The first batch of iPhone reviews hit the web late last night, revealing Apple's press strategy for this one: They seeded review units to a handful of high-profile tech journalists two weeks ago with instructions to wait until yesterday to post reviews. Oh, and to make them seem balanced but actually be glowing.
Okay, I made that last part up, but reading them all at once, one does notice a consistent refrain. I'll quote Uncle Walt's version: "Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer."
I'm not going to go through and argue their points, since not being among Jobs's anointed few (and yes, that annoys me; hello! 7 million readers here!), I have not used the thing yet. But I will say I'm a little disappointed in this round of reviews. Not because I want Apple to fail—I'm as big a fanboy as anyone and love the idea of reinventing the phone—but because I'm sick of the free pass Apple gets because they're the cool kid on the block. The flaws these reviews list are not insignificant—most notably, that it's tied exclusively for five years to the crappiest network and missing basic features like a memory card slot—but the collective attitude is "No matter, Apple will fix these things soon enough." Really? Then why are we still cracking open iPods with screwdrivers to replace the batteries four years after the battery issue was first raised? Maybe even Pogue or Mossberg taking Apple to town about the shortcomings wouldn't convince Jobs to do anything about them, but it's frustrating to see the one company that probably could make the perfect phone fall short because we—and our journalists—will settle for less.—Mike Haney