It's the time of year when a boy's fancy turns to speculating about the new iPhone, or what I'll call JesusPhone 2: The Resurrection. Though Apple is of course tight-lipped about when it's due to hit streets, or if it even exists for that matter, anecdotal reports are trickling in from sources both solid and shady about chipsets, design, features, and so-on. General consensus is it'll grace planet Earth sometime in June, on or around the Apple developer's conference. In preparation for that momentous event, I'll guide you on a tour of hopes, dreams and predictions for JP2. And then—you guessed it—I'm going to poop all over them.
It's worth noting that one colloquial definition of intelligence is the capacity to learn from one's mistakes. By that yardstick, I—and I'll risk including many of you with me—apparently am just a few clicks north of Forrest Gump territory. Time and time again I fall prey to naïve wishful thinking when updates to my favorite products are due. I somehow have the nonsensical expectation that product X will finally have all the wonderful abilities and specs it logically should, only to be crestfallen when product X comes out and is somehow still crippled, or underpowered or missing some obvious, easy-to-implement feature. Fast forward a few months and the cycle repeats, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.
Certainly there are breakthrough/paradigm-busting/watershed moments every once in a while when a new technology or gadget truly changes the playing field, but by and large, the consumer electronics game is in the end a business and so slow, incremental product updates are, and will always be, the constant. It's the oldest game in the book: like every non-consumable product, consumer electronics are designed with obsolescence in mind. It's just "good" business—perfect, long-lasting products don't breed repeat customers. In general, corporations are in the business of making money for as long as possible, not wish-fulfillment. The iPhone, and Apple, are no different.
I'm reminded of another useful old saw (I'm full of it this week) , an oft-butchered Voltaire quote that runs something like "Perfect is the enemy of good." There is wisdom to be found in that for anyone, but I'd like to extrapolate to our consumer electronics business and reword the quote a bit: "Perfect products are the enemy of good products." This is just another way of saying, "Complete customer satisfaction is the enemy of good business."
Apple, purveyors of iPods and iPhones that don't include user-replaceable batteries, are all too aware of that. So in the following slideshow, I've detailed the missing iPhone features and specs that I feel, if built-in to JP2, would make it a complete, perfect, "finished" device for the long term. They're completely feasible, and I expect most of them will nonetheless still be absent. Click through the gallery and let me know what you think. Anyone care to wager on these? And what else am I missing? Hit the comments with your predictions and rebuttals.
I've noticed that when it comes to advancing electronics, there's often a cheap, unknown-brand version that's ahead of the curve and has all the features that the expensive ones _should_ have. For DVD players, there was a Cyberhome one, which played DivX, was region-free convertible, supported CMYK and progressive-scan, etc. back when only the expensive ones did that. And it cost around $20. I got a cheap 17" LCD (around $200) back in the '90s. And there are those cheapo Flash mp3 players that have voice recorders and FM radio, which show up under numerous brand aliases. I think these are often made by big companies as concept devices, then rebranded to distance them from the company.
Of course, the common thing between all of these products (and the reason for the rebranding) is that they stop working (hardware failure) after a few years. But how is that effectively any different from the top-of-the line, chic hardware that you're just gonna replace in the same amount of time?
The difference that puts most people off is that these cheaper devices often come in a boxier case and an unpolished user interface. The difference that matters to me is that you actually get the features that are technologically feasible at the time, instead of waiting until some huge company decides that you should be allowed to have it.
However, I can't wait to see multitouch on more devices. In winter, though, are you going to take off your gloves just to answer your phone or change the song?
How 'bout putting yourself out on a limb and making some predictions based on rumor and innuendo ? ?
Dual cameras for video conferencing ?
GPS integration with Google maps ?
Size ? Keyboard ?
There was nothing in your article that surprised anyone who has been following iPhone 3G rumors.
The Grouse seems to be in the group of people who prefers the maximum number of features, as opposed an overall quality of experience. May I suggest the Nokia N95? You can probably find all your feature list checkboxes checked with the N95. Problem is, the N95 is not remotely as seamless an experience as using the iPhone.
Personally, I much prefer the iPhone approach. I've never replaced a cellphone battery anyway, my iPhone battery life is fine, I'm not concerned about adding a memory card, I never particularly used MMS messages anyway. I don't want a fat cell phone so that its photos can be slightly less crappy than before.
Even though I'm looking forward to 3G, I'm so focused on using text-centric RSS (via Google reader), that the current iPhone bandwidth works fine for me, even when I don't have WiFi. Cut & paste is something I really do want though.
The iPhone is hands-down the best phone I've ever owned, and probably the best electronic gadget, too.
I think the Grouse is short-sighted here. It's fashionable to grouse about a very popular device, but the iPhone gets far more right than it gets wrong...