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Lisa Napoli: And now it’s time to do our part to fuel the iPhone mania sweeping the nation. It’s almost impossible not to know from all the media frenzy that the gizmo hits the streets tomorrow. Commentator Jeff Steinbrink takes this opportunity to admire Apple’s marketing genius.

Jeff Steinbrink: Unless you’re doing hard time or live seriously off the grid, you know that the iPhone is coming, the iPhone is coming. To say that this thing has been hyped is like saying that Alberto Gonzalez has had a rough spring. What we have here is not a failure to communicate.

Or to market. The only way we might have heard more about the advent of iPhone is if it had been declared the official electronic device of Paris Hilton.

You’ve seen the ads — iPhone ordering up a batch of calamari; iPhone playing video of a bulldog on a skateboard; iPhone behaving like iPod; iPhone never forgetting which way is up. The people we know should be half so much fun.

Or half so cool. The lesson of iPhone marketing is the same old lesson: We’re not so much being sold the gizmo itself as we are the life the gizmo represents, even promises.

The implication of iPhone ads, for all their whiz-bang techiness and playful, plinkety-plink background music, is that the person who has one is somebody you’d like to know — or somebody you’d like to be.

That person, that iPerson, has friends, lots of friends, cute friends, who are instantly available for conversation or calamari at the tap of a touchscreen. He lives in a way-cool place where it makes sense to ask your cell phone to find the nearest half-dozen seafood restaurants. He has tons of music, cutting-edge to classical, arranged in neat categories and playlists, the whole collection finger-flip easy to access in much the same way that he accesses his tons of cute friends.

Ultimately, it’s this iPerson’s orderliness that iPhone is selling or that’s selling iPhone. The notion that our lives can be effortlessly streamlined so that we’re never more than a finger tap or two from whatever we’re after.

Apple’s real genius in promoting iPhone and its other products is to flatter us with the beguiling idea that this orderliness is intuitive that by nature we ourselves are sleek, graceful creatures who always know which way is up.

Who’s not eager to buy that? Pass the calamari.

Napoli: Commentator Jeff Steinbrink teaches at Franklin and Marshall College. In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli. Enjoy your day.

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