How Apple screwed a major chunk of its customers

I was a little slow on the iPhone uptake, not jumping on the bandwagon until late 2009 after the 3GS was released. It so happened that the Best Buy I visited was out of the 3GS model, so I opted for the cheaper (but still shiny) iPhone 3G.

I was more than impressed with my iPhone for a long time. Everything peers had said about its usability was true. It was incomparable to the Windows smart phones I had been using for years prior. Safari had introduced a usable browser to a mobile environment, and growing application development for the iOS platform made the iPhone experience that much more enjoyable.

Fast forward a year, and the iPhone 4 has been released. Still happy with my ‘old-school’ 3G, I elect not to spend the several hundred dollars to upgrade. Apple is still releasing updates for my phone, and its still a radical departure from most Blackberry and Android phones I’ve sampled. I should have no reason to get a new phone.

Until-

I finally catch up with the Apple software updates and switch my phone over to iOS 4. Huge mistake. My phone’s speed slows to a halt. Maps become unusable. Applications crash left and right, and my smart phone experience outright blows. Rather than maintaining multiple versions of its iPhone operating system, Apple forces me to their latest and “greatest” which forces my phone to act much like the Windows Mobile phones which I left behind. Slow and frustrating.

Having been 2 years since I toted a Windows Mobile phone, I had forgotten what sort of hackery I had once resorted to in order to have a positive experience. Just this week, I finally had enough of my unusable phone, and spent the several hours of research and restoration necessary to revert my iPhone back to a working version of its former self (iOS 3.1.3). I’m once again amazed at the speed and functionality of my phone, and wonder why Apple, which has prided itself on user experience for its mobile users, would allow this sort of gaff to occur.

Looking back, there are three ways I could have solved the dilemma I was facing:

1) Upgrade to an iPhone 4
2) Buy a different smartphone
3) Hack my phone back to a workable version of iOS

Having elected option #3, I didn’t put any extra money in Apple’s pocket, despite being nearly forced into abandoning a perfectly good piece of technology for the iPhone team’s seeming disregard for an 18 month old customer. This makes me wonder, with the new iterations of iPhone replacing the 3GS and iPhone 4, will Apple continue to force increasingly heavy software on older technology which can’t support it (effectively killing the processing power of its older technology)?

There’s a term for this sort of behavior in its worst sort – planned obsolescence. With Apple’s golden reputation amongst the majority of its customers, I have to believe that it was unintentional that they made a two year old product essentially useless. That begs the question, did anyone test iOS 4 on the 3G model before its mass release? We should hope for everyone’s sake that the same blunder doesn’t occur with future iPhone releases.

(for those of you in the same boat as me with the iPhone 3G, here is the link I used to revert back to a functional IOS 3.1.3 – http://lifehacker.com/#!5572003/how-to-downgrade-your-iphone-3g%5Bs%5D-from-ios-4-to-ios-313)

Comments encouraged, I’d like to know if I’m angry rambling or if I have a point

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