Why You Shouldn't Buy the 2.0 iPhone

Thursday May 15th 2008 by Rob Enderle
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As the next generation iPhone nears its launch, there are a number of factors to consider before taking the plunge.

Don’t get too excited: I’m not lobbying against the iPhone.

However, given that you are likely to be inundated with Apple marketing I figured it might be a good time to refresh what the problems with the device initially will be – and for folks to realize that no product is perfect for every person. The iPhone feeding frenzy that will soon kick off may have – as the first one did – people buying this version of the iPhone who probably would be still be happier with something else.

We learned a few things about the first iPhone. We learned where it worked well, we learned where it worked marginally, and we learned where it sucked. The 2.0 version of the iPhone expected to be released in the first ten days of next month is expected to be a vastly improved product. But one other thing we learned was that timing of your purchase is important because a large number of the folks who lined up for days to buy the first iPhone got, well, screwed.

Timing

Recall that with the first iPhone folks waited in line for hours only to find the phones readily available a few short days later. In addition, also recall that there were so many switching from other carriers to AT&T that the people who did the switching got overwhelmed and a lot of people had to do without their phones for extended periods of time.

It is even possible Apple will reduce prices again a couple months after the launch as they did the first time to accelerate demand into the back-to-school buying season, but this is probably unlikely.

Also realize that this 2.0 version represents a significant software change, which introduces third party software onto the platform. This is likely to cause some initial breakage as the bugs are worked out. On this last, the process that Apple has put in place to apparently assure quality goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen on a platform available to third party developers. So I think you can conclude that the breakage window will probably be relatively short.

This suggests your best bet is probably to not buy the iPhone on the initial launch weekend. Instead you might want to wait until volume catches up with demand and the facilities to switch the phone (if you are switching from another service) catch up, before buying the iPhone. I doubt you’ll need to wait a month, but it probably would be prudent, given what happened with the first generation, to at least wait a week or two while following any breakage reports to ensure your experience will go seamlessly.

With any new product there is a period of time when initial problems need to be worked out and that, particularly with a phone you depend on, any breakage is probably not worth having the device early. Reviewers will probably have the phones around the end of this month but they’ll be personally serviced by Apple to ensure positive reviews – so those initial reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.

Independent reviewers should have reviews up the day of the launch and these will likely be more reliable and give us a better sense where the new phone’s shortcomings are. (It is most likely to have battery issues, given this is a common problem with first generation 3G phones).

IT Support

Your IT department probably won’t like this version of the iPhone very much because, unlike the last version, this one will be near impossible to say no to. Still, if you are looking for your company to subsidize this phone it would be wise to wait until they actually cover it by policy which (assuming the phone works as anticipated) should eventually be the case. However, because this phone will still largely be seen as more of an entertainment than a productivity device I wouldn’t expect your firm to buy you one. And it will probably continue to be blocked in many, if not most, BlackBerry shops.

This leads to the user group that probably won’t like the new iPhone much better than the old one: people who do a lot of email or messaging on their phones and currently have, or want, phones with keyboards.

One interesting device that currently won’t work with the iPhone is the upcoming Redfly, which could revolutionize how a smart phone is used and actually allow it to truly replace a laptop. Check out this video. Currently it’s Windows Mobile 6.1 only but that could change now that Apple has opened their platform up a bit. While the iPhone’s improvements will dramatically improve web experiences and the device will interface much better with corporate email systems, it still lacks the thumb keyboard that BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users have become addicted to. And until the device addresses this, it will probably not be acceptable to most who currently are addicted to a Blackberry-like device.

Be aware, however, that it is likely that Apple will eventually address this keyboard disadvantage and that device may be worth waiting for.

Tidbits of iPhone Advice

Oh, if you have a tendency to leave your phone in public places or drop your phone a lot you won’t have it long. These things are clear targets for thieves and I can’t tell you the numbers of them I’ve seen with broken screens so, if you get one, make sure you get a protective cover like those offered from Otterbox.

It seems that mostly these are dropped when folks are rushing to pull it out of their pocket or purse or when they share them with others and the other folks drop them. Trust me when I say there are few things sadder than a brand new iPhone with a broken screen. By the way, it’s not just the iPhone; anything with a large screen is likely to be fragile.

In addition, if you like to watch a lot of videos on the device you may want to pick up the extended battery made by Mophie, called the Juice Pack. It costs $100 but can add substantially to the battery life of the phone.

Wrapping Up

You aren’t buying an MP3 player; you are buying a phone that your business and life may depend upon. Approach the decision accordingly and put in place the proper protection and you’ll be happy regardless of whether you buy the iPhone or some other high profile phone.

But do try to avoid being the very first unless you are really willing to share the initial pain that often goes with technology products when they are first brought to market.

In addition there are clear alternatives this round that might make a better choice. For instance, the new Samsung Glyde.might be better for those who are power email users. Also, the forthcoming Asus 3.5G M536, Lamborghini, and RIM Blackberry Bold phones may be worth waiting for as well.

Still, with what is expected to be a sharp price drop for the iPhone, allowing it to sell in the $200 range, you may not care. In any case, take your time, and buy smart as you’ll be living with this decision for the next two years of your phone contract.

As the first buyers of the iPhone unfortunately found out, being first has its disadvantages and by October your choices, at the very least, will be much more interesting.

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