Friday, 18 July 2008

The 3G iPhone and me

I've been the proud and happy owner of a first generation iPhone for a few months now (I was late to the party), but as befits my strange and materialistic personality, I wanted the new 3G version as soon as Steve announced it at the WWDC keynote earlier this year. I'm also a complete Apple fanboy (you know, one of the really annoying ones who answers every question about computers with "Get. A. Mac"), so it was double trouble.

Anybody who knows me will attest that when I want something, I WANT that thing, be it a book, magazine, new Mac or gadget, with a passion that is white hot. The object of my desire becomes the focus of my waking thoughts almost to the detriment of everything else. I have no idea why I'm this way, and most of the time I fervently wish that I wasn't. Anyway, I was the same with the first generation iPhone, and once I'd saved up enough money, I went and bought it even though I knew that the 3G was probably only a matter of months away.

Liz, my long-suffering (and lovely) wife, Sophie, my sweet five-year old, and I braved the North Circular and crowds to go to the Apple store at Brent Cross where I plunked down my debit card and walked out some five minutes later the ecstatic holder of a 2G iPhone. It was, and still is, one of the best bits of tech I have ever owned. If you had told the ten-year-old me that by the time I was in my early forties I would have something that made the communicators in Star Trek look like something out of a toy shop I would have freaked.

And with the advent of the 2.0 software update and the app store, it's just got even better. Not only is it a superb phone, internet device and iPod (let's not forget the iPod), it's also now a top notch games console, and a true computing platform. Hell, even commentators like Daring Fireball's John Gruber are saying that the iPhone OS could be Apple's main platform in years to come, and they don't sound ridiculous. Further, the beauty of it all is that everything works sweetly on the first gen iPhone. You don't even need to upgrade to the iPhone 3G to get all the good stuff.

Nevertheless, when the iPhone 3G was announced, I wanted it like a dehydrated man wants a cool glass of water. Liz, bless her, thought I was crazy. Which, it has to be said, is not a thought pattern that she's exactly alien to. We discussed it, pros and cons, and decided that, OK, I could get the new one. Well, when I said 'decided' what I mean is that I, for the first time ever, said "I'm going to buy it. No arguments.", and she agreed. Kind of. I ought to try that more often...

So when a few days later, O2 sent out a text message saying "Hey, iPhone user, want to upgrade to the 3G? Come register your interest on our website (and I quote here) and 'we'll reserve a new iPhone for you'", I registered tout de suite (twice, to make sure), and sat back waiting for the 7th of July when I would calmly upgrade online, safe in the knowledge that come the 11th, I would have a brand new shiny 2nd gen iPhone in my hands.

Of course, everyone knows how that all worked out. I spent most of the day on the 7th, beginning at around 7:30am, trying to order one of the bastard things on O2's laughable "upgrade store"* along with every other Apple-addled sod in the country. No iPhone and very high blood pressure later, I gave it up as a bad job, and decided to wait until I could just walk into any O2 store and just pick up a 16gb model.

And a week later I'm still waiting. By best estimates, I'll still be waiting this time next month. This is not that much of a problem as I do have a 1st gen iPhone, but damn it, I want one NOW.

With all that's going on in the world, even down to the fact that Liz lost her father earlier this week to a horrible form of cancer that literally eat the poor man alive (and who will be the subject of a future post), I feel really guilty for wanting something that is clearly a luxury - a luxury that 99% of the planet cannot afford.

I am surely going to hell. But hopefully with a 3G iPhone.

*O2 really, really, REALLY dropped the ball with the launch of the iPhone 3G. For a start, they implied that upgrading iPhone owners would get priority for the stock at launch, when in fact, they opened it out to everyone creating a massive free-for-all they could not cope with. Sort of like, fuck the existing customers who already paid out for their phones, let's fill our boots with new customers! Then, they either woefully underestimated demand (hah!), or they just couldn't be arsed to scale their online facilities for the rush they created. Oh, they say they upgraded their online store massively, but I don't believe it. Either they're lying or they're incompetent to previously unknown and elephantine levels. And they have the gall to blame Apple.

It's a shame, because in other ways, they're the best carrier I've ever used. I shudder to think what all this would have been like if the iPhone was on the trainwreck that is Orange.