, it’s becoming the ubiquitous connectivity device for the new business executive, less focused primarily on email and more focused on browsing and other online productivity applications. I use my iPhone for phone calls, emails, text messaging, listening to music, checking the weather, reading NY Times headlines, contact management, scheduling, family photos, my alarm clock, maps and directions, YouTube, secure password management, Salesforce.com, and Quickbooks.
If you too want to be the coolest over 40, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, Blogspot, Gen X, SaaS, on-demand, CFO or CPA and “connect” with those young, hipster 20-something employees slugging down Jolt and cranking out Ajax code, get an iPhone, download a Wagner symphony, and surf the Wall Street Journal Online. They’ll see you rocking out and think you’re watching Sarah Silverman F***ing Matt Damon on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnVJZkDuVBM).
Now, that’s cool.