My experience leading up to the iPhone 2.1 update was nothing short of horrendous. I think I had maybe a week or two as a honeymoon period and from there the wonder and awe quickly disintegrated into frustration and finally apathy. Before the iPhone would frequently crash and even get trapped in the black screen of death. Usually, the cause of failure was a typical application installation gone bad. It didn’t matter whether you installed via iTunes or wifi though wifi had a much higher failure rate. CJK input (converting characters into Japanese in my case) was a nightmare. The iPhone would freeze between input before finally showing conversion candidates. Then once in a while it would constantly crash until being reset. In the end, the iPhone became nothing more than a browser that was only marginally more useful than my jail-broken iPod touch. The worst part of the ordeal was the backup and restore process. Backups would take more than an hour on average and so would restores. In the end I tried to limit syncing to weekends, so I at least had time to reset everything should the occasion arise and there were plenty of occasions to do just that. Of course, during this whole time the iPhone was unusable as a phone.
With the 2.1 firmware update I can finally use the iPhone as intended. Japanese input is much snappier and I can even install apps via wifi without crashes or freezes, backups are much faster (though they could do more) and luckily I haven’t yet had the chance to test the restore process. I think Apple would have done better to delay the release of the iPhone here in Japan until the 2.1 update rather than tarnish their image. They certainly did a bad job releasing beta ware not only with the iPhone but leopard. I certainly hope they finally put priorities between solidifying current offerings and maybe create a stronger base to build upon for future releases so consumers don’t have to go through this heart break.