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iPhone Commentary Gone Overboard..? – Part 2

In part 2 of this series, let’s continue to take a look at some of the heavier criticisms I’ve seen of the iPhone 3G…

In part 1 of this 2 part series, I started going through some of the harsher criticisms I’ve seen on the iPhone 3G. This week, I’m going to continue to go through them, giving everyone an clearer picture of what is being said about the device in general, and what I think is accurate and maybe not so accurate.

Again, while I was of the many iPhone-hypers on Monday 6/9/08, I really was pleased with the overall announcement of the new device.  While I do wish that it had been made available on the day that it was announced, life will go on.


This commentary (and it truly is commentary of commentary) is based on an article I saw on Extreme Tech titled, "The Top 10 reasons why the iPhone 3G Sucks." The iPhone was one of the most widely anticipated devices of 2007. There were rumors of it for almost 4 years, and if you look at this thing hard, the experience is going to change a whole lot.  There’s been a lot of speculation from the community and from the industry; and I don’t know how anyone can truly, TRULY pan this thing without getting a hold of it, and playing for at least a couple of weeks or so.

I’m gonna pick up with the last couple of points here and try to drive this thing home.

…Microsoft Exchange ActiveStink
Another big, fat who cares from me on this. I detest Exchange so having this as part of the 3G iPhone just doesn’t add any real attraction to me. Although I do understand that others might really appreciate it.

For me, the less Microsoft related junk that is available for the iPhone the better. Why corrupt a good product by putting junk software on it?

A Microsoft-free iPhone is far more attractive to me. But your mileage may vary. To each, his own…

Chris Gavula and I go over and over this particular point time and again. The whole world of e-mail is not about Exchange; and to an extent, he’s right. However, Microsoft has about 1/3 of the e-mail server market out there, from what I understand (…give or take…) Aside from IBM/Lotus Domino and Notes, I don’t know what else is out there comprising the remaining share; but I think that MS likely has one of the larger, single shares of the pie. That being said, having Exchange access on an iPhone is a big deal.

This means that I can have the device pull my corporate e-mail to my device and keep it up to date, in real time. I can now use my device at the office, still carry one device, and make the Apple mobile device paradigm work for me. I live and die by my PDA and my calendar (effectively the same thing to me) and right now, with the job I have (we use Domino/Notes), I’ve got to forward everything from Notes to my Exchange account, and pray that calendar entries convert correctly (they don’t always, and it’s a huge pain…) While I agree that this may be a "to each his own" kinda thing, the licensing of ActiveSync from Microsoft for the iPhone 3G was a huge win. It gives Apple a legitimate in to the corporate enterprise. It ain’t all just RIM and Windows Mobile anymore, and I think this is a significant development.

I looked at the demo on Apple’s site and it left me somewhat under whelmed. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t even talk to you! I have been considering getting a GPS as I get lost very easily. But I’ve always wanted one of those that would talk to me and say "turn here" or "slow down, turn ahead" or "stupid moron! you went past your turn!" or something like that.

But the iPhone GPS doesn’t seem able to do that. Why not? The iPhone has a speaker on it so why doesn’t the GPS talk to you and direct you step by step so you can keep your hands on the wheel and not be staring down at your iPhone? I think Apple needs to do a lot better than the GPS I saw on Apple’s site. At this point I may buy a Garmin or other separate GPS for my truck as the 3G iPhone’s GPS just seems lame to me.

GPS that doesn’t offer turn by turn directions doesn’t make sense.  Solid GPS/PND’s (personal navigation devices) have been around for a few years.  Navigation apps on your GPS tethered or enabled PDA has been around for at least 4 years that I can remember.  All of those devices and apps use turn-by-turn directions (TBTD), so, that part of the above that indicates GPS without TBTD isn’t of use is accurate, I think. However, I think what this situation needs is time. I think this will turn itself around in the coming months after the iPhone 3G is released. What was looked at here just smacks of an immature application.

