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Woz to Get in Line for iPhone 3G

Woz
Steve Wozniak
Source: Al Luckow

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak said he plans to be in line tomorrow with the other expected hordes of shoppers waiting to pick up the new iPhone 3G. Wozniak spoke at the Social Networking Conference here today.

"I'll be waiting in line all night tonight to get one," he said.

Wozniak, a confirmed gadget freak, said he going for the iPhone 3G because "I always like to have the latest and greatest." That said, he doesn't view the new device as a great forward from the first iPhone.

"I don't expect a huge change. It will be very similar to the current iPhone," he said. "I polled a lot of my friends, and they aren't going to upgrade. It's just a little faster downloading of Web pages and a GPS chip thrown in, but these aren't break-the-bank items.

"I always want to be totally up on all the Apple products," he added.

But his tech interest extends well beyond Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Wozniak has been an investor and participant in a number of tech ventures following his career at Apple. Back in the '80s, he started a company that created the first universal programmable remote control device, and his interest in portable devices extends beyond Apple.

He mentioned being on the board of Danger, which was co-founded by Andy Rubin, who created the Android mobile phone software. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) acquired Android in 2005 and it is the basis of Google's software platform for mobile devices.

Phones based on Android, from the Open Handset Alliance of companies Google's recruited to support it, are due out later this year. "I love them and I love the Google people," said Wozniak. "They're taking the approach of making it very open."

However, Wozniak has his concerns about Android phones. "I expect when I see one, to have the feeling that it doesn't feel as perfect and natural as the iPhone," he said. "But I could be wrong. Google does things very right. Google and Apple are two companies that keep things simple and clean. It will be good for the world if the Google phone is a good one."

He also admitted to having very strong opinions to how things should work. "When it comes to smart phones, I tend to get turned off by every one of them," he said. "They were a little less than human when it got to the Internet level, and it didn't look like my computer. That disturbed me."

One of his main complaints is small screen size, the lack of consistency in mobile phone interfaces and having to memorize buttons. "Anytime you have to memorize, it takes away from what the computer is supposed to do for us.

"People like that kind of directness," he added. "It feels like 'I'm working with a person', not just some thing I can use. (Steve) Jobs is obviously important for getting those tiny details right, but he's hard on engineers. But you also have to give the engineers credit for coming up with some of the ideas too."

David Needle contributed to this article