iPhone Angst

I don’t own an iPhone. For whatever reason my fanboy status had not fully kicked in early last summer when the first revision of the phone that answers the question, “what would Jesus use?” came out to a largely adoring public. The reason I didn’t get one? Three words: AT&T. Or four words. Or something like that.

While I don’t have anything against AT&T as a massive, globe-spanning mega-corporation that sucks the souls directly from the hearts of human beings and rapes the planet sideways with a giant broom handle (metaphorically speaking, of course), I didn’t like the fact that the iPhone was going to be on the EDGE network. Edge, indeed – the edge of uselessness…am I right? Having a powerhouse productivity producer like the iPhone on a piece of crap network like the EDGE network is pretty much just like having a really fast something on a really slow something else. That sentence started out with some promise, but really kind of fizzled out at the end.

But now that the baby-saving and planet-loving Apple corporation and it’s sainted leader have seen fit to announce a new version of the iPhone, I have literally been forced to sit up and take notice. Indeed, I am sitting up as I write this meaningless diatribe – it’s that important. First off, the new iPhone sports a fancy new 3G chipset, allowing it to operate at speeds neatly unthinkable in 2004 or so when 3G was all the rage. Apparently AT&T missed that particular meeting of the telecommunications overlords garden club and went forward with a network that Alexander Graham Bell has been quoted directly as describing as “poopsky.”

If that wasn’t enough to make you moisten your stamps in excitement, there’s more good news from Cupertino. The new 3G iPhone is cheaper*, has GPS**, allows 3rd party developers to make their own applications***, and boy does it catch fish****.

* Cheaper: If you’re new to AT&T or near the end of the lifespan of your existing contract, you can get an iPhone for $200 (8gb) or $300 (16gb). But the data plan costs about $10 more per month, on top of a pretty hefty voice plan. So over the course of the next couple of years the iPhone actually will cost more than a current generation iPhone with the existing data plan. Zing! So when they say “cheaper,” they actually mean, “from a certain point of view.” The AT&T/Apple cabal see themselves as an ersatz Jedi Council, with more comfortable seating but a higher rate of dropped calls.

** While the iPhone does have GPS capabilities, the SDK agreement forbids 3rd party developers from using it to create real-time GPS solutions. So it can show you where you are on a Google map, but I already know where I am. Lost. I want to know how to get where I want to be. Somewhere where I’m not lost. Many have speculated that somehow local hero Garmin may be allowed to develop a GPS solution, but frankly if the 3G iPhone can’t help me find a route home from the Apple store on the day of the launch I’m not certain it’s worth the effort.

*** People that qualify for the development plan and agree to cut in Apple for a piece of the action can develop their own applications for fun and a portion of the profit. That’s cool though, I just thought I’d point this out.

**** Fishing with an iPhone is prohibited in Colorado’s protected streams and rivers.

So what’s a fanboy to do…go get in line with all the other fanboys on release day? Wait until something better comes along? Something else entirely? I don’t know. But I do know one thing…I haven’t been this deeply personally conflicted about a personal electronics purchase since the release of the first Apple QuickTake.

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