It’s criminal what the iPhone lacks (it can’t even dance!).

In yet another list of so-called missing features, Apple 2.0 has posted the iPhone’s “missing pieces”.

I like Apple 2.0, and have it linked right here on my blog, but this piece is a bit off. Not because of the few reasonable complaints about the iPhone it points out, but rather because of the number of unreasonable or even outright ridiculous complaints it discusses.

I’ve listed them in order, and in each case I place it into one of three categories:

  • Obvious – A complaint about a feature I think is reasonable to wonder why the iPhone does not include.
  • Questionable – A complaint that might be nice to have, but not something that would make a lot of people’s “missing feature” lists, or even improve the phone in the eyes of a significant number of potential users. I see these mostly as examples of knowing when to say “no.”
  • Silly – A complaint that comes from left field, or a wish list, or a rumor site, that had no basis in legitimacy and therefore no business being listed as “missing.”

Here is the list:

No instant messaging

Obvious. Many phones include this, and with Apple’s bragging about their own iChat this seems a no-brainer. Sure, Apple’s SMS is setup to simulate IM, but it’s not the same. I don’t understand this omission.

No way to IM pictures, videos, sounds (i.e. no MMS)

Obvious. Almost every phone on the planet with a camera lets you send picture and sound messages. Sure, with the iPhone you can email them, but that’s hardly the same.

Can’t cut and pasteCan’t edit or save Word, Excel, PDF documents

Questionable. These are not major file editing machines (and I refer to all smartphones, not just the iPhone). If it could cut and paste, no doubt there would be complaints about how hard it is. How many people use this? Some? Sure, but not enough to matter. At first, everyone was wailing that Word and Excel files couldn’t be viewed. Now that they can, the issue is they can’t be edited. Whatever. I wonder if Google Apps can be a potential answer to this?

Camera can’t record video

Questionable. Most people use their camera phone to take pictures of fair quality, not to take movies of crappy quality.

Can’t play Web pages with Flash

Questionable. The iPhone allows web browsing the likes of which no cell phone or smartphone has ever seen before. No longer banished to crappy WAP or mobile sites. So does it get praise? No, people bitch because there’s no Flash. They said this would prevent, for example, YouTube, but I guess not, huh? Apple didn’t add Flash, YouTube subtracted it!

No access to iTunes Music Store

Silly. This was never promised, discussed, or even hinted at by Apple or any site except pie in the sky rumor and dream sites. It’ll likely come some day, but to expect it now is unreasonable.

No games

Obvious. I suspect the issue here was that the iPod’s games require the “old” iPod interface, and need re-tooling for the iPhone touch screen. I think games will come pretty soon.

No way to download contacts from old phones

Silly. This is only a one-time setup task. Further, the iPhone syncs back and forth beautifully with your computer. If your existing phone can do that, then transferring to the iPhone will be a snap. If your existing phone can’t do that, then it’s just one of the reasons you’re getting rid of the piece of crap.

Can’t turn contact lists into e-mail distribution lists

Questionable. Is this common? Especially as primarily a consumer device I can’t see this being on 99 out of 100 people’s lists.

Can’t turn iPod songs into ring tones

Silly. I bet Apple would do this in a heartbeat if they could. It’s about licensing. The RIAA and labels are too stupid to make this a reasonable option. Apple’s still working with them in talks, but it’s up to them.

No way to search phone book or song lists

Obvious. I’ve been looking through doc and the user guide video to check on this, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest a search feature like current iPods have. The iPhone will make it easier to scroll, and easier to find a particular letter, but there are still times I think I’d like typing in a few letters and getting a list. Not sure why this isn’t on the iPhone.

No voice dialing

Obvious (but borderline Questionable). It has a mic and a speaker phone, why not allow voice dialing? I don’t use it; I think most people don’t use it, so I guess that’s why. In that regard this could have been listed as questionable. Still, it’s pretty common on phones so I’m not sure why they avoided it.

No quick way to move up or down pages

Questionable. You mean a Home and End key? I can see this, I guess, but the fact is with alphabet scrolling for the iPod and contacts, and finger-flick scrolling in web pages making short work of them, I’m not really sure what “quick” way could be implemented that would really be, well, quicker.

Not clear if there is support for Microsoft Exchange

Questionable. (And if you’re not sure, why is this even here?) If Exchange is supporting the open IMAP standard (which it’s capable of) then the support is there. Otherwise it’s not there, though there are rumors otherwise. I think Apple plans to make the bulk of their money on this device from consumers, not business. Native Exchange support would be nice, but I see no reason to believe it would help on day 1. Blackberry is all about business, but you don’t see them in the hands of many consumers. Apple would be fine if the iPhone was the other way round.

No other carrier except AT&T Wireless

Questionable, with an explanation. If you live in an area of weak AT&T coverage, you can’t even consider the iPhone. Period. That certainly sucks, so it’s “obvious” they should have supported more than one carrier. However, AT&T supports GSM, which is the international standard Apple wanted to follow. Further, AT&T was willing to compromise and work with Apple on things like visual voice mail. Also, it’s known that AT&T had no say in the device and didn’t even see one until very late in the game. Apple had control. Frankly, Apple needed control to make the iPhone what it is. No one else had that vision. You can bitch and moan that it’s all hype, but the reality is otherwise. If Apple didn’t work with a single vendor who ceded hardware and software design decisions to them at the outset, a lot of what the iPhone is would be compromised. In fact, it would likely be little more than just another cell phone.

No AT&T Wireless insurance

Not sure what the deal is here. Is there AppleCare for the thing?

No way to change SIM card or battery except through Apple

Silly, with an explanation. It’s “obvious” that in the future this will not be silly. I mean, duh, it’s why they went the GSM route in the first place! But it’s silly now (bordering on ludicrous). With all the exclusive talk the last six months, and Apple and AT&T making it clear that’s how it will be, only a wishful thinker of the highest order (or a moron) should be surprised to see that Apple/AT&T took many steps to prevent it form being used on another network in the US right now.

No GPS or live navigation system

Silly. Most phones don’t have it, and most of the ones that do are slow and it burns through the battery anyway. Google Maps provides directions with real-time traffic flows, and the only thing you need to know that GPS would otherwise provide is where you are. If you don’t know where you are then you’re hosed anyway. Oh, and the first one who counters this with being stranded somewhere under freak circumstances and being saved by their GPS is getting punched in the mouth. Can we have some realistic expectations, and not scenarios extracted from our rectum, please?

No VPN for secure communications

According to Apple’s own iPhone Q&A it does support VPN.

No access to a fast, 3G network

Questionable, with an explanation. WiFi blows away 3G, and the iPhone is given too little credit for its inclusion. I believe that, as a consumer device, Apple sees this being used a lot more at Starbuck’s than on the road. Sure, 3G would be better than EDGE, but AT&T’s 3G rollout is limited, and Apple had other good reasons to go with AT&T.

Bottom line to me is that anybody can list what’s “missing,” but a realistic analysis of the device and target market makes most of the above questionable. If all the “obvious” items were added, they may grab a few potential buyers right off the bat. Maybe for day 1 Apple feels they’ll sell every one they make, so at this point they don’t need those buyers? Regardless, I can see the “obvious” getting added down the road.

As for the questionable items, if they were all added to the iPhone tomorrow, the critics would not stop howling (they’d just come up with more) and, more importantly, relatively few people would be swayed in favor of the device.

Finally, what Apple has included is clearly of more value than what they left off. If you do not agree, that’s fine, but then iPhone isn’t for you, and there are many phones that will fit the bill.