It made sense to call the second-generation iPhone the iPhone 3G, as the addition of a faster 3G wireless chipset and antenna was in many ways the defining feature of the device. The next iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, once again has its distinctive feature spelled out right in the name: "S" for speed, since the 3GS is a faster version of its predecessor.
So why won't the next iPhone be called the iPhone 4G? For a pretty good reason, actually: as of right now, worldwide deployment of faster, ultra-broadband 4G wireless networks isn't even in its infancy -- it's barely past the fetal stage. In the US, Verizon and Sprint are testing 4G coverage in some major cities, but they're still a long way off from nationwide deployment. AT&T won't begin deployment of 4G networks until 2011, and T-Mobile is even farther behind in the 4G race.
As for the rest of the world, only Japan, South Korea, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Taiwan have even begun the first steps toward a 4G rollout. We will probably see a handset called the iPhone 4G as soon as there's enough 4G wireless coverage to warrant putting a 4G antenna and chipset in it. Based on the current rate of 4G network deployments in the States, to say nothing of the rest of the world, that's at least a year or more in the future.
Given that the next iPhone is almost certainly not going to be called the iPhone 4G, why is everybody under the sun calling it that anyway? Read on to find out.