What if iPhone 2.0 was... 3G Exclusive?!

What if iPhone 2.0 had been 3G Exclusive?

There's been some chatter here, and in the blogsphere in general, that the iPhone 3G isn't a compelling enough upgrade for current iPhone users. 3G speed is nice, but not everyone has it in their area. GPS rocks, but Google cell and Skyhook WiFi triangulation is good enough for a lot of location services. And the flush headset jack? Already bought an adapter. So aside from some internals, like rejiggered sensor arrays, better speaker quality, and more radio-friendly plastic back, some just don't feel like the iPhone 3G brought enough new stuff!

But what if it had? What if it had brought the mother of all firmware updates?

Steve Jobs takes back the stage at WWDC 2008, thanks Scott Forstall and everyone, says how wonderful the SDK looks, goes over all the new features coming to the platform with 2.0, and then reaches into his pocket and says: "But there's one more thing..." And pulls out something just a little sleeker and blacker backed. "All those 2.0 features, all the enterprise and SDK goodness..." He holds it up and the light flashes against its more tapered sliver bezel. "Are coming EXCLUSIVELY to the new iPhone 3G!"


Crazy? Sure. It probably would have broken the internet in half and set off a mountain of protests that would have made the $200 price drop nonsense seem like a molehill. Arguments and counter-arguments would have raged, Apple fanboys would have been split, Apple-haters would have pounced...

But it would have made the iPhone 3G a much more compelling upgrade, wouldn't it?

Sure, maybe the iPhone 3G we got was somewhere between tweak and evolution on the typical Apple product roadmap, but --

"iPhone 2.0, Available Exclusively on 3G..."

-- Would anyone seriously have preferred that?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

What if iPhone 2.0 was... 3G Exclusive?!


Well even if they did there is always the pwnage tool that would allow you to load any firmware and that would have pretty much ment that anyone with an iPhone 1.0 would be cracking there iPhone in protest.

No one would prefer that. Why would you ever purchase from someone who just bent over the existing customers? It makes no sense to alienate your current customers in an attempt to get new ones. It would be a complete departure from the improvements that Apple has rolled out with upgrades leading to the current 1.1.4. Crazy.

Thank you Rene. You have written a blog entry that mirrors my exact thoughts and arguments against the people complaining that the iPhone 3G isn't enough of an upgrade.
I have said time and time again that if it was too much of an upgrade, people would be complaining about Apple worse than they are now. Nobody listens though, or they flame me for being on Jobs' junk...
Anyway. Incase you can't tell, I think it would have been a disaster of monumental proportions. I think people would have truly gotten a taste of a "real" upgrade and instead of being happy, like they currently claim they would be had it happened, they would have been outraged.

What if... will never happen. Apple is too rooted in the personal computer world. They'd only leave their hardware customers behind after there was enough product development has passed and they've moved in a new direction. An example would be sunsetting OSX for the PowerPC machines which will likely happen with Snow Leopard - 2 years after the switch was completed.
Besides, if you're trying to create a new paradigm with phones then you don't follow what the competition do - except if you want to subsidize the cost of your phones then that's OK.

whether that happened or not wouldn't have mattered. sure, millions of apple fanboys would have taken to the intertubes arguing for one side or the other but at the end of the day who cares?
ill tell you why...
it only costs $200 up front. that's it. by the end of the year owning an iphone will no longer be a status symbol. slashing the price means the iphone will be ubiquitous - not on the level of the razr but something similar. as a result, the few people who refuse to upgrade would constitute a negligible percentage of dissatisfied iphone users. from apple's perspective (or the perspective of any global corporation for that matter) the cost would be worth the benefit. in other words, apple would be making so much money off of iphone 3g users that the people complaining or refusing to upgrade wouldn't impact them fiscally.
plus, as burnsaa mentioned, somebody would develop a work-around tool for old iphone users that would give them access to the new firmware.

I really hope it is not. I'm in Costa Rica and the 3G network doesn't start until the end of 2009. In any case I understand it should work over normal GSM networks.
Art Gonzalez
Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

I think only AT&T execs would prefer that. In some ways perhaps Apple would as well (to drive upgrades), except they'd already promised Software 2.0 for the old iPhone, so there was no taking that back.
But you're absolutely right in that iPhone 3G would be a compelling upgrade if the 2.0 software was exclusive to it. Fortunately for me and 6 million other iPhone 1 owners, that is not the case.

2.0 firmware exclusive for the 3G iPhone would have been... hello, jailbreak (for the time being), goodbye iPhone and hello Google Android (when available).

Sounds like the ticket to more iPhones sales but it's not. the App Store is more of a revenue source than the actual hardware. Considering many people will be just fine with the 1st gen iPhone, the added functionality isn't really worth it to the end user who just uses the same functionality as firmware 1.0.

When automakers update a car's design, they don't go our of their way to not offend buyers of the previous model. When Sony comes out with a new tv, it doesn't go out of it's way to accommodate owners of the previous model. I could go on and on. I have never seen anything like this before!!!! Apple customers are acting like spoiled children! When you bought a computer only to see a faster computer come out the next month ... did you go back to Best Buy (or whereever) and EXPECT a rebate or a free upgrade to the new model? No! Absolutely not!
Okay. Having said that, I think it is GREAT that Apple cares about it's customers so much that it is doing this. I honestly think it is great. I just don't think that the customers should EXPECT such treatment and then BASH the company if they don't receive it. The word "spoiled" comes to mind when I think of Apple customers. Stop whining!
I bought one of the first iPhones a year ago, and when I heard about the price reduction, I didn't whine. I just thought to myself that I had paid more because I was one of the first people to get one. In every industry, when sales slow, they lower the price. It's natural economics and business. Stop treating Apple differently than other companies. Toyota just came out with a new Corolla - why don't you go to your local dealer and whine until they trade you a new one for your old one at no cost. Try it. Then type on here and let me know what happened.
As I previously stated, I own an EDGE iPhone. I want a 3G iPhone. No problem. I'm going to buy a new one when they come out and put my current phone on Ebay for like $50 or $40 or whatever I can get for it.

Do it and you're dammed, and don't do it, and you're equally dammed! You know "the best…", of anything (iPhone), for today, tomorrow and forever? You can't stem the tide of change and innovation; you, "know-it-alls", "pampered and/or spoilt" whinners. Gary Rebold is dead right.

If this happens it will only make the jailbreak comunity of iphone 2g bigger, that for me (i live in argentina and have it unlocked) is better!

@Tom: Thanks for all the great comments lately!
@Reptile: iPods = No OS upgrades eva. Mac = Constant upgrades until EOL (like PPC may be with Snow Leopard). iPhone? Thus far the latter.
@Gary: True, though Car 2008 still fits in Garage 2007, and Fridge 2008 still supports the same food you bought years ago. If they ran the way OS makers did, what a crazy world it might be!

I would have "maybe" preferred that if there were more features in the firmware update. If you've read any of my other comments, you know what features I am referring to.