Is the iPhone really flawed? Yes and No.

For tech people, this time of year would be considered pretty heated up. It is around this time that new mobile devices are both announced and/or released. It is also nearing WWDC ’09, Apple’s most important annual conference. Besides WWDC, the other most important news of this month is the release of the Pre, the new phone from Palm that intends to compete with the iPhone. While I understand that every company is trying to create devices that match, if not exceed the iPhone, I’m actually wondering if criticisms towards Apple over the course of the iPhone’s 2-year lifespan were properly directed. I’m writing this blog to express that while the iPhone itself has a bundle of mistakes, I also wanted to emphasize that there are external factors that actually hinder the iPhone from being better than it currently is.

First, I would like to point out that: Yes; the iPhone ITSELF has problems. For example: the biggest hindrance from the iPhone reaching towards a wider audience is it’s lack of a physical keyboard. Apple themselves emphasized that a physical keyboard (especial QWERTY) in most phones have buttons too small or ergonomically disadvantageous to be very useful to it’s users. What Apple doesn’t realize is that most users cannot live without real time, physical feedback from the keys, believing that physical feedback prevents one from easily making a mistake while typing. Thus, every mobile manufacturer since has made sure that its touchscreen models have a physical keyboard, to at least have an edge over the iPhone’s design. These kinds of downsides are considered fatal to Apple, as they would end up eating their own words they have openly stated. This is why I was worry about Apple’s ideas in the mobile market, especially since they are competing against manufacturers who have had nearly two decades to refine their respective products.

While the lack of a physical keyboard is a fault on Apple’s side, a lot of other flaws were not intended by Apple. An example would be 3G. The reason why the first-generation iPhone only came with EDGE, and not 3G, was that it’s carrier AT&T, did not have a stable 3G setup to justify an immediate release. Also, AT&T is restricting which applications are allowed to use the cellular service. Which is why iTunes Mobile didn’t have it at first, and why applications like Skype and SlingMedia Player were only limited to WiFi. I do think that AT&T should consider lifting many of these cellular limitations, not only because it will attract more people to the iPhone and it’s 3rd-Party apps, but also because other mobile devices running AT&T can run applications, like SlingMedia Player, on both WiFi and cellular networks.

Another thing that the Apple cannot be blamed for is cellular service. If you remember the Samsung Instinct, most of what it marketed about was actually on wireless service, rather than out-of-box features. Things such as Faster 3G, Mobile TV and unlimited texting are all, in fact, carrier features; in this case under Sprint. Unfortunately, Samsung marketed these features as an “Instinct vs iPhone” when most of what it marketed actually spelled out “Sprint vs AT&T”. In theory, if the iPhone was under Sprint instead of AT&T, chances are all of these features, such as Mobile TV and faster, more unrestricted 3G networking, would have even made it to the first-generation iPhone. However, Apple chose AT&T over other carriers mostly because of it’s user population and “dominance” on WiFi hotspots around the US.

Just my two cents worth on the iPhone. My point is simply: if you have something to criticize out of a mobile device, know if the fault is truly under the manufacturer or with the carrier. Most viewers would think that the immediate answer would be to put the iPhone on all four carriers. While that is a great idea in theory (get whats cool about the iPhone combined with your choice of wireless plan), a lot of hardware reconfiguration is needed in the process, and it’s also not good in some areas of cellular competition.

However, you shouldn’t hold your breath just yet. After all, WWDC is coming in a few days. And when it does, we might see a sudden change in gameplans for the iPhone. iPhone OS 3.0 is coming, and rumors of a new iPhone model are hot right now. Who knows? Maybe the iPhone might no longer be AT&T exclusive in the near future, that is if Apple chooses not to renew the contract. Let’s all hope for the best, and maybe they will just be around the corner.

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~ by Ian on June 5, 2009.

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