My iPhone4S after 3 weeks

I had an iPhone 3GS for 2+ years and for a short time while still at AOL, I had an iPhone4.  When I turned in my AOL iPhone4 in December, I decided to grin and bear it until the next iPhone came out.  So was my game plan of waiting worth the wait?

There is no discernable difference between iPhone4 and iPhone4S on the surface, however, it only takes a few minutes of using the phone to know there have been some important improvements.

  • The connection speed is much faster.  Loading webpages, getting email, it’s all just much faster.
  • Getting my location is much faster, so loading Google Maps, Foursquare, Facebook Places, just works so much better.
  • The camera rules.  From videos to pictures, the quality of photos I am taking now with the iPhone is as good as my point and shoot.  Take a look for yourself:

Sunset with the iPhone 3

Sunrise with the iPhone4S

Here are some of the things that have not won me over yet:

  • While everyone is fawning over Siri, I have not really used it.  I think it has tremendous potential, especially once application developers can start fully taking advantage of it.
  • iCloud works, but it does not feel like a finished Apple product.  I can’t see what photos have synced via a web page and overall managing what is being synced between my 4+ devices was not as easy as it could be.
  • I had to do a full restore on my wife’s phone because every time we loaded a photo album the app would crash.  We could not delete the photos, nor could we restore from a backup.  The full restore seems to fix thing.

Moving from iPhone3 or 3GS to iPhone4S is a no brainer, but I would definitely hold off on moving from the iPhone4 to iPhone4S.  The camera, Siri and the better speed is not worth the upgrade in my opinion.

Oh the humanity…iPhone5 is actually called iPhone4S, Why does it matter?

I have read at least a dozen different blog posts in the last hour from different sources about how Apple let us down today with iPhone4S.  Please, can we stop this?  Yesterday I wrote that Apple was going to call the next version iPhone4S, and that was just fine with me.

Of course after today’s reaction, Apple should have called the phone iPhone5 or iPhone10.  The point is version numbers of a product are always blown out of proportion.  It reminds me of the book and movie The Right Stuff, when Chuck Yeager broke Scott Crossfield’s speed record of Mach 2.0 by flying at Mach 2.44, no one cared because the “media likes a nice round number.”

Enough, let’s move past this.  The new iPhone is significant and despite what the media thinks, the phone is going to be the most popular mobile device sold in the 4th quarter. Here are my favorite features from today’s announcement:

  • Siri is going to be awesome to try.  I am skeptical that any voice recognition will work well, but the demo I got of Siri previous to today was better than any other attempt.  When I have seen people use voice recognition software in the past, they change the way they talk, to sound like a robot almost to interface with the device, but Siri is definitely different.
  • The camera rules, and the apps that go with the camera make it as good or better than point and shoot cameras.  The cold/warm start times to get the camera loaded for a picture is very impressive too.
  • More power and more speed for applications to use and for users to access information across the net.  Though it was disappointing that Apple did not deliver a 4G/LTE iPhone.
  • Most people will say the find your friends feature is lame and that Foursquare, Facebook and others have this market cornered, but the truth is that I might use this feature more for knowing where my friends and family are when they are running late or where my wife is when we go to a shopping mall.
I think there is a difference between pleasing the media versus getting consumers excited.  Apple will always focus on the latter and that should be applauded.  When people walk into the Apple store and when they see their friends using the new iPhone,  they are going to want one.

The next iPhone is going to look like iPhone4 and that is a good thing

Tomorrow, Apple is going to release the next version of the iPhone, it will be called iPhone4S, and it will have the same form factor as the current iPhone.  I am not sure why this is a surprise to anyone?

If you believe Chinese iPhone case manufacturers, they think the next iPhone will have a teardrop design, but there is tons of evidence pointing to this being incorrect.  I even wonder if the images of these cases are actually for iPodTouch.  John Gruber has a great take on the teardrop skepticism.

The guts of the phone have definitely improved, faster processor, better camera, an option for 64GBs, and support for 4th Generation (4G/LTE) networks that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have been building out so quickly this summer.

