This week I finally broke down and bought an iPhone. I bought it because it just works. For the last few months, I have been rotating between Android phones, then bought an iPod Touch and a Verizon MiFi so that I could have an iPhone-like experience without actually giving in to the AT&T machine. By the time I put my phone, iPod Touch, MiFi, my wallet and my keys in my pockets as I walked out of the house, they were literally overflowing. God help me if I tried to squeeze a Metro pass or some change in there.
Sure, my Android phone plus iPod Touch plus MiFi combination had the features I needed to check in on Yelp, read Facebook posts and check my Google Voice messages, but it was a real pain in the ass to find a place for everything, not to mention the trouble that went into managing three different sets of batteries.
This electronic experience caused me to reflect on my recent post about why people move away from Phoenix to places like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. I think the reason people move from Phoenix to these cities is because, like an iPhone, they just work. In Portland you just jump on the streetcar to get wherever you want to go in the central city. Need to go further? Hop on the extensive light rail system. Restaurants, bars, and shopping are all oriented around public transit and dense neighborhoods. It just works.
In Phoenix, things are a bit more like the Android phone, iPod Touch, MiFi combo. Sure you can make it to a dense neighborhood, but that is a rare experience, and almost considered an oddity by those who aren’t committed to the city’s central core. Public transport connections outside of the single light rail line are sparse and unreliable. And don’t even get me started about the light rail segment between Phoenix and Tempe, on which I am generally asked to disembark and get on the next train at least 30% of the time.
Is this a standard Phoenix bitch session? Not at all. There is a charm to the Android ecosystem. It is complicated, it asks a lot of you and you feel clever when you master it. But, it is a hell of a lot easier to just get the phone that everyone has, that everyone has apps for and just works.
The goal of a thriving Downtown in Phoenix should be to make our town an iPhone. Get businesses, people, leaders, kids, neighbors and friends talking about how we can make living, working and shopping Downtown an enjoyable experience. And, for the love of God, let’s keep the trains running on time.