The iPhone: My new hang-up

Jun 26, 2009 By Jenee Osterheldt

The cell phone -- a gift and a curse. It's the gadget I love to hate.

Sure I admire the BlackBerry, Palm and with all the fancy features. But the addiction to texts, picture mail and horrid headsets that comes with them? Not so much.

I had never owned a trendy phone. I usually got the model that was hot the previous year, something a little cheaper, with a tiny splash of color. But after four years of rolling with a red , in a model the stores no longer carry, things had gotten hard.

The cell froze up during text messages, blinked off when trying to answer a call, and five minutes into a conversation, it would whimper like a sick puppy. The sales guy told me the was no good on these phones. But he ordered me a replacement phone and battery anyway. It didn't help.

My cell phone had become a landline. I kept a charger on me at all times. I enjoyed being forced to unplug by the little phone that couldn't. But I had to face facts: I really needed a new phone.

So when a few of my friends started the countdown for the new iPhone model with all its cool apps, I jumped on board. Amanda was just as behind in the mobile times as me -- she had never had text messaging. And James, well he loves all things Apple. So this would be his second iPhone.

For months we waited for Apple to announce the release date of the S. And when they set it for June 19, we knew we'd be there. Then I heard people talking about making reservations, pre-ordering and getting in line super early.

Fanboys in New York and California were planning to camp out in front of the stores hours before opening time. I wasn't having it. Not for a phone.

Making a reservation for a mobile phone just made me feel ridiculous. And getting there at the crack of dawn? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Yeah, I remembered when the iPhone came out a few years ago and the crowds that couldn't wait to have it. But I figured that was all novelty.

This time would be different. Surely people aren't so obsessed with documenting their lives through their phones that I'd need a reservation.

James and Amanda filled out their forms and made claim to their phones online. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But James figured I would still be able to get one.

On Friday we got to the store late in the day, just after 4. The lines outside the store -- one for reserved, one for unreserved -- had shrunk to almost nothing.

As I stepped into line, a representative opened the doors to say they wouldn't be selling any more unreserved phones that day.

James was flabbergasted. I don't think I was shocked. I just took it in. All these years, the world has gone crazy over cell phones. In the midst of a recession, Apple managed to sell more than 1 million iPhones in just three days.

Part of me immediately wanted to cling to the sick, sad phone in my purse that would never allow me to fall down the rabbit hole of the mobile world.

But a bigger part of me wanted a bite of Apple. Cellular dependency is real, and it needs a cure.

As I'm sitting here now, admiring my shiny, new iPhone, I'm looking for an app for that.


(Contact Jenee Osterheldt at 816-234-4380 or e-mail josterheldt at
(c) 2009, The Kansas City Star.
Visit The Star Web edition on the World Wide Web at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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