iPhone 3Gs: What was Apple thinking?

I am a fan of the iPhone, for the reason that it spurred a revolution in the mobile market. Apple took apart some of the excuses Nokia and company presented to users and developers each time we clamoured for certain features or changes.

But Apple is beginning to look like it has developed the same one-track mind that the others have. Yesterday, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 3Gs to the public.

I love the new additions, such as the 3 megapixel camera, the video recording, the more powerful processor, copy-cut-paste, internet tethering, and voice control.

But this 3rd coming of the iPhone – the 3Gs – still leaves me asking, What was Apple thinking?

iphon3gs

Here are just two issues that I have with the iPhone 3Gs:

  1. Why the same shell and casing as the older model? I mean, where’s the innovation in reproducing exactly the same casing? Was cost-saving the only criteria on Apple’s board in doing this?
  2. The 3Gs still lacks proper multi-tasking. Doh!

Now, you understand that if I have just two issues with a phone, that phone is a good phone! The 3Gs is good. But Apple got two very vital things wrong.

On the one hand, Apple has offended fashion-conscious phone users, who would not be able to have people differentiate their spanking new 3Gs from the older models. Abomination.

On the other hand, Apple has offended geeky power users by leaving out multi-tasking. What smartphone does not multi-task these days?

A Palm Pre; anyone?

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Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

Categories General17 Comments

17 thoughts on “iPhone 3Gs: What was Apple thinking?”

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  2. Hmm.

    Firstly, the iphone 3Gs is physically different if you go for the white back option. I dont think cost saving was the ojective here. Look at the phone. There’s not much more you can do (design wise) to it.

    Secondly, I think its clear that multi-tasking in phones is a difficult thing to do. Windows mobile is the only mobile os that does this apart from the palm pre. Not sure of Android. And we all know how notoriously slow windows mobile can grind to when opening multiple apps. Can’t wait to test out the Pre though. Not sure when it’ll get here.

    Got your hands on one yet?

  3. @tobema I am reading your comment and telling myself, “This is a joke“, and I hope it is

    How can you say that the white back option of the iphone 3Gs makes it physically different? It is like saying that buying the white version of the Nokia E71 is buying a physically different E71.

    Then you said that Windows Mobile is the only mobile OS that does multi-tasking apart from the Palm Pre. You should have done your research well before posting this comment. Multi-tasking is available on the Symbian, Android and even the Blackberry operating systems.

  4. Just verified that the white iphone was available before now.

    As for Symbian and Android being able to multi task, I have to agree with you.

    Yeah well, most of my observations were off the mark. My bad.

    Thanks for clarifying Dayo!

  5. @Yomi – first, since I can’t remember from any past posts, but do you own an iPhone yourself?

    Some thoughts…

    – There is doing multitasking and there is doing multitasking right. Within this uber smartphone field, many companies try to allow you to do this, but few execute on it well. The Palm Pre is such an example, but reports on this say it is unstable and significantly slows down the phone. There’s a good reason for that due to the increased processing requirements and don’t forget the inevitable trade-offs of battery power for that as well. I too would like to see multi-tasking between apps, but I’d like to see it done right.

    – The form factor hasn’t changed, my guess on this is so that they could offer the (now old) 3G version for $99 and still let it use all the third-part options that the newer 3GS version will. I’d like to see some changes on this too, but it’s not a deal-killer. Having said that, I’m not keen on the smooth and overly-round back, which is why I still use my iPhone original. So, the business reason(s) make sense, and I’m not sure it’s that big of a deal quite yet.

    – The real big issues that made the iPhone users like me upset are starting to be fixed. First, the better camera, also video, MMS and cut/paste.

    – Much more offensive to me are the operator-partners who aren’t ready to roll out the new features, or who want to charge an arm and a leg for additional things like tethering.

    Lastly, Apple’s position seems to be (in the computer side as well) to not just release new features to get in a feature war with other manufacturers, but instead to create a seamless user experience where everything “just works”. So, it’s not always about feature lists, it’s also about usability.

  6. Yomi,

    The new Iphone 3Gs is nothing but an incremental upgrade rather than revolutionary leap 4ward at least in terms of hardware development.The camera in particular took little less than a baby step moving from 2 to 3.2 mp in a market where the high-end standard is now at 8 to 12mp.

    The worst of it is on the area of multitasking,i mean, imagine a smart phone that can only run one application at a time ,each time you have to go back to the main menu to launch another application instead of having one running in the back ground for you to launch another.

    This it to tell us that symbian may be down but not yet out.This is the more reason why Sonyericsson insist it will still use symbian os,windows mobile os,and android os 2.0 on its future phones.

    However, Nokia is on it way to convert its internet tablet operating system (Maemo OS-5) to be used on its next generation smart phones.

    So while we celebrate the Palm pre’s web os ultimate multitasking powers we should also reserve our conclusions.

  7. I am blown away by the iPhone 3G S but like Yomi has highlighted the absence of a new hardware design will make differentiate the 3G S from the 3G & even the iPod Touch(though this is slightly thinner) a hard task. Especially with the price drop of the 3G to $99, which will make it readily affordable. Maybe Apple is striving for an Egalitarian society!

  8. Hash,

    No; I don’t own an iPhone. Each time I spend on a touchscreen device without a QWERTY keyboard, I develop a fever within 5 minutes of using the device!

    But who knows, now that I can get an iPhone for $99, perhaps I’ll buy one just for keepsakes.

    I very much agree with you on the points you raised. Still, lots of Apple fans are a bit disappointed, and I understand their position too.

