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Kass: iPhone Makes Me an Apple Believer

Kass tries it, likes it, and understands all the buzz now.

This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Oct. 8 at 8:31 a.m. EDT.

I have owned various versions of the Treo for about three years (the latest the Treo 750). I have enjoyed most functionalities of it, with the exception of the Web browsing, which was slow and cumbersome.

I am not a typical first adopter, but I was unabashedly influenced by the buzz surrounding iPhone and purchased it on the opening weekend of its introduction.

To sum it up: iPhone is a game changer, and I finally


what Apple bulls have been on to for awhile. That said, with the shares up dramatically both absolutely and relatively, I am late to the party for Apple as a short-term consideration.

Currently, the stock is being driven by other products -- namely iPods and more importantly, Macs. The company is gaining considerable market share in these products.

In the

market correction I envision

TheStreet Recommends

, Apple will likely be a buy candidate based on what I know now.

But enough about the stock; let's talk about the iPhone.


  • The iPhone's display is exquisite, and its minimalist design sleek. The colors are brilliant, its graphics are sharp. The fluid navigation ability and intuitive process produces a human interface that responds beautifully to grand gestures such as one- and two-finger sweeps to scroll content and the ability to zoom out and in, respectively. The resolution is photorealistic.
  • Its trio of sensors (proximity, light and orientation) lead to a great audio and visual experience.
  • The phone's audio capability is acceptable; the keyboard took a few weeks to get accustomed to. The word completion option and integrated correction software helps the process, although you need to use two hands. It is particularly easy to navigate the contact lists. Visual voicemail creates a browsable inbox, which is very cool because it shows the sender's information, time and date.
  • The Safari Web browser, operating on WiFi, is excellent and is the phone's best feature. The display runs true to Web form and provides convenient zoom-in, zoom-out functions.
  • The world's coolest iPod is part of the iPhone: Display, interface and video and audio quality is unreal. The landscape mode (tilting horizontally), with album artwork, is especially remarkable and makes me feel like I am physically looking through my record collection. Media integration is terrific -- for example, text messages pop up during the iPod's play.
  • YouTube and other functions -- including the clock, camera, weather, stocks, Google (GOOG) - Get Report Maps, etc. (featured on the "home page") -- flow seamlessly into each other. The calendar is very useful, particularly because the screen on the iPhone is so large. The camera's photo quality is excellent, with rich colors and distinct outlines of the subject.
  • The iPhone syncs well with my computer.
  • The battery life is long: Engadget calls it "Herculean -- to do a little simple math, you could watch two hours of video, listen to eight straight hours of music and still have only drained off less than half your device's capacity." According to CNET, the iPhone "has a rated battery life of eight hours talk time, 24 hours of music playback, seven hours of video playback and six hours on Internet use.... The promised standby is 10.4 days."
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  • While the keypad is large and easily usable, it's near impossible to use with one hand. (I would have preferred the styli capability I had on my Treo.) The speaker strength of the phone is not that strong, and sometimes there's a slight hiss. Although the vibration function is quieter than with my old Treo, the iPhone lacks voice dialing or commands.
  • The frequent use of the keyboard on the face of the iPhone leads to a lot of smudging. The keyboard can't be displayed horizontally -- only vertically -- and the punctuation marks are in a secondary keyboard, which is a hassle.
  • The Edge network system is painfully slow (but still better than the Treo), and the neat Safari interface is sometimes forgotten. (Safari does not support Flash or Java.)
  • The weakest functionalities on the iPhone are the email applications: Most important, as a frequent emailer, the email deletion function is seriously flawed. The edit-minus-button-delete system is very tedious; I get hundreds of emails a day. On my Treo, I can delete multiple emails at the same time; on the iPhone, I can only delete one at a time. Moreover, there is no BCC, no "mark all/selected" as read, no empty trash option, no spell check, messages on IMAP cannot be marked as read, and there is no "retrieve all" messages option.
  • The camera has no video-recording ability.
  • There is no removable battery.
  • Including the two-year AT&T (T) - Get Report contract, the iPhone total came to $1,975 (at the time of my purchase), so it is an expensive proposition. (This is acceptable to me as I will write it off as a business expense on my taxes.)


The iPhone is a new product so it is full of contradictions. But in the main, the iPhone blends and integrates a number of experiences quite successfully. To me, it is only acceptable as a messaging device, but it boasts a great interface and design, is a tremendous portable media player, has a vivid screen and a Safari brower that hits the sweet spot for those consumers who can afford the device (already lowered from the price I paid).

After the first week, I wanted to return the product. As I grew accustomed to it over the first month, I decided to keep it, preferring to deal with some of its inadequacies, particularly in the email arena.

There will likely be a number of iterations of the iPhone product. But one can clearly see where the product is heading: It will become (as Cody Willard has suggested) an iMiniMacBookPro for the pocket -- sooner than later.

At time of publication, Kass and/or his funds were short AT&T, although holdings can change at any time.

Doug Kass is founder and president of Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc., and the general partner and investment manager of Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Short Offshore Fund, Ltd.