by Robert Wright

OK, I finally broke down and got an iPhone. After 3.5 years, my Treo 650 was approaching eligibility for the Smithsonian, and, as an AT&T customer, I can’t easily try Sprint’s Palm Pre (the latest aspiring iPhone killer) for another five months. 

The iPhone is great in a million ways, and its functional power is unrivaled, but, speaking of function: Steve Jobs does have a tendency to occasionally subordinate functional elegance to visual elegance. 

The iPhone is really sleek, and one reason is that those buttons on the side are almost invisibly tiny. Which is also the reason you fumble awkwardly for theme.g., for the all-important volume controlwhen you’re taking a walk at night. Another source of sleekness is the phone’s thinnesswhich also makes the phone feel less secure in your hand, and presumably leaves less room for batteries. 

What’s frustrating  about all this is that Jobs is so clearly a master of functionality; unlike lapses in functional design committed by a company that shall remain nameless, Apple’s lapses seem invariably intentionalsacrifices consciously made for the sake of aesthetic coolness. And, hey, this approach seems to work commercially; apparently beauty matters. But if all consumers were like mejust about numb to aesthetics, unless liking chocolate counts as aesthetic appreciationthings would be different. What a beautiful world that would be…    

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