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

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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.