iPhone 2.0: The Song Remains the Same

The Grouse offers his two cents on why you should be prepared for a letdown with the next iPhone release

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.

3G Data

This is a gimme, as it's a done deal that JP2 will have it, but I just want to complain once more that at least in my area, Web access and email are dead slow unless I'm using Wi-Fi. And that kills the already feeble battery. It's worth noting however that it'll still be slower than Sprint or Verizon's services, and outdated in the next couple years . . .iStockphoto

User-Replaceable Battery

Unlike 99 percent of all phones out there, the iPhone just won't get in line and play nicely. The reason? It forces most people to either pony up for an insanely high-priced $86 battery-replacement fee/penalty, or upgrade to JP2, JP3 and so-on. There's no way in hell this will change for JP2.iStockphoto

Longer Battery Life

I work in an office opposite a guy who also has an iPhone and my battery life is probably half as long as his and I use mine far less. I've heard from loads of people who get miserable battery life as well, so I'm fully expecting Apple will announce a 20 percent bump in JP2. And that will still be far below the industry standard.blogs.zdnet.com

Memory Card Slot

Besides allowing users to supplement the internal memory, the ability to read SD cards would be incredibly useful for reading and copying images from digital cameras. But forget it; it's never gonna happen—Apple loves to keep storage in check as a pricing premium, and besides they still don't even put them on their computers.

GPS

It's not a make or break for me, but GPS has quickly become a standard for smartphones and to stay competitive I'm going to guess Apple will include it in JP2. I'll say there's a 75 percent chance.NASA

Bluetooth

The Bluetooth implementation for current iPhone's is a crippled shame: no data syncing with Macs, no A2DP stereo audio, issues syncing with some cars and headsets and no tethering. I'm willing to bet there will be no change in any of those. And if not, shame on Apple.Apple

Multimedia Messaging

I got an MMS test yesterday from my wife, who is also an AT&T; customer, and as MMS is disabled on iPhones I couldn't receive it. Instead I'm given a web address, and an incomprehensible ID number and password to input the next time I'm in front of a computer—there isn't even a link to click on. How about generating a unique URL for each message and letting me click on that to view. Or better yet, how about building in the 10-year-old technology that even my Mom's free phone uses?iStockphoto

Better Camera

Admittedly the built-in camera can take pretty nice pictures in daylight, but a flash is needed for sure and let's double the megapixels, please. I'm guessing JP2 will still be flashless but will have something like a 2.1 megapixel camera.Karl Baron

Video

How exactly do you bill a product as a multimedia powerhouse, that plays back video flawlessly, has tons of storage, a speedy processor, a built-in camera, yet somehow can't record video itself? I would like to assume this'll be included, but I have a nagging feeling it won't.iStockphoto

Cut and Paste

C'mon, cut-and-paste will be with us as long as we're working with words and numbers. I'll say it's likely included in JP2 (and maybe as a software update for original iPhones) but I bet it's not usable in all apps.iStockphoto
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