    Unfortunately, if Apple satisfied everyone, where would be the fun? Lookit, I got you to post a comment after such a long time just because of what I wish Apple had included in the 3Gs 😉

    Seriously speaking, as mentioned in an earlier article of mine, Apple takes a Bite out of Nokia/Symbian with iPhone 3.0, Apple has fixed many of those features are things that smartphone power users had lamented were absent on the iPhone.

    The 3Gs is an excellent device, no doubt, and other manufacturers have things to pick up from Apple’s style.

    Cheers!

  9. it’s a funny thing.

    the guys at cupertino got too comfy. heaven knows the phrase ‘iphone killer’ has been bandied around since the first iphone saw the light of day…and the truth is many imitators have failed to even come close.so they got cocky.

    and along came the pre. late entry (too late for apple to respond, in my opinion) and the apple is no longer the phone to ogle.

    apple pathetically fought back by releasing a phone with features WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED way back in 2007. that just wont work anymore.

    the answer to your question, Yomi, is apple weren’t thinking. they were, for the first time in a LONG time, simply responding.

  10. We all seem to quickly forget what really makes up a ‘smart’phone, its not just the hardware ,but more importantly: The Apps and the Community. That said, clearly, Apple’s in the lead in this respect, with Nokia daily diversing ways of evening up the competition.

    Android and Palm, striking from the open shadows.

  11. The apple iphone thing works with the thousands of apps being available to it and the american community that is behind it…

    The American hype is the reason why the iphone is praised beyond it’s true capability…It has brought nothing new to the industry beside the fact that it is finger oriented.

    The Symbian community has thousands of application (useful) for it. The bulk of applications available for the iphone is either free (80%) or game related. And coupled to the fact that the application are too cheap at $1. This price encourages downloads unlike the symbian world where most applications where tailored at business users and the fact that nokia never marketed it’s phones as smartphones or mini PCs until of recent.

    The iPHONE is all hype (with an american father) just like the iPOD.

  12. martinkem,

    The iPhone is not my type of device, but that won’t stop me from acknowledging its strengths. It is inaccurate and certainly wrong of you to say that the iPhone “is all hype”.

    I won’t go into a lengthy debate, but ask just one question:

    “If the iPhone is all hype, as you claim, how come every phone manufacturer (including HTC, Nokia, LG, Samsung, Palm) has been trying to replicate the iPhone since its arrival?”

    Perhaps the manufacturers you are trying to defend see too clearly that its not just all hype.

  13. David Ella,

    I presume that your answer is in response to my question to martinkem above. Correct me if I am wrong on that.

    If I am correct, however, it is an answer that ignores available facts, statistics, and the realities of consumer purchase patterns.

    The figures show that consumers are buying phones that have superior user interfaces, and that manufacturers who produce such phones are doing extremely well in sales. At the end of the day, it is about what the consumer wants – and the figures say that lots of consumers (and even developers too) want what the iPhone introduced years ago.

    But to each his own opinion, even if uninformed.

  14. Well Yomi,i was just highlighting the trend in the phone industry.One of which,in the iphone’s case, was the minimalist-style approach in hardware design and touch interface the iphone had sparked off.

    From the samsung instinct,lg arena(accused 2 b an iphone rip-off design-wise from the major tech blogs i’ve read) to the htc touch.

    Yes,the market end is the final decider of how a phone maker designs a phone.But i’l be unsettled to have a phone industry that moves in the direction largely on what the iphone guys does next. I’m sick to the stomach of the not-quite-an-iphone-beater or not-like-an-iphone phrases i come across so often.

    So,you misunderstood the direction i was coming from.Its the market trends i was highlighting. Sure by demand,the iphone(and the likes-htc touch sold for about 2 million units late 2007)sells like fried chickens and of course,the iphone interface is revolutionary.

    A phone with a semi touch screen (SE Aiao) will do for me thank you.

  15. David,

    I catch your drift.

    Still, I wonder why there is such an outrage against the iPhone in certain quarters. This is not the first time that the industry is responding that way to something that the consumer market falls in love with.

    I remember the madness that followed the Motorola Razr. The people loved it, and every phone maker tried to meet the demand for “razr-thin” devices.

    I also remember when clamshells were the vogue, especially after Samsung went crazy with that. Then we had the slider fever too.

    I don’t quite agree with you though that the phone industry moves (or will move) in the direction largely on what the iphone guys does next. The phone industry always moves in the direction of what the consumer wants. For now, the consumers want what the iPhone has.

    That is just the way it is. The consumers cry for something; the manufaturers (who are understandably in it for the consumer’s money) supply. It is simple business sense on their part. Never mind the rest of us who don’t necesarrilly have any use for such devices.

    However, the difference in this case is not just the touchscreen in the case of the iPhone. Its the superb user interface, touch or no touch. And I see that until such fluid, usable interfaces become the standard industry-wide, the iPhone comparisons will not abate.

    When it becomes the standard, people will eventually generally stop seeing the iPhone as special. But for now, it certainly still stands out.

    The good thing is that while the demand for iPhonesque features is being met, manufacturers are still churning out several models that are differentiated significantly, such that you and I have choices.

    At the end of the day, its a win-win situation for all: the general consumer market is happy; the manufacturers are happy; and those of us who make up the niche market are happy.

    Cheers.

  16. David,

    Do we now blame the iPhone for raising the bar? It is important to note that if the iPhone had not succeeded in the market, no-one would be comparing anything with it.

    Apple has simply set a trend. And the world loves to celebrate trend-setters.

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