Apple may be holding back on iPhone stuff


June 12, 2008|By DAVID ZEILER

Some of the iPhone's biggest fans - tech bloggers, mostly - had a lot to say about the new iPhone's shortcomings after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled it at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Despite the much-desired addition of faster 3G network capabilities, GPS and a $200 price cut, astute iPhone watchers zeroed in on several improvements that they expected but did not get, such as a better camera, multimedia messaging and greater storage capacity.

These folks make some valid points. The iPhone 3G's two-megapixel camera is unchanged from the previous model. Most other smart phones give you at least three megapixels. Others had hoped for a front-facing video camera, which would turn the iPhone into a videophone via Apple's iChat software.

Apple also failed to add the ability to cut and paste, an inexplicable omission given the relative simplicity of the function.

Other complaints include weak Bluetooth support, the lack of a landscape-oriented keyboard, no Adobe Flash in the Safari Web browser (which renders many Web sites all but useless) and the failure to boost storage in the high-end model to 32 gigabytes.

As an Apple watcher, I was impressed by the announcements, but in the case of the iPhone I view developments from a strategic perspective, not that of a user. (I don't yet own an iPhone - gasp!)

From a strategic perspective, Apple is doing a lot of things right to increase sales and market share. Apple focused on those features that it determined would sell the most iPhones: a faster network, lower prices and an abundance of cool software.

I suspect that Apple spent less effort trying to please existing owners precisely because they already had bought an iPhone. Satisfying existing iPhone customers was not the priority this time around.

Instead, Apple concentrated on changes aimed at increasing iPhone sales as rapidly as possible.

That iPhone availability will extend to 70 countries this summer is not a coincidence.

The cynical voice inside my head also wonders if Apple held back on some improvements intentionally to save them for the next version of the iPhone. Most of those who bought the first version of the iPhone might not be ready to upgrade now but probably will be next year when Jobs introduces iPhone 3.0.

If Apple rectifies most of the issues that irk current iPhone owners in next year's model, all will be forgiven. And Apple will sell even more iPhones.

Read David Zeiler's blog at

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