Five technologies more pressing than the iPhone

From an IT manager's perspective, there are more important technologies than the iPhone

I'll never get it. Of any industry, save perhaps the stock market, you'd think the tech market would have become inured to hype. Yet every souped-up calculator that comes along seems to create ripples far in excess of its true weight in the universe. This week, it's the iPhone. Hey, I bought a MacBook Pro, so I'm certainly not immune to Apple's marketing (though I do blame the lucidity lapse on Parallels and Paul "Sasquatch" Venezia's overbearing Orchard fetish), but from an IT manager's perspective, you can sum up the iPhone in two words: Who cares?

The little white pill may be the biggest thing for summer beach-going entertainment since Danielle Steele, but for those of us managing a network, June 30 isn't going to be a heckuva lot different from the day before. 'Cause it's just a phone, see? An Internet surfing phone, see? With a badly executed access plan, batteries that can't live up to its feature set, and an apparent lack of APIs. Not like we haven't managed those before. And if you don't have a compelling business reason to manage one now, that's not going to change, no matter how many colorful TV commercials come out of Cupertino. Get a grip -- we have far weightier issues to worry about:

1. Keyword content blocking at the firewall. That includes anything with the words Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, or Lindsay Lohan. If we don't curb this content infestation into corporate workdays soon, broad swaths of IQ points will disappear from the American public, and there will be a spike in office AK-47 rampages.

2. Real-world use for Vista's speech-recognition technology. This needs to be harnessed for the upcoming presidential campaign coverage. That way, when the leader of the free world mispronounces nuclear, jewelry, or the names of foreign heads of state, your users' PCs can instantly translate those terms into recognizable English. This alone could save the election and dramatically reduce Prozac consumption among journalists.

3. A killer app for Second Life. The virtual meeting room idea sounded good, likewise the virtual tour of long-erased historical sites and landscapes, such as ancient Rome or Babylon. But we need more, and we need it soon. Because the driving force behind our finally realizing the Snow Crash vision simply can't be porn and rabid consumers paying 5 cents for a cup of coffee that doesn't really exist. Too cynical, even for me.

4. Patent reform and a few executions. What did Redmond say back in 2005? The company wanted to up its annual patent applications to more than 3,000? And that's just one company, just one FUD factor. This keeps up across the industry and someone's going to try and patent the process for putting on pants; then I'll have to start wearing a kilt. No one wants to see that. Reform the patent process and lop the heads off a few patent trolls. If we don't do something, the world is going to grind to a halt, a cemetery-like silence will settle over the whole country, and the only sound will be intellectual property lawyers whispering to each other at $500 an hour.

5. Invading Nigeria. Forget Iran or North Korea. The real root of world evil is Nigeria's Axis of Spam. Let's send the Marines in there. Either they'll stop 50 percent of world spam in a single go, or they'll find that pesky prince's lost fortune. Then maybe we'll each get a US$3 federal income tax break in 2008. Either way, we come out ahead.

When you started reading, users banging on your office door, clutching iPhones in their sweaty hands were your primary concern. Now you can honestly say you have five more important things to worry about. It's all about perspective.

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Oliver Rist

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