When the iPhone was released I doubt that any single piece of technology had as much coverage in the history of journalism. It came to the point where even the biggest apple fanboys were sick of hearing about the iPhone.
I think we can all agree that’s exactly what the rumor mongers have done to the 3G iPhone. Since the day the iPhone was released the complaints over no 3G, the begging for 3G on the iPhone, and the rants about why people would never buy a non-3G Internet device have been constant. Well, the rumors towards the 3G iPhone are making me sick. I love my iPhone and I’m always excited about seeing new iPhone news. But the level of speculation and coverage on a device that no one outside of Apple has any real information about is starting to drive me nuts.
But when we really look at the facts, we don’t see any solid evidence that Apple will release a 3G iPhone. I’m sure the phone is coming. At this point with all the speculation and obvious interest in a 3G iPhone not release one would be public relation suicide. But no one from Apple has ever confirmed or denied the existence of a next generation iPhone.
Instead what we have are vague statements from AT&T claiming that all of their devices will be 3G by the end of the month. We have blurry photos and specs from people claiming to have handled the device. We have blanket statements from journalists like Walt Mossberg about the date of the release of the next iPhone. None of this is substantial evidence, but blogs; news sites; and Apple fanboys take these bits of information and shout them out as proof of the second coming of the Jesus phone.
The strategy of secrecy that Steve Jobs enforces with an iron fist is getting the iPhone more coverage than it ever would have had Apple simply come out six months ago and told us exactly what to expect when they release the hardware revision of the iPhone. I get caught up in the rumors and the obsessiveness in the community as much as any other Apple fan, the constant coverage of the iPhone last year is what caused me to go out on June 30 and hand $600 over to Apple with big grin on my face.
While the positive side of the constant Apple coverage only goes so far. There is also potential harm it does to the company when an over hyped product is released and falls short of expectations. The Macbook Air suffered from this exact problem. With the tiny bits of information that trickled out before Macworld Expo 2008 every Apple fan who wanted a sub-notebook had their own vision of what the Macbook Air was going to be. Only a small percent of those prospective customers walked away satisfied with the Air, and the Air ended up being one of most resented Apple product since Jobs return. Granted the Air was targeted at a very small market and is selling well, the rumors might have built up expectations too high and cost a few sales from people who had a picture of a very different product in their head.
The positive side to rumors works as a benefit to Apple with the smoke and mirror effect. The 3G iPhone is pulling so much attention that as we work towards WWDC we might see a brand new, completely unexpected product come out from Apple that will shock the entire community. Apple did this with the Time Capsule at Macworld Expo 2008, they used the Macbook Air rumors to hide the existence of the Time Capsule until Jobs demonstrated it during the keynote. The Time Capsule wasn’t an atomic bomb of a release but the 3G iPhone is getting so much focus in the media that Apple can secretly release something brand new that will take the community by complete surprise. The long awaited successor the newton? An Apple Tablet? The new version of .Mac? New Macbooks?
After complaining about Apple rumors I’m not going to start any new ones in this article. But for anyone who has used an iPhone imagine a much more powerful, 3G enabled device about 1.5X larger the the current form factor. If your mouth isn’t drooling you aren’t an Apple fan.
Whatever happens in the coming months with new product releases I’m sure many in the apple community are going to watch, drool, and go into debt while Steve Jobs works his magic on that stage if we get the ultimate 3G enabled, GPS, video conferencing, magical phone or not.