I’ve started counting every time in conversation or going about my life I say or think, “gee, it sure would be great to have an iPhone right now.” At dinner, when I wanted to look something up on Wikipedia. In the car, when I wanted to see movie showtimes. Two days ago when I was away from my computer but wondering if someone had emailed me yet. Waiting in line, wishing I had a fun game to occupy me. All those times it would be nice to have had my iPod, except that I don’t carry it everywhere I go.
Apple is a very secretive company, and that is their right. But it’s generally straightforward to predict what new functionality is coming to Macs (faster processors, more storage, neater displays, software updates, etc.) and it isn’t a deal breaker if something doesn’t make the cut. With their new phone product its not quite so easy — will the next model support stereo bluetooth for headphones? Will it have a GPS chip for mapping? Sure it will probably have more capacity, but will it have 3G? These things are actually fairly important, especially since it is not yet clear how hard (or expensive) it will be to upgrade to a new iPhone. For instance, if I give up my Palm Treo, I also give up its built in GPS, which is something I’ve grown to rely on while in the car. I give up its EV-DO high-speed internet, which isn’t a big deal, except for those few times when its really useful to have (long train rides, for example). I give up the ability to wirelessly sync over bluetooth, and to transfer files, which I do from time to time.
All of this stuff is fine, it would just be nice to have some idea, like with most other cell phone manufacturers, what features are here, what features are coming, and what the timeline is. Apple doesn’t seem willing to deliver that sort of thing. If they just said “we plan to allow more Bluetooth functionality in a software update,” that would almost be enough. If they said “we don’t plan to offer 3g for at least a year,” that would be enough. But they won’t. So like so many people, I sit here in limbo, trying to decide if the trade-offs are worth it, just waiting to be burned when a few months from now the things I would have been happy to wait for suddenly appear, and I’m stuck with a product that I’m not entirely satisfied with.
I was pretty ready, last night, to go out and get myself an iPhone, contract and all. Then I remembered about the lack of GPS, and that gave me pause. A $400 iPod is one thing. An $800 per year contract is a second. But then I’ve got to go out and buy an TomTom ONE as well? Sheesh.