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5/31/2007
11:10 AM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Jobs Says EDGE Is Fast: Has The Reality Distortion Field Hit The iPhone?

Steve Jobs made headlines yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference. Of course, Jobs spoke about the iPhone, but during his remarks, I began to see the telltale signs of the reality distortion field at work.

Steve Jobs made headlines yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference. Of course, Jobs spoke about the iPhone, but during his remarks, I began to see the telltale signs of the reality distortion field at work.This is the comment that made my RDF radar go off like mad:

Interesting thing, it automatically switches to Wi-Fi automatically -- I'm in this industry, we were the first to ship a laptop with Wi-Fi, shipped the first G, first N routers... If you choose to join a network it remembers that. But if you're in a place and you want to join a Wi-Fi network you haven't joined before it prompts you. But it's EVERYWHERE. There's like 10x more Wi-Fi out there than I ever thought there was. Wi-Fi is faster than any 3G, and EDGE is very fast too.

EDGE is fast? Steve, are you serious? EDGE is barely better than an old-school dial-up modem and, if you factor in the latency (and network slowdowns) inherent in many wireless connections, it's often worse.

Now maybe Apple and AT&T have cooked up some kind of application optimization scheme for the iPhone that we don't know about. There are ways to make EDGE connections feel and work faster (Could this be another hidden feature of the iPhone?). But we haven't heard anything about this. And without some kind of optimization scheme -- and maybe even with one -- the iPhone is going to be pretty darned slow on EDGE.

And sure, I appreciate the automatic Wi-Fi connections, but Wi-Fi is far from ubiquitous which means that most iPhone users are going to be stuck with second-rate wide area data speeds.

There is another possibility here too. The iPhone may be largely intended as a Wi-Fi multimedia device that also happens to work as a cell phone. If this is the case, then the iPhone may be less than the smartphone that we've been expecting.

What do you think? Will the iPhone be incredibly slow over EDGE connections?

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