Apple Wish List: Five Smart Moves for the Coming Year

Only a few weeks remain of 2009, and thus begins the task of defining new year's resolutions—in this case, we'll be making a list for Apple and the iPhone. Even though the iPhone had a banner year, we still have some ideas for change in 2010.

But first, let's reflect on this year's iPhone-related accomplishments. There's simply no denying that the iPhone had an enormous year. Some of the highlights: the hugely successful debut of iPhone 3.0 and iPhone 3GS, Apple's record-breaking earnings, and the App Store hitting the 100,000 app milestone.

Next year looks like another big year for Apple, too. Market researcher IDC predicts the App Store will surpass 300,000 apps and that Apple will indeed deliver its much-rumored, superbly-hyped Apple tablet. Moreover, IDC foresees the number of mobile devices connected to the Internet hitting one billion, which comes tantalizingly close to the 1.3 billion PCs that currently tap the Internet.

"It will be a watershed year for the ascension of mobile devices," said IDC analyst Frank Gens.

The iPhone ignited this ascension, of course, and now Apple sits in the driver's seat. But a few bad maneuvers could derail the movement, which leads us to the first of five things we'd like to see from Apple next year regarding the iPhone.

Hello, Hello, Hello—Verizon!

As iPhone owners gobble up bandwidth, as much as five times more than other mobile users, AT&T's overtaxed data network has led to a shoddy customer experience. If this continues, AT&T poses the biggest risk to the iPhone's ongoing success. After all, Apple bills the iPhone as the best mobile customer experience in the world.

Much of the onus to fix this problem rests on AT&T. To its credit, AT&T has spent a fortune, investing nearly $65 million since 2008 to improve its 3G wireless network in the San Francisco Bay Area alone. The exclusive carrier of the iPhone is also rolling out HSPA 7.2 technology nationwide with completion expected in 2011.

But if next year is truly mobile devices' watershed year, AT&T's efforts may be too late. AT&T received the lowest score among wireless carriers with a below average rating in a recent Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey. Verizon earned above average marks, while T-Mobile and Sprint received average scores.

With AT&T's exclusive hold on the iPhone set to expire mid-2010, we're hoping Apple heeds the pleas of iPhone customers and wannabe customers and opens the iPhone to other carriers. Even though Verizon has slammed AT&T and, indirectly, the iPhone, in its "Map for That" ads, Verizon is still the iPhone carrier of choice for the future.

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