Apple (AAPL) answered many iPhone wish lists yesterday when it announced video recording, copy and paste, and other improvements. But there’s still stuff missing. (As there will always be.)
1) More affordable mobile Internet access. The new $99 iPhone 3G price tag will help move more units, but the iPhone’s service fee — $85 a month if you want a decent amount of text messaging — is still a turnoff to many potential buyers.
AT&T (T) was reportedly considering offering a cheaper mobile Internet plan, perhaps one that has a smaller bandwidth cap than the $30 month iPhone plan, or one that includes some text messaging, as Sprint is including for the Palm Pre. But so far, nothing.
Cheaper service plans might make less money per subscriber for AT&T, but could encourage more people to upgrade to smartphones from dumbphones. An iPhone “lite” plan might be a good idea. (Though it could also damage the user experience, so it needs to be done right.)
2) Adobe Flash. Adobe (ADBE) is scurrying to make a version of Flash that works well with the iPhone. But if Flash will ever work the same way on the iPhone as it does on a computer — a Web browser plug-in — Adobe will need significant help from Apple building it into MobileSafari. That has not been an easy process so far.
What’s the point of Flash on the iPhone? Many Web sites still use Flash for multimedia, animation, and navigation. And ad agencies would LOVE to get access to Flash to make rich media ads for the iPhone more easily. But so far, nothing. (In our experience, people in the ad industry, after a few drinks, will talk about Adobe’s incompetence in the mobile market until their lips fall off.)
Flash is possibly something that will happen someday on the iPhone, but as Apple embraces Flash’s competition — like HTTP video streaming, HTML 5, etc. — it looks less likely.
3) Video chat. Some wacky, fake Photoshopped images made the rounds last weekend showing an iPhone 3G with a front-facing camera for video chat.
This sort of thing — video iChat on a built-in camera — is a feature Apple loves to sell on its MacBooks and iMacs, and makes some sense in the mobile industry, too. But have you tried to even use AT&T’s 3G network to load a Web page recently? The bandwidth probably isn’t there for reliable two-way video chat these days.
Maybe AT&T’s upgraded 3G network will be able to handle it, or maybe Apple will introduce this feature in a 4G iPhone someday. But for now, it’s still a Photoshop dream.
4) Background app processing. Apple’s main competitors can all run apps in the background, so you can pop into your email app and keep your IM app open. Or listen to Pandora Radio while you’re reading a Web page.
We’ve heard that this is something Apple is working on, but it’s apparently not ready yet for iPhone 3.0. It might be something they get to in an update, or perhaps something they’ll save for iPhone 4.0.
The argument in favour is that it’s a useful feature that Apple’s competitors are using as a marketing advantage. The argument against is that it uses up processor cycles and battery life — potentially to the detriment of your overall user experience. (Thanks, Sachin.)
Photo: Fake iPhone with video chat on MacRumors