image source

I'm not in the slightest bit surprised that Apple stopped updating the iPhone 3G past iOS 4.2.1. However, although understandable I was a little annoyed at the fact that they pulled all the compatible versions of iOS applications that were compatible with iOS right up until iOS version 4.2.1.

Generally I like to check to see what then hacking community is doing from time to time in their endevours to "f*ck the system" so to speak purely because I have an iPhone 3G. If I had the money I would have certainly upgraded by now. (probably to something a little more secure, official, and officially unlocked whether that be with Apple or not). Also I generally like to keep my gear that I'm still using in good nick if I can, especially if its vastly more affordable then it used to be i.e. at a fraction of the price. For example I only just recently replaced a back cover on my iPhone 3G with a new one but it was too big by a millimetre (0.5mm in other parts) as well as having screw holes that were too wide for the original body screws despite having a premium like finish to it and an authentic looking silver Apple logo with silk screen manufacturer blurb on it. As a result the whole phone is still kind of wobbly whilst having a 1mm (1.5mm in parts) gap between the metal bezel and back cover, the exposed edge of the bezel from the gap due to the ill fitting back cover has actually cut deep in to my skin a number of times whilst quickly handling the phone. It also caused the original authentic ringer/silence switch to snap off with the hole for the switch being a millimetre out of place. Definitely a waste of 20 quid for what was claiming to be like the original. However I've just clocked another replacement back cover with an even more assertive claim of being a "like for like" replacement of Apples original back cover for a fiver (which included a couple of email exchanges). Everyone else seemed to be selling them for less in bulk offers which might also suggest the lack of demand for them in general at this point.     

But with the effort of refurbishing a still used iPhone 3G aside, its mainly used for viber instant messaging and listening to music whilst out on a trek. I think at the very least it would be reasonable of Apple to request or somehow try to engineer a situation where people would at the very least move over to an iPhone 3Gs in order to get past iOS 4.2.1, mainly because it has the processing speed to run certain more recent apps (not all) and video with newer features more smoothly without locking up or hanging. Not to mention the iPhone 3G has awful battery life with 3G active where it will drain in a matter of a couple of hours, it'll drain even faster with a wi-fi connection active (and faster still if both wi-fi and 3G are active!). However if I use it as an MP3 player only with no 3G or wi-fi at all it could last up to 2 days within a regular usage pattern. Possibly longer if I turn off the phone capabilities completely. Maybe the battery could also do with replacing too.

Although Android devices are updatable to a certain point, you'll also find that within specific generations of Android devices they won't go past a certain Android OS iteration, however people generally over look this because with each generation of Android smartphone device there are Android devices that are new ranging from extremely affordable to mid range to top end premium all installed with the most current version of the Android OS with varying degrees of specifications. If you buy an Android phone that only supports up to 3.0.1 there will most certainly be a whole bunch of apps you won't be able to use.

With Apple its a little different, their hardware platform is unified and only they produce it. So their pricing range and segmentation is determined by hardware generation only for the main part (besides the more obvious determining factor of storage capacity) and not differing brands or new to market target market segments also in the more general sense. They let device age create the depreciation to determine the pricing segmentation the device will fall into at any particular time. Just like android too but obviously without differing ranges within each generation determined by brand.

There's also the issue of more demanding apps/software with more features and better games needing more processing power or better graphics processors which the previous generation of phones don't have.

I accept that not everyone wants to run the the latest 3D games, but I reckon about the only thing 3G iPhone owners can do at this point is pool together all their working apps for their iPhone 3G (stored in the iTunes apps folder on your computer if you've not already deleted them) and maybe upload them to a user created site for the iPhone 3G. That way you could build a comprehensive catalog of the most current iOS app versions that were compatible upto/on iOS 4.2.1 and no later. After which you've still got to figure out a way of getting those apps functioning on the iPhone 3G without using iTunes if you didn't actually download them using your linked account details which your local iTunes app catalogs and associates them to (even the free applications!), but I'm certain there are 3rd party apps for your desktop that allow you to get round this although I'm not entirely sure what they are called.

There's also the problem of the fact that the vast majority of 3G iPhone's are jail broken because no one really wanted to pay the £10 to £15 (originally £50 to £100 depending on network carrier) cost of officially unlocking their device via their network provider. Much in the way that no one really wants to for none iOS devices too. It wouldn't be right of Apple to be officially endorsing jailbreaks (despite the fact that they do sort of unofficially create variants of jailbreaks to begin with to turn a bunch of jail broken devices into unofficial test devices that are actually out in the wild, this in part helps to determine the viability of new updates in how they run before decisions are made about what official iOS firmware updates get released to iTunes for specific iPhone devices. Generally most people who take on the undertaking usually have the expertise to sort it or have a place to to get it sorted if something should go wrong with their device.

The official iPhone 3G firmware finished at 4.1.2. The most current Jailbreaks for the iPhone 3G pushes it to 4.2.1 by installing an iPad base-band! Technically the iphone 3G in its official form should only supports apps compatible up to iOS 4.1.2.  and not iOS 4.2.1. Once you've upgraded to the Jailbreak you can't really go back to the official stock firmware on the iphone 3G if you want compatibility with more recent apps post 4.1.2 and upto 4.2.1, Beyond that what are Apple expected to do? Limit development and innovation for apps for the sake of old hardware as competitors in the market make better apps for running on faster devices with more processing and graphical capability for Apple to then get left behind? Apple are fully aware that innovation often doesn't happen in the commercial domain despite the fact that all consumers want the safety net and support of it. How else do you think Apple are going to provide the safety net and support within the bounds that most innovation happens? Innovations happens best when people are unaware of seeming controlling factors and safety nets, as awareness often stunts true innovation through creating a type of bias. In part a bit like the days when we used to go out raving and got spaced out whilst pouring our mind spills onto our personal digital devices and the internet. Obviously we don't want a world full of insane people with mental problems and a boatload of personal issues, but you only have to look at who and how the most innovative artist and thinkers were throughout history and the flip side of their seeming "genius" tainted by personal issues, strange idiosyncratic and often mental illness, but I'm going off track here, back to the point...
There also seems to be an overwhelming perception that iPhone devices would last until they broke, I too had this perception and generally Apple were a victim of their own user generated word of mouth marketing machine singing their praise and thus they had to follow through with it to a point. Technically the iPhone 3G will last as a smartphone (that allows for email/messaging/web browsing) and music playing device until it breaks. Also there are means and ways to extend the use of pre iOS 4.2.1 applications on the 3G iPhone beyond the official limitations much in the way pretty much nearly everyone managed to jailbreak it. At least Apple don't artificially brick your phone/laptops/computers or make it appear broken like some other manufacturers might do to limit the actual usage life of the device to either get you to buy something new or keep repair technicians employed with a steady stream of work whilst making people seriously consider buying more extended cover. 

Essentially my iPhone 3G still works, it just doesn't work as securely as it might do if it wasn't a jail broken device with loads of other crap added to it allowing for discrete access judging by the shouting and chattering voices coming from our street with something to say on just about every single instant message I send to my "wife" in conversations when using my iPhone 3G. Just as my instant messages through Viber to my so called wife seemed to generate quite a lot of audible amusement coming from the neighbors.