Why iPhone 3g Isn't iPhone 2

Many people have pointed out the failings of the new iPhone 3g. Features seemingly omitted for no good reason.  Features that were much anticipated, and much rumoured.  But when you look at Apple, and the situation they are currently in with regards to their phone business, it makes perfect sense.

Thinking about iPhone 3g, it seems obvious that Apple has taken an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary approach.  In essence, iPhone 3g doesn’t do anything the original iPhone doesn’t do.  The original iPhone had data, albeit slow, where iPhone 3g has, 3g.  The original iPhone had location awareness through cell triangulation and SkyHook WiFi locating; iPhone 3g ups the ante by making the location aware servces far more accurate by adding GPS.  Essentially, if a piece of software expects iPhone to do something, both “versions” can do it.  it just so happens that one will be better than another.  There’s nothing that can, or will, be released that will work on only one version.

This is a typical Apple approach for a number of reasons.  Firstly, Apple is big on simplicity.  When announcing OSX Leopard, Steve Jobs made a big deal about the single version of OSX, compared to the rather confusing Windows Vista lineup.  Imagine the confusion if there were some apps in the iPhone app store that only worked with iPhone 3g?  Amongst the average consumer, this is tantamount to having two product lines.

The other reason is product longevity. Apple have created a situation where they can update both versions of iPhone with new software that relies on these services.  They don’t have to worry about leaving certain users out in the cold when it comes to new functionality added through software.  And, if you are satisfied with the current accuracy of the positioning, and the speed of data, there’s absolutely no reason to upgrade.  The other new features will be with you shortly.

We will have to wait for a “real” second version of iPhone before many of its current shortcomings will be addressed.  What remains to be seen is how long Apple can drag us along with the current iPhone, be it 3g or not.

The way I look at the iPhone is the same way  look at an athelete preparing for the Olympics. They’ve run the preliminaries, and performed well.  But from this point on they are honing their skills.  Not doing anything different, just better.  If a 100m sprinter trains for a year, they may knock half a second off their best time, but they still won’t be able to fly (unless the tests for performance enhancing drugs get stepped back quite alot).  It’s the same with the iPhone.  Yes, it can be more precise at locating you and it can download data faster, but it still can’t make video calls through a front facing camera and it still can’t support a hardware keyboard.  So maybe we need to wait for the “Triathlon Edition“.