Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Three reasons PMs need an iPhone

iPhoneRarely do I make specific product recommendations at Lead on Purpose. However, five weeks ago I purchased an iPhone 3GS (granted, I’m not an early adopter) and the experience has been phenomenal. In only a few short weeks I have come to depend on its functionality for my work in product management and product marketing. I have come up with the following three key functionalities that make the iPhone imperative to the work product managers and product-marketing managers do every day:

  1. Camera: PMs often have ‘white-board’ conversations with development and other groups where they map out requirements and other valuable information. Being able to quickly snap photos and easily put them in your deliverables is incredibly valuable.
  2. Apps: The iPhone has many applications, which are valuable for two reasons: a) Many companies are looking at producing mobile applications. The iPhone platform is the best for mobile applications. You need an iPhone to look at existing (potentially competitive) apps so you can better understand your market(s) and write effective requirements that will move your product line in that direction. b) There are many applications that will help you do your job more effectively. Several come with the iPhone and many others are available.
  3. Voice memos: Customer visits are an important aspect of the job. One of the frustrating aspects for me over the years has been trying to take adequate notes during the visits while still paying attention and asking meaningful questions. With the Voice memos feature you can record the conversation and then go back to the conversation and round out your notes. I used this feature twice today and am absolutely hooked.

I realize there are other valuable devices that can be used in place of an iPhone. I know of several PM groups that have acquired a digital camera, and voice recording devices are not uncommon. However, to have all this functionality in one device is absolutely worth it.

Bonus: Ok, there are several other not-necessarily-for-work reasons to get your iPhone:

  • The Internet access is phenomenal
  • Email synch works flawlessly (both to corp email and Gmail)
  • The text (SMS) messaging app on the iPhone is the best (i.e. easiest) I’ve used
  • The Maps app comes in handy when traveling
  • Oh, did I mention it has an iPod built in?
  • UPDATE: The iPhone has a phone! I know, I’ve had many people tell me that the phone part of an iPhone is weak at best, but for me (in my short five weeks), it’s worked well. I’ve had roughly three dropped calls out of hundreds I’ve made so far. Finding the person I want to call is much easier than any phone I’ve used, and the voicemail interface is slick.


The Product Management Perspective: The iPhone is a serious device that will help you do your job more effectively. If you get pushback from your boss, feel free to quote me or you can tell him/her to contact me directly and I’ll be happy to plead your case.