iPhone 3GS: Revealing Changed Expectations

iphone 3gs from Flickr - <a href=
iphone 3gs from Flickr - ntr23

When Apple announced the iPhone 3GS earlier this month, along with the ooh’s and ahh’s were some hefty fees for AT&T’s bevy of current iPhone 3G users if they wanted to upgrade.  While LA Times Tech Blog recently reported that ‘AT&T Relents on iPhone 3GS upgrade pricing‘, the situation itself reveals that the iPhone has changed expectations and is waiting for things to catch up.

Trolling through some online articles, I caught many comments left by those who felt that the “irate” iPhone user was being grouchy over nothing.  Legitimately, the iPhone user signed a contract and AT&T was providing the circumstances to get out of that contract and into a new one, i.e. a costly fee.  While the above is true, it’s a perspective bounded by the understandings of a traditional cellular phone plan.  The problem fundamentally becomes that the iPhone isn’t a traditional cellular phone.  Ironically, the iPhone is only marginally seen as just a phone.

Don’t get me wrong, the phone aspect is definitely more useful than my Tap Tap Revenge 2 Application, but the reality is that the opportunity to have a decent phone and make phone calls isn’t why a customer purchases an iPhone in the first place.  It’s that desire to have a mobile online device at one’s fingertips.  With the recent roll-out of the iPhone 3.0 software, I’m reminded that no one talks excitedly about how many minutes are in their plan or how much their data component is a month.  We’re happy that we can copy-and-paste (while having better calendar synching, more applications, and landscape typing)!

In all honestly, I’m not riding from the wave of a desirous early adopter.  I have an original Edge-network phone and am swayed not to get a 3GS because of the additional monthly cost (not swayed for now anyway…).  As an electronics-minded consumer, I understand the extra cost is to change to a different internet network with better options.  In the case of 3G to 3GS, from the iPhone user’s general perspective, the desire to purchase a 3GS is simply a matter of getting a better device – like paying for a new computer.  No one demands that the person who buys a new computer has to upgrade their internet connection type too.

In a world of twitter and facebook, where people can geocode their location to upload photos on the go and in the moment, there’s still a technical divide – of old ways of thinking that don’t fall in line with changing/shifting expectations.  And there always will be this divide, but at Round 3 for the iPhone, it’s a little sad to see – even if they answered to the bedlam…eventually.

-cct