Other uses weighing in on Macrumors about the differences between 3G and EDGE and why Apple is waiting indicate that iPhone users are aware that AT&T's 3G network is not widely available in the US. Users also noted that 3G-capable phones consistently run down batteries faster than those on slower networks. One analyst, Ken Dulaney at Gartner, recently confirmed that a 3G phone can use up a battery at a rate 30 percent faster than a 2.5G phone.
Apple officials would not comment on a timetable for the next iPhone release, or even whether it will support 3G.
Two analysts tended to support the decision to release the first iPhone over EDGE in order to get the broadest network reach over higher bandwidth. "EDGE is not a show-stopper for iPhone, and I think the next version will likely have 3G," said Michael King, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
King said some industry experts believe Apple can have a second generation device ready by October, but that Apple won't unveil them so closely behind the first version's June 29 release. King believes AT&T's HSDPA network will be more widely available for US users in late 2008. "It's a pretty usable network now," he said.
With a second generation iPhone, Apple is also likely to support QuickTime, giving access to streaming video that will also use more bandwidth that will tend to require a 3G network, King said.
Shiv Bakhshi, an analyst at IDC, said that Apple was "wise to have chosen ubiquitous network reach over bandwidth...a culture of mobile data consumption in the US is only beginning to set in. By the time it takes hold, Apple will be out with 3G iPhones and AT&T will likely roll a 3G HSDPA network across its national footprint."
Asked when both will happen, Bakhshi said "in under a year”.
But Bakhshi said that it is not clear how much current iPhone users will be downloading from the web. Songs and video can be imported from a PC, so EDGE speeds might not be an impediment for the average user.
"Every network falls short as your expectations rise higher," he said. "Some people will always be high-end users and will find EDGE really frustrating, but for the average Joe Blow like you and me, it will suffice."
Bakhshi said that data usage may not be the biggest driver of iPhone sales. "The single biggest driver of iPhone may not be data usage," he said. "Instead, it might be just its ability to invoke envy in your friends."