Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

Summary:For early adopters, owning an iPhone 4S hasn't been a great experience.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the iPhone 4S has been having more than its share of issues over the past few days. But should early adopters be surprised?

Here's the rundown:

First, the battery life. Dubbed "batterygate" the iPhone 4S's biggest problem so far has been characterized by inexplicably bad battery life. On Wednesday, Apple eventually dropped a few, mostly vague details on the causes of the issues, which the company ascribed to bugs in iOS 5. "A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices”, Apple said in a statement. “We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.”

But that wasn't the last of Apple's problems. The latest set of issues involve Siri, the now-beloved voice assistant plugged into the iPhone 4S. Since 11AM on Thursday users have reported a pretty widespread outage of the Siri software. So far Apple hasn't said anything on the cause if the issues, - which isn't much a surprise considering it tends to be how Apple handles these sorts of things. Explained or not, the loss of Siri is a big deal for many users, many of whom picked up the iPhone 4S for that very functionality.
But in the midst of the outage it is easy to forget one thing: as robust as Siri currently is, the software is still in beta. Apple doesn't say this too loudly, of course.  Instead the company relegates the mentioning of Siri's beta distinction to a small bit of print on the software's page: "Siri is available in Beta only on iPhone 4S and requires Internet access." Perhaps Siri's current issues should be understood within that context.

Either way, the beta label is an interesting one and leads, somewhat inevitably, to the question of whether all new devices be given the same title. After all, less than a month has passed since the iPhone 4S was released. Shouldn't a few hardware and software hiccups be a given? Early adopters of the Xbox 360 and countless other devices have also felt the effects of buying into a new technology early on. It's called the early adopter tax, and is rarely ever a good thing. Then again, its just as easy to argue the opposite: Products that come to market should be complete ones, not bug-filled, semi-complete releases. Whatever direction a new product goes, its the early adopters that are hit with the bulk of the issues. And that's not an enviable position to be in.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

About

Ricardo Bilton writes for ZDNet's The ToyBox.

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