“Niceness” is the term John Gruber uses to describe what has previously been called “build quality”. It could also just be called “quality” if that word hadn’t been misappropriated by a bunch of MBAs for years to describe their vain attempts to make people care about the crap they were churning out.
The bored-by-the-iPhone tech press/industry experts surely value niceness, but they do not hold it in the same top-tier regard that Apple does.
If they do value niceness — which some of them certainly do — most of them don’t seem to express that in their writing.
Matt Drance meanwhile gets at the other thing your average technology reviewer doesn’t get.
It’s not the technology that matters — it’s the utility that the technology provides.
I kind of feel like we in the Apple-preferring world have been ranting about this checkbox mentality for several years now but people in the general tech press still don’t get what makes Apple products exciting. Like the promise of NFC, their understanding is always six months to a year away.
The iPhone has always been the intersection of niceness and utility. Each iteration more acutely defines that crossing.