A little while ago, I looked at my bank statement and saw a £570 entry from Vodafone.
I almost jumped out of my skin. It’s normally a few hundred pounds.
“I’ll need to phone them!” I thought to myself, cursing like a trooper. “How did they end up billing me that much?” I wondered.
A few minutes later I realised that this was the cost of my wife’s iPhone 4.
I hadn’t bothered with a contract. We were still paying for the contract for the iPhone 3GS she’d dropped in the bath.
The next morning we took the pram out to the Vodafone store and I spunked half a grand on the new iPhone 4. The two guys behind the counter were totally relaxed. Apparently a lot of people in the area have been walking in and dropping the cash for the device rather than bothering with a contract.
This evening I finally realised the value of that £570 spend. In a single instant, I’ve set my wallet to wide-open status for Apple.
Now, to be fair, my wallet was already highly familiar with Apple. I’ve spent tens of thousands with them over the past few years. But it’s even more open. I’m ready to buy a bucketload of stuff. iPads? Yes. iPhones? Yup? More Apple stuff? Youbetcha.
My wife and I have been ‘Facetiming’ since she got her iPhone 4. I first used it properly when I was in Miami last year for the MEF Americas 2010 conference. The hotel had blanket WiFi so it was a no-brainer. The experience was just like Star Trek.
I’ve done plenty of video calling before (Our now famous ‘3G video calling demonstration video‘ filmed back in October 2008 has had almost 12,000 views) but Apple branded the experience and made it simply wonderful.
The event that swung it for me? This evening my wife called — on a normal phone call. I heard Archie, our 8-month son calling in the background. He was in the middle of eating some banana and my wife was calling to check up on my day.
I suggested we do a Facetime.
In a moment I was staring at little Archie munching happily on a banana.
“Genius, this Facetime,” I thought to myself as I cooed hello to him.
It’s been wonderful — as I’m sure other parents who’ve done this will agree — to see my child ‘in the flesh’ via Facetime when I’m hundreds or thousands of miles away. It affords me a degree of sanity, of calm. It’s also lovely to see my wife.
Of course across the months, little Archie has been either oblivious or slightly confused by the whole concept. More recently when I’ve been in the States, he’s set about grabbing the phone during the call. Sometimes if I call his name, he’ll stare around briefly before setting about grabbing the shiny bright thing my wife is holding. He’s not been able to parse the moving pictures on the screen with the reality of a human being — or even ‘daddy’. That requires a certain level of comprehension that is still developing.
This evening though, he noticed me.
He saw me, I smiled, he let out a squeal of delight that — if you’re of the forgiving kind, sounded very much like ‘daaaa-daaaaaaaaaaaah’. Not ‘dadda’ but more ‘ah hahhhh’. With a ‘d’ at the start.
I proved recognition conclusively by slowly edging out of the picture. As I did, he followed me. I popped speedily back into the picture (fast, but allowing for the latency on the other end) and then did a ‘PEEEK A BOOOO‘.
He roared with laughter.
I hid from the phone again.
My wife giggled as Archie tried peering behind the iPhone to see where I’d gone.
I was met with yet another roar of delight when I appeared again.
That, Mr Jobs, is why you can have £570 quid whenever you need it.
Send us 2x iPhone 5s when you can. You can bank on the cash, Steve.
And while you’re about it, I need a few iPads and an array of upgrades for the grandparents too.
Everybody else has tried to deliver this in the past. I was one of the first with a Nokia phone with a front-facing camera that did precisely this. But it never worked internationally and it rarely worked between national networks. And the idiot operators were charging me 50p a minute for it.
It took Apple to implement it beautifully.
I know, of course, that there are other market players — Tango, for instance, are going great guns offering a similar Facetime experience on both Apple and Android platforms. (Good work chaps)
But kudos Apple.
Being able to connect with my child from Paris in a seemless manner?
Utterly, utterly priceless.