OK, so it’s not quite free for everybody, ya know. I’ve done dumb things before, but c’mon! It’s free to all Cedrus employees who have been with the company a year or more.
It’s simple, really. With all due to respect to Samsung’s Instinct and other iPhone wannabe recent offerings, the iPhone currently has no competition. Despite some bugs, the gap between it and the next closest competitor is so vast, it’s not even funny. Garmin’s Nuviphone and phones based on Google’s Android platform look promising. But until they ship, iPhone rules.
With Cedrus’ sharpened focus on design, does it make sense for our employees to use crapware? Hardly. No university teaches programming using pen and paper — you’ve got to cut your teeth on a real computer. Even something as basic as tying your shoes can’t be learned by listening to someone telling you how it’s done. You need to practice.
The same goes for design. You cannot develop a sharp sense of design unless you are using the absolute best examples of good design. Crapware, or even second best, will not cut it.
And the last reason to offer free iPhones is this: the best developers and the best employees are those who have little tolerance for poorly designed stuff, software included. They didn’t know it at the time (they will now!), but that was one of the primary reasons why I switched the company from Windows back to Mac OS two years ago.
It is well known that Mac users expect better designed programs from developers. Mac developers will get lambasted for minor sins that their Windows counterparts regularly get away with. The same logic applies to iPhone users: the level of expectations is high and tolerance for poorly designed mobile apps is very, very low. If you don’t believe me, just see what happened to Stevens Creek Software when they ported their TripLog/1040 app from Palm OS to iPhone.
It’s a Computing Platform
If you have Windows developers who have never used a Mac, would you ask them to start developing a Mac application overnight? Even if, hypothetically, they come up to speed on Xcode, Interface Builder, and other Mc OS tools in an instant, they will still not be able to develop a great app because they have not previously been immersed in Macs and Mac OS culture.
With the release of the iPhone SDK and App Store, iPhone is set to become much more than a mere talking tool. It’s an emerging computing platform that will compete with handheld game devices and open new opportunities. When the day comes when Cedrus needs to develop an iPhone app, our developers must be already immersed in the iPhone culture. It takes time to “get it”.
Not Just for Developers
And last but not least, everyone at Cedrus gets a free iPhone instead of just developers, for two reasons. First, to avoid creating two classes of employees. Everyone’s contribution is important. The developers write code. But without the non-developers, we might as well pack and go home.
And second, being a small company everyone’s opinion is solicited on planned UI designs. The non-developers provide a different and very valuable point of view and will often pinpoint design problems that a developer would miss. Ignore the non-developers at your company at your own risk!