One of the nicer features we are getting with the next version of iOS is the ability to take a picture with the volume button on the side of the phone.  I am pretty sure the teardrop design will render this feature useless.

So why is everyone going to freak out when Apple calls this an iPhone 4S, instead of 5?  The phone is going to be a significant step forward but people are caught up by the look and feel and the silly version number.  People think it’s not cool to have a new device if the outside is undistinguishable from the previous version.  It makes it harder to show it off as a status symbol.  Sometimes consumers drive me batty!  :-)

I think we are all missing the real point, we are getting a new phone that will run iOS5 which is a superior operating system to iOS4, and depending on your view an OS with tight integration with both Twitter and Facebook.  And who can forget about iCloud, Music Match and the magazine store front.  Tomorrow’s announcement is going to be huge, I just hope Tim Cook and others can fend off the criticism if the phone looks the same.

Haters Gonna Hate — But Google Wallet is Significant

Google announced their Google Wallet program today where your phone is now your wallet.  This is made possible thanks to Near Field Communication, NFC, which I wrote back at the beginning of the year was key to so much of what Google was up to.  The test will begin this summer and run in 4 cities, and expansion to other cities will follow.

One particular “early review” from Jay Yarow at AlleyInsider says that adoption will be slow because using a credit card is too easy.  I think that is really near-sighted and here is why:

  • Security of your credit card in public places continues to be a problem.  In the UK for example, when you pay for a meal at a restaurant, they bring the credit card reader to your table so you can watch them scan the card.
  • Not everyone has the ability to have a credit card, as rules tighten around credit, and I assume they will continue to do so, Google Wallet gives parents the ability to distribute money to their kids to use.
  • Local deal and advertising via Google Wallet is going to be huge thanks to Google Offers.  While it is not a Groupon killer, Google has a head start on getting deals out to Android/Wallet users.
  • 5 years from now will we think about carrying a wallet, or will a single device do it all?  I am guessing/hoping it will be a single device.
  • Google just sent a huge shot across Apple’s bow with this feature.  I believe Apple will make some kind of NFC announcement at WWDC in 10 days, how can they not?

So haters can hate, but Google moved the ball down the field today with this announcement and for the first time since getting an iPhone 3+ years ago, it makes me question whether it’s time to switch.

[iPhone vs. Android] Sometimes Better Does Not Beat Popular

We have two distinct camps in the Clearspring offices.  Our CEO, Hooman Radfar, and a few others believes that Android will dominate and clean up the mobile phone market, while a large contingent believes that iPhone might not lead in market share but they will continue to be the phone that leads innovation and is the bright shiny object in the sky for many.

Last Monday a study came out that showed one third of teens wanted to buy an iPhone “soon.” That number is on top of the 17% of teens that already have iPhones.

The technorati has been quick to point out how Apple may be making the exact same mistakes as it did back in the 1980s as it pertains to their iOS platform strategy.  Experts will tell you by creating a walled garden for application developers and having a singular hardware and software platform, Apple is opening the door for Android to be the operating system for every other carrier and phone.  The one problem with that theory is demand.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s the purchase of personal computer purchases was price driven.  Back then Macs routinely cost over $2000, so when  competitors started building inferior machines for half the cost, Macs lost market share and the rest is history.

The mobile space is different.  First, the phone itself is cheaper as hardware in 2011 is a commodity.  Second, consumers have more purchasing power than they did back in the 1990s, and that despite a major recession in 2008-09, consumers seem to still be buying electronics and cutting back in other areas.  Third, consumers, and especially teens and young adults, want the cool and hip product, device or technology.  Even if Android is a better platform built on a better device, people think the iPhone is a status symbol.  Much like the BWM 3 series, there are better built cars for the price in the market place, but that does not stop people from buying the car because it is a status symbol.

So where does that leave us.  Sometimes a better technology is not preordained to be the most popular or the coolest.  If the teens of America have any say, Apple is going to have a hard time replicating the failures of the late 1980s, simply because the brand is considered hip by youth.