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Kool-Aid, Apple Flavor

It was one year ago that I bought my first piece of Apple technology (Apple as in “Computer,” although they have since excised that word from their name): the iPhone. Three months later, the iPhone 3G landed, making us all feel like gits (although in retrospect, the AT&T mandatory data plan on the original iPhone is a much better value!).

Now, I’m gearing up to take another sip of that famous Apple Kool-Aid, because I’m almost certain that we’re just a matter of three months away from iPhone Revision 3.

There’s been no official announcement, of course. Apple, being savvy marketers if nothing else, wouldn’t dare say “There will be a new iPhone this summer,” because it would mean the immediate crash of existing iPhone sales while everyone waits for the new unit. But all signs point to a summer (possibly June) 2009 release of “iPhone 3.0.” For instance:

  • June is now recognized internally as the anniversary of Apple’s iPhone “product cycle,” as admitted by Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller. The last iPhone hardware revision was issued in June of 2008.
  • In June 2009, the first adopters of the original iPhone come off their two-year AT&T contracts.
  • This week, AT&T introduced the option to purchase “unsubsidized” iPhone 3Gs, which is seen by some as a hint that they are attempting to hasten sales of the unit’s remaining stocks.
  • Also this week, iPhone OS 3.0 beta was released to developers, similar to the way iPhone OS 2.0 was previewed in March of 2008, just before the iPhone 3G release (the iPhone 3G was not announced at the iPhone OS 2.0 preview event, either).

Speaking of iPhone OS 3.0, I followed along with the developer preview as it unfolded this past Tuesday. Suffice it to say, this is a pretty big update for the device — and it finally adds a host of features and capabilities that should have been there since day one.

OS 3.0 will be a free update for all existing first-gen and 3G iPhones, and a $10 paid upgrade for iPod Touch owners. Here’s what it includes:

  • Copy and paste support
  • MMS (picture messages) — iPhone 3G only
  • Stereo Bluetooth via A2DP — iPhone 3G & iPod Touch Rev.2 only
  • Push notification
  • 1,000 new APIs for app development
  • Support for hardware accessory connections
  • Turn-by-turn GPS directions
  • Peer-to-peer connectivity between iPhones
  • Device-wide search feature (called “Spotlight”)
  • Notes can now be synced to your computer
  • Landscape keyboard now works in all apps
  • Support for in-app purchases and subscriptions

We’re still missing video recording and Adobe Flash support, but this is a great start toward filling in the embarrassing gaps in the iPhone’s “basic functionality” portfolio. Even more interesting, though, are all of the new developer APIs and the belated arrival of push notification, which open up a lot of new ways the device can be expanded through third-party software. Since I bought my iPhone, free OS updates and a handful of applications have turned it into a vastly more versatile device. I’m looking forward to more of that!

I’m not the only one who’s excited about the possibility of a new iPhone hardware revision. My wife Apple is excited too, because as soon as the new phone lands, she gets my old one. I was doing a little research today into the total cost of our AT&T bill, assuming we had one first-gen iPhone and one to-be-announced iPhone 3.0. The pricing is a bit overwrought and a bit of a mess, and I still think the fact that AT&T stopped including 200 free SMS messages with the mandatory iPhone data plan was an extremely cheap-ass maneuver. But when I consider the value I get from my phone — and that Apple would get from having one of her own — it becomes clearly worth it to me. Especially since we weren’t paying that much less when Apple had a phone on Verizon that didn’t do a damn thing besides make calls.

The fact that I like the iPhone so much is a bit weird; after all, I’ve historically believed that Macs were too limiting and hand-holding for my taste as a computer enthusiast. And yet I’m not gravitating to Symbian or Android mobile devices; instead I went right for the iPhone. I guess I’m getting to a point in my life when having maximum tinker ability in a device just doesn’t matter anymore, because I’m busy enough that I just need stuff to work the way it’s supposed to and be done with it. Never thought I’d see it. But I did just turn 29, so I can use that as a catch-all excuse. 😉