• The iPhone Report: Release Version 2.0 Before 1.0

    June 18th, 2007

    How do you keep a forthcoming consumer electronics product in the headlines for six solid months? Well, if you’re Apple, you go against the conventional wisdom and surpass expectations with properly-timed press releases.

    On Monday, for example, prospective customers of the iPhone learned that it would be a better product than they originally expected. In a press release, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the iPhone’s battery life would be much longer than originally promised. So instead of getting five hours total talk time, the iPhone would deliver eight hours instead. One figure previously undisclosed, standby time, would amount to an estimated 250 hours.

    Compared to the so-called smart phone competition, the iPhone appears better, at least based on Apple’s own figures, although none of this will be at all certain until the thing is actually available and the tech publications put it through its paces.

    In another development, fears about getting lots and lots scratches on the screen were reduced by moving to a glass surface. Other phones use plastic. But you have to wonder whether ordinary iPods will also go glass in the near future, since they have also suffered from susceptibility to screen blemishes.

    Indeed, it’s always nice to see the specs for a new product actually improve during the final stages of its development. This is almost unique with Apple. Usually features are ditched and specs grow worse from the time of the original announcement until the actual release. Ask Microsoft.

    Now our cynical readers — and I count myself as part of that list in this case — might suggest that Apple knew all along that the iPhone’s specs would magically improve. It was all part of a carefully calculated marketing plan that was put in place months ago. As you got closer to the official release date, you’d learn, first, about letting developers build their iPhone apps to open in Safari. Once the dust had settled, you’d discover that the battery would power the iPhone for a much longer period, and the screen would be made of glass.

    Of course, it’s easier to believe that these improvements were just a natural part of the development process. Maybe Apple decided to use a higher-capacity battery, or found ways to reduce power consumption. Or perhaps some combination of both.

    As to the glass screen, well consider all those potential complaints about scratches, smudges and all the rest, and you can see an incentive to use something that ought to be more resilient to such ills. The question, of course, is just how Apple is going to treat that glass to make it better withstand the daily rigors of use and abuse by all sorts of buyers.

    I mean, it’s one thing to just look at the screen. But when fingers — clean or dirty — are touching it on a daily basis, along with whatever lurks on the surface of your ears, you just know that Apple will be confronting issues that it never had to deal with before.

    It is quite likely there will be a lucrative market for third party iPhone cleaning clothes and solutions. That assumes, of course, that Apple doesn’t provide something of that sort in the shipping container.

    Now I have to tell you that I really didn’t expect to actually write much more copy about the iPhone so early in the game, but it’s just an irresistible subject. Although I’m highly doubtful about wanting to acquire one for myself right away, my wife has been asking lately whether I’ll get an iPhone for review. So maybe I should do a little rethinking here.

    Well, there’s always our 31st wedding anniversary in December.

    As far as the rest is concerned, I’m reasonably encouraged by Apple’s ongoing improvements to its unreleased gadget. Imagine how the iPhone would fare under the control of Microsoft, for example?

    First, you’d see the eight hour battery life reduced to four, a promise that email support would be added at a later date, and assurance that Wi-Fi would function with the first firmware patch, or maybe the second.

    I just wonder how many iPhones will be available on opening day, and how many will be sold. Industry analysts are so busy raising projections, that you wonder how Apple will fulfill the demand, not just at the beginning, but for the foreseeable future.

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