Like thousands of New Yorkers, I spent about five hours waiting in line a year ago to buy Apple's then-new iPhone 3G. Since then, the iPhone has changed the way I work and play more than any other gadget I've ever purchased -- mostly for the better.
The biggest difference between the iPhone and previous mobile devices I've owned -- Palm Treo, Dell Axim, Palm V, various Sony Ericsson and Nokia cellphones -- is the sheer amount of time I spend using it: At least a few hours a day, Monday through Sunday.
And much of the time I spend using it is via third-party apps from Apple's iPhone App Store. (Smart move on Apple's part, that App Store.)
For example, I'm glued to Major League Baseball's At Bat app, which has helped me keep up with the Chicago Cubs from hundreds of miles away, via live radio streams, real-time stats and highlight videos, and once in a while, live-game TV streams. Nothing short of amazing -- and an early glimpse at an exciting part of the future of TV.
My iPhone has also effectively killed my Nintendo Wii. I'd never been much of a gamer until the iPhone, which allows me to play inexpensive casual games -- with good graphics -- anywhere, without carrying a separate gaming device around. The only time I've turned my Wii on since I got my iPhone was to make sure it worked after I moved apartments. In the meantime, I've landed 12,700 tiny planes in a game called "Flight Control." I've rediscovered childhood Mario-on-Game Boy joy via a game called "Rolando." And I've even gotten pretty good at Gameloft's soccer game.
And I'm reading more! Thanks to Amazon's Kindle app, which has allowed me to read two long books in my rare spare time, something I would not have been able to do otherwise, and Instapaper Pro, an app that lets me save blog posts and magazine articles from my computer's web browser to read later on my iPhone.
Meanwhile, the iPhone has also changed my social interaction -- not necessarily for the better.
Because there's always a distraction a tap away, I find myself, er, distracted more often. That's led to more than a few stern talking-tos from friends, companions and parents, wondering why I can't go an hour without doing something on the iPhone, at the dinner table, a bar, a baseball game or even on vacation.
At some point, "Product testing!" will no longer be a good excuse. But I'm trying ...
So, is all of this stuff exclusive to the iPhone? Would my life be just as "changed" with a new BlackBerry or a Palm Pre? Yes and no.
Other manufacturers are catching up -- improving their user interfaces, application platforms, and gaming experiences to catch up with Apple's. Certainly Microsoft, Google, Sony and others haven't shown us their last tries. But no one's been able to catch the iPhone yet. So for now, I'm staying put.
Slide show: See how the iPhone has changed my life.
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Dan Frommer is a senior editor at Business Insider.