After camping out twice for iPhones, this editor-in-chief has decided to part ways with iPhone 3G. Find out why, and what Apple can do to win back my vote.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy with the performance I’ve gotten from my original iPhone. And, my iPhone 3G served its purpose. But, several factors have come together that have brought me to the point, that it’s time to move on.
With the recent launch of the second-generation iPod touch, this really became a simple choice. With the iPod touch, I can use Wi-Fi to sling internet from any Symbian or Windows Mobile phone. And, that frees up my cell phone plan… to do anything I want with it. I can watch live TV from my Slingbox, share internet with my laptop, and download podcasts wirelessly.
Did I mention that I can play all my video games thanks to emulators, tune into radio (yes, while surfing the web), chat in the background, and still have enough bandwidth to place a VoIP phone call?
Now, unlike most… I’m not going to shout and demand that Apple completely rid the walled garden, and enable these applications on all iPhones. AT&T would throw a fit, and their already-bogged-down data network could crawl to a halt. But, as Om Malik put it simply “today’s power users, are tomorrow’s everyday users.” Apple needs to provide power users such access, while building a path for traditional users to benefit from these advances… someday.
And, that’s why Apple should offer an unlocked iPhone 3G. No, the ability to swap SIMs with international providers is nice, but breaking free from the walled garden will benefit even more users. AT&T will already unlock an $80 3G phone for no charge… the value-added benefit in an unlocked iPhone would be in its ability to be jailbroken from the get-go.
Now, you may be wondering why I don’t just jailbreak my iPhone 3G. And, I’ve done that. After all, it lets me stream recorded video via Qik, play my Sega Genesis and Sega CD games (long live Sonic CD, by the way), and share internet with PdaNet. But, the answer to that is simple… it’s the economy stupid.
Quite simply, innovation on iPhone is stifled right now. Slingbox can’t get in (except over Wi-Fi, which they’re still hashing out with Apple), Adobe Flash is in approval quagmire (which is still being hashed out by Apple), and Apple’s rational for prohibiting emulators has run out of excuses (while Apple comes up with new ones). See a repeating problem here? Apple is the limiting factor on innovation, in each of these areas.
Apple held off on releasing Boot Camp for Macintosh, for nearly six months. But, when they did… their stock value shot up 10% on the news. Apple had 802.11n in hundreds of thousands of MacBooks, but was disabled until Apple could ship a complimenting router. And, every iPhone sold, as well as the current iPod touch, could do Stereo Bluetooth A2DP. See a trend here? Apple benefits from holding back on technology, it’s a powerful marketing tactic to help a company get its ducks in a row.
Sure, the impending kill-off of cheap iPhone 3G data loopholes is what ultimately did things in, but, I actually think I will pick up some utility. And, if Apple was actually engaging in “FairPlay” with apps, the GoPhone Pick Your Plan offering would be just fine.
For example, with a Touch Diamond on Sprint, you can get unlimited data for as low as $25/month (sans voice plan, thanks to the Sprint Developer Plan offering). That gives you all the benefits of Windows Mobile, while handing off web, email, and App Store duties to the iPod touch. Or, an XV6800 on Verizon Wireless can do the same, now for only $30/month, thanks to Verizon’s data rate cuts.
And yes, this has been possible all along (we were, after all, the first to cover that originally). But, again, the iPod touch 2G changed everything. Now, you can get a full-fledged PDA, and a full-fledged MID (Mobile Internet Device). No headphones for audio, actual volume controls… it’s exactly what I complained about in the first generation.
Hopefully Apple will get the message. An unlocked iPhone can actually sell for $699. AT&T doesn’t have a problem when HTC, Palm, Sony Ericsson, and Nokia do it. All Apple needs to do, is tear down this wall… somewhat. Even with just one iPhone OS device being open, developers will supply the innovation that will prove successful to Apple. What will it prove exactly? It will prove that these blocked apps are, in most cases, profitable to everyone… and that blocking them only hurts Apple.