So I asked my son, Grayson, to guess how many iPhones Apple sold this past weekend. He started out at 100,000, not recalling that Apple sold over 300,000 units of the original version during its first gala weekend last year. It took him four guesses to arrive at the correct one million figure.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. This time Apple introduced the product around the world, in a total of 21 countries, with more locations to be added in the coming weeks. It does explain, of course, why the activation system nearly stopped dead in its tracks for several hours Friday morning. However, that particular problem has evidently not been repeated, although Apple got a good drubbing from frustrated customers and the press as a result.
In fact, even the service formerly known as .Mac is now operating at a fairly good clip, after suffering endless delays and a chronic display of “maintenance” screens for several days.
As things settle down this week, it’s a sure thing that no product as revolutionary as the iPhone, or its successor, the 3G version, can be perfect. In fact, Apple has already made a silent upgrade to its firmware, and it took one of the Mac rumor sites to figure out what’s going on. And, yes, I did confirm the accuracy of the upgrade’s existence.
You see, the original version of the 2.0 software that shipped with the iPhone 3G — and made available to owners of the previous model — had a build number of 5A345. You can confirm this simply by going to your iPhone, touching Settings, choosing General and then checking About for the specifics. After I restored my phone today, the build number had changed to 5A347. Both, however, still bear the 2.0 version designation, so it’s not something that is apt to be flagged by iTunes when you check for a new version. Instead, you’ll have to undergo a full Restore process instead.
So does the updated software bring any changes with it? I’m not at all sure. Early reports indicate that the notorious yellow cast in the LCD display, said to be a move towards delivering warmer color reproduction, is gone, and the original cool white setting has been restored. Honestly, I failed to see much, if any, difference. Apple was quoted as saying the change was deliberate — so did they change it back after a single weekend?
My feeling is that the new build simply has a few bug fixes, designed to deal with issues that weren’t caught in the mad rush to meet the July 11 deadline, and that you’ll probably even see a 2.0.1 update before long to address additional issues.
One oddity I noticed — and I welcome confirmation from our long-suffering readers — is that text entry speed in Mail would sometimes slow to a crawl after a few hours. It would require a restart to set things right. But it’s too early in the game to isolate such issues and I can’t say if 5A347 changes anything, although the slow-as-molasses text anomaly has yet to return.
However, I do echo the early reports of crashing woes with AOL’s AIM instant messaging client, and also the free New York Times application. It’s been worse with the former. Sometimes just returning to my list of online buddies was sufficient to have it quit and deposit me on the Home screen.
Then again, maybe that silent firmware upgrade helped, since AIM does seem more stable in my brief tests as I was writing this article.
I also wonder whether Apple can simply push a quick update to the iPhone without having to force you to endure a full firmware upgrade. That would certainly cure small bugs without having to tether iPhone users to their computers to get the whole shebang.
On the whole, my extended face-time with the new iPhone, and particularly the 2.0 software, has been quite good — well mostly. The App Store in its early incarnation is rife with possibilities of additional features, but I’m concerned over the fact that the single application I purchased, Recorder, a dictation application, didn’t survive the Restore process, even though all my data had been backed up before it began. While I didn’t mind spending another 99 cents plus tax, this could get tiring, particularly if I had bought some of the more expensive products.
Fortunately, after purchasing Recorder for the second time, the App Store was smart enough to know that I had previously paid for a license, and offered to reinstall it free. Let’s hope that it doesn’t lose its memory.
Looking at the aftermath to the troubled iPhone and MobileMe debuts, some of the tech pundits are already complaining that Apple harmed its reputation for superior products big time as a result of this alleged catastrophe. However, all online enterprises have server issues of one sort or another from time to time. The bad memories of a slow or erratic activation process, and MobileMe’s extended downtime, will soon fade into the dark recesses of one’s memory.
If the iPhone user experience remains enjoyable and relatively trouble-free, early adopters won’t fret all that much over the Day One misadventures. Of course, I’m saying that because I had no problems updating my original iPhone with the 2.0 software and activating the 3G unit I bought from an Apple Store. On the other hand, had I been “lucky” enough to get one from the AT&T store Friday morning I, too, might have suffered from the same indignities as thousands and thousands of others. So taking three trips to make a single purchase wasn’t as crazy as I originally thought.
As you might expect, there is much more to come.