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New iPhone 3G falls short, enthusiasts say

Some of the iPhone's biggest fans – tech bloggers, mostly – have had a lot to say today about the new iPhone's shortcomings. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 3G yesterday at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Despite the much-desired addition of faster 3G network capabilities, GPS and a $200 price cut, astute iPhone watchers zeroed in on several improvements they expected but did not get, such as a better camera, multimedia messaging and greater storage capacity.

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These folks make some valid points. The iPhone 3G's 2-megapixel camera is unchanged from the previous model. Most other smart phones give you at least 3 megapixels. Others had hoped for a front-facing video camera, which would turn the iPhone into a videophone via Apple's iChat software.

Apple also failed to add the ability to cut and paste, an inexplicable omission given the relative simplicity of the function.

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Other complaints include weak Bluetooth support, the lack of a landscape-oriented keyboard, no Adobe Flash in the Safari Web browser (which renders many Web sites all but useless) and the failure to boost storage in the high-end model to 32 gigabytes.

As an Apple watcher, I was impressed by yesterday's announcements, but in the case of the iPhone I view developments from a strategic perspective, not that of a user (I don't yet own an iPhone -- gasp!).

From a strategic perspective, Apple is doing a lot of things right to increase sales and market share. Apple focused on those features it determined would sell the most iPhones: a faster network, lower prices and an abundance of cool software.

I suspect Apple spent less effort trying to please existing owners precisely because they already had bought an iPhone. Satisfying existing iPhone customers was not the priority this time around.

Instead Apple concentrated on changes aimed at increasing iPhone sales as rapidly as possible. That iPhone availability will extend to 70 countries this summer is not a coincidence.

The cynical voice inside my head also wonders if Apple held back on some improvements intentionally to save them for the next version of the iPhone. Most of those who bought the first version of the iPhone may not be ready to upgrade now, but probably will be next year when Jobs introduces iPhone 3.0.

If Apple rectifies most of the issues that irk current iPhone owners in next year's model, all will be forgiven. And Apple will sell even more iPhones.

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