General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Technology eReport

American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

September 2008

Vol. 7, No. 3


  • MacNotes
    Should you get the iPhone G3?
  • TechNotes »
    Minority Report brought us a vision of wonderful—and scary—technology. Has the vision become reality?
  • SurvivingEmail »
    List serve characters: the types who type. (Can you recognize yourself?)
  • Sites for Sore Eyes »
    Find out how to build your own search engine.
  • ProductNotes »
    CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, and Quickbooks Pro 2007 for the Mac.
  • DivisionNotes »
    2008 Fall Meeting and National Solo & Small Firm Conference and a Call for Nominations.


iPhone 3G

Apple released its second-generation iPhone in July 2008. I have never seen such a reception for a telephone device, not even the original iPhone. For more than two weeks after its release, buyers stood in lines four and five hours long to buy their iPhones. Several days after the release, I walked by the San Francisco Apple store and saw a line that stretched the length of the block, around the corner, and well down that block. Apple stores refuse to take orders, and you cannot get the phone online from Apple. If you want to buy it from Apple, you have to go to an Apple store and wait in line, as they will only sell it on a first-come, first-served basis. As with the original, Apple released the new phone through a partnership with AT&T. You can get iPhones through AT&T, but when I checked with the local AT&T stores, they never had any available in inventory. AT&T will take orders, promising delivery in as little as three weeks.

Part of the problem with the long lines results from the decision to require in-store activation rather than the activation on your own process used in connection with the first iPhone release. The activation process takes about 20 minutes and, at least at first, had a number of hiccups that made the process longer and more onerous. Even after Apple resolved the problems, the in-store activation process continued to delay delivery and lengthen the wait in line. To accommodate the inventory issue, Apple actually created a feature on its website allowing you to check the available inventory at your local Apple store after 9:00 PM in the evening. You cannot determine the quantity of available phones on the site, but it does tell you what models you can buy at each store the next day.

Amazingly, Apple reported more than a million of the new iPhones sold within the first few days following its release. Inevitably, the lines will ultimately disappear, enabling you to go to an Apple store and get one without a long wait. Alternatively, you can order one from AT&T, wait a few weeks, and take delivery when it arrives, avoiding the long lines.

The new iPhone version, like the original, comes with AT&T service only, but this version promises much faster Internet access because of the use of AT&T’s 3G wireless system. The new iPhone does everything the original version did, only better. Like the original, the new version offers you a combination PDA/smart phone/iPod/Internet appliance with a camera.

The new phone comes with a subsidized price arrangement (if you qualify), allowing you to purchase the 8 GB version of the iPhone for $299 and the 16 GB versions for $399. Apple did not offer the phone in a 32 GB version, despite having that technology available and in place with respect to the iPhone’s sibling, the iPod Touch. The iPhone comes in 2 flavors, black (8 and 16 GB) and white (16 GB only). The new iPhone has a similar size, but slightly different shape than the original, so slip–in cases that work with the original will likely work acceptably with the new version. Form-fitted cases designed for the original will not work properly with the new version, requiring you to acquire a new case for your new phone.

The new iPhone comes with a plastic case instead of the metal case used on the original. I preferred the looks and appearance of solidity and strength of the metal case. Time will tell how the new plastic case reacts to use and how easily it will scratch. As a precaution, I will encase mine with one of the industrial strength clear plastic covers that protect it against such damage.

Although Apple did not improve the camera in the new version, almost everything else works better or faster. In addition, the new iPhone includes a fully functional GPS device, improving on the location and direction features of the original that worked off of a triangulation process keyed to cell towers. The iPhone can provide a highlighted route or turn-by-turn directions, making it harder than ever to get lost when visiting a new city. The iPhone maps feature gives you several perspectives, including satellite views. The iPhone also gives you traffic information along your route.

Several months prior to releasing the new iPhone, Apple released the iPhone SDK (software development kit). The kit allows developers to create applications downloadable to the iPhone and usable on the phone, even when you do not have Internet access. Apple then modified the iTunes store to include an application division (the App Store). You can access the App Store from your iPhone or from your computer and download numerous programs and applications to your iPhone. You can get many excellent applications free. You can purchase others for various prices. See the App Store by accessing the iTunes Store through the new version of iTunes (a free download that you must have to coordinate with the new iPhone).

For those of you working in larger firms, the new iPhone offers exchange server compatibility and increased and improved security designed to attract the attention of the IT departments of larger businesses and to obtain the approval of those departments for use by employees.

For those of you who already have iPhones, Apple released a new version of the iPhone’s firmware/software. The upgrade to version 2 costs nothing for iPhone owners. Those owning iPod Touch devices may upgrade them to the new software for a fee of $9.95. The software upgrade does not give you GPS or 3G Internet access speed, but it does make available most of the other features of the new iPhone.

Although some companies have recently offered phones shaped similarly to the iPhone and using similar touch-screen technology, no phone we have found does everything the iPhone does as successfully or as elegantly.

Courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.

Should you get the iPhone? If you want the 3G Internet access and or the GPS, absolutely, but I would not spend time waiting in line for one. Either order it from AT&T or wait until the lines disappear. Apple will still have iPhones to sell, and you can save your time. If you already have an iPhone and don’t care about the speed or the GPS, certainly upgrade to the new software.

Concurrently with the release of the new iPhone, Apple released its upgraded mobile technology, “MobileMe.” MobileMe promises the ability to sync various computers to each other as well as to your iPhone, to enable sharing of contact and calendar information by holding it in its server and pushing it to the various devises. It also allows the use of push technology for email. MobileMe replaces the .Mac accounts (all will automatically convert) and requires payment of a fee (you can get a 60-day free trial, but after that, you must pay a $99 annual subscription fee). You can also get a family plan for $149 a year. The individual plan includes 20 GB of storage space. The family plan includes one master account with 20 GB of storage and 4 family member accounts, each with its own log in and 5 GB of storage space. You can also acquire additional storage space at an annual cost of $49 for 20 GB and $99 for 40 GB.

Unfortunately, the MobileMe service did not work as well as I had hoped when first released. Many users reported serious difficulties with respect to setting it up and getting it to work. Apple’s support for MobileMe also proved disappointing. Apple does not offer any telephone support for MobileMe. Apple provides a website with information about MobileMe and will eventually answer email questions. I sent some email to MobileMe support and got a response about two days later. Unfortunately, it did not solve the issue. Although I have confidence that Apple will eventually get MobileMe working, it does not work well now. I have turned it off myself and cannot recommend that you use it yet.

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GPSOLO magazine. He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for lawyers and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, Jeffrey has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You can contact Jeffrey via e-mail at .

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