GPS with TBTD is just too much of a no-brainer from my perspective. While TeleNav is an additional $10/month for unlimited directions and maps, it’s not a lot to ask when the baby is screaming his head off, your three year old is constantly telling you, "go faster daddy! We have to go fishing!" and your 14 year old is whining, "are we there yet?"  Yah… $10 bucks a month to get me out of THAT constant jam..?  Uh-huh. Sign me up…

I also think that AT&T will insist that its TeleNav product be iPhone compatible.  That does have turn by turn directions, as I found out the hard way this weekend with my Tilt.  It’s a long story, but I’m running a customized ROM, and found out the hard way, while on my weekend trip, that the GPS app that I was using wasn’t 100% compatible with that ROM.  We were stuck, lost, and TeleNav got us back on track and where we needed to go without any issues.  All it took was 1 quick phone call to Customer Service, a fast HSDPA download and install, and I was in business.

Do I really care about having 3G? No, I don’t. While Edge is slow sometimes, it’s quite usable for the time that I spend out and about. When I’m home using my iPhone I don’t care about Edge or 3G since I use my own network via WiFi and it’s very fast.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that some of you probably are thrilled that 3G is available and more power to you if it floats your boat. But I’m lukewarm about it and I just don’t see a reason enough to buy a new iPhone.

And what about AT&T’s price 3G price increase? An unlimited 3G data plan will cost $30 per month instead of the $20 per month for an Edge based plan. Is 3G worth $10 more per month? No way! Not for me it isn’t! And shame on AT&T for ripping off iPhone owners by raising the price!

One has to wonder why Steve Jobs didn’t put the smack down on AT&T for this. Or perhaps Apple doesn’t care, especially if it means more $$$ flowing into Apple’s coffers? $10 more for 3G connectivity is a rip off.

What is missing here (again) is one big thing: the 3G network in The States is largely immature. 3G coverage doesn’t extend everywhere to everyone. It’s mostly limited to areas surrounding the larger cities; and then it’s not everywhere you might think it should be. New England, for example… You would think that the East Coast would be plastered with 3G coverage. To say that it’s spotty would be kind… 3G coverage appears in blue.

East Coast 3G

For most, the addition of 3G on any phone, not just an iPhone, is not a big deal here in The States. Check out the other article I posted recently on AT&T’s total 3G coverage here in the US. The biggest perk for it is NOT increased speed; although that’s really nice and noticeable. Its actually simultaneous voice and data (you can surf the Internet, get e-mail while you are on a call, etc., as opposed to having to wait until after the call ends to surf, and have all your mail queue up and then get delivered after you end your call). that are the biggest draw for 3G here in the US; at least for right now. I don’t think everyone using any OTHER 3G phone is going to notice. On the iPhone 3G, it’s going to be a bit more noticeable, once MobileME and the rest of the infrastructure and components for The Cloud are put in place. The first time you get mail while on a call, you’re going to think it’s cool.  When it doesn’t happen, you’re going to wonder what’s wrong; and then realize you’re not in a 3G coverage area (or you dropped to EDGE during the call).

So, by now you’re thinking, yah… ok… so, now what?  Good question. At the end of the day, I think that the iPhone 3G is still going to be a huge deal this year. While Apple has lowered the production costs and (appears to have) raised the device cost, the device still seems to be shaping up to be one of the biggest devices since the introduction of the first PPC Phone, Blackberry e-mail device, etc. The impact of the device is too big for it not to be.

Apple wants this thing to be everything to everyone. Its not going to work like that, because I don’t think anyone can create a generic enough device to satisfy every possible need known (or unknown..?) to man. However, this comes kinda close, and the only problem I think it will have is at point of purchase…"What do you mean, I don’t qualify for an upgrade to this device..?! It’s gonna cost me HOW much to get one of these things?!?"

What do you think? Why don’t you join us in the discussion area and let us know what you think of all of this.

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