03/06/08 – with only six days to go, you’d think we were contemplating some sort of imminent messianic return instead of, gasp, just a new phone. Still, we feel duty bound to report the latest scuttlebutt.
Of course, the reality is that no one, bar S. Jobs Esq and his allies, knows what’s happening next week, so keep that dose of salt at the ready.
24/04/2008 - the 3G iPhone internet rumour mill continues to turn (at least until somebody finally gets a solid glimpse of Apple's second generation handset). Here's what people are saying so far:
Anonymous sources have apparently been talking to The Times, suggesting that Apple's next iPhone will be "radically different". But how different? A Sidekick-esque flip phone? A clever dual-screen clamshell? A slider with a Qwerty keyboard? What about a smaller iPhone nano or an iPhone mini?
Other 3G iPhone rumours that have been circulating include: a combined video/photo camera (with increased camera resolution, maybe 5MP?); video conferencing functionality; a built-in GPS module; and a boost in the onboard memory to 32GB.
Digg head-honcho Kevin Rose has also suggested that the 3G iPhone will support two-way video iChat with dual cameras (one on the front, one on the back).
Why change the iPhone?
Anything's possible. But why make cosmetic changes to the iPhone at all? Admittedly, the 2G model hasn't sold as well in Europe as it has done in the US. Analysts expect losses to be "significant" and £100 price slashes in the UK (until 1 June) are designed to shift old inventory before the 3G model hits.
But the iPhone has arguably re-invigorated a mobile market that had been coasting along, half-heartedly tempting customers with chassis tweaks and small-time tech innovations. The multi-touch UI on the iPhone alone makes every other mobile phone you've ever used feel clunky in comparison. Where's the elegance in adding a keyboard? Isn't that something that Microsoft would do?
Whatever the 3G iPhone looks like, the industry squealers chit-chatting to The Times claim that 200,000 new iPhones have been ordered by Apple for the end of May, with another two million pencilled in for June.
Apple needs the iPhone to be a success. In its latest financial figures, iPod numbers are up just 1 per cent, suggesting that almost everyone who wants an iPod may already have one. The iPhone offers a converged option - why carry your iPod and a phone when you can have one device that does both?
Unlocked iPhones a-plenty
Crucial to selling more iPhones is extending their availability to consumers - a large number of the 1.7 million phones already sold in the US are unlocked and Apple's firmware updates are typically hacked/jailbroken within days of going live. So there are also suggestions that Apple could break with its current one territory/one preferred carrier approach when it launches the 3G iPhone in June.
In fact, the Washington Post reports that Apple could abandon revenue sharing deals in favour of a higher price for the iPhone, which the carriers would then subsidise. The information comes from Italian heavyweight paper La Repubblica.
Apple is also lining up third-party SDK-built apps for launch at this year's WWDC. The games and other productivity software sold via iTunes will ultimately add a new revenue stream to Apple's fledgling smartphone business. Over 200,000 developers have already signed up.
Apple's WWDC takes place on 9-13 June and, while it's traditionally a software-centric affair, it would be the ideal platform to launch the 3G iPhone. That said, Carphone Warehouse and O2 stores in the UK are only running the £100 price cut offer on the 2G iPhone until 1 June. What happens in the eight days in-between? Does the price go back up? Or will Apple have already held one of its 'special events' to show off iPhone 2.0?
What about all the 2G iPhone owners?
And what happens to all those 2G iPhone owners who still have a large chunk of their contracts left? Remember, the original iPhone was launched in the