The 'I' in iPhone.

What is it, really, about the iPhone? It is an astounding success in a way no previous cell phone could come close to. Sure, there is the ‘cool’ factor. A lot of people will want what’s new just because it’s new and cool but what explains the nearly universal appeal of the iPhone? I think it has a great deal to do with that first letter in the name. The ‘i’.

When one buys an iPhone it comes loaded with Apple’s stock apps - some useful, some not. And that’s when the customization begins. Buying apps, moving them around, putting them in folders. It doesn’t take long for one’s iPhone to become a unique device. Users waste no time putting the ‘I’ into their iPhones.

You can see mine above (at least how it was last Friday, I’ve changed it a bit since then). I’ve got Usagi Yojimbo there on the lock screen. The background for my app screens is just a flat gray - I get too distracted by pictures or text behind the apps and folders. Page one is stuff I use a lot or want easily accessible in case I need them in a hurry (like whichever camera app I’m currently using). The bottom bar is filled with the apps I use most often, of course.

Page 2 (of only 2) has everything else. I like having everything on two pages so I don’t have to go swiping through pages to find things. To me it’s easier to keep everything in folders with a descriptive label rather than just arrayed across pages.

But that’s my whole point. I can make my iPhone exactly the way I want it. It works for me. I know where everything is and what apps work best for me. My wife’s iPhone looks completely different from the lock screen photo to the apps and folders. It works for her.

And that’s how, I think, the iPhone has gained its appeal among so many different people. The previous generation of hard-keyboard ‘feature’ phones, no matter how well designed, could not possibly be ideally suited to more than a few people. The iPhone, on the other hand, is infinitely customizable and therefore ideally suited for virtually everyone. The best feature of the iPhone is the fact that everyone who owns one can easily turn it into a pocket computer perfectly designed for them.

Putting the ‘I’ in the iPhone is what gives it universal appeal.

Note: If you’re interested, that gray is #4A525A. I’ve got a zip file with iPhone, iPad, and desktop resolution files. Let me know if you want it and I’ll send you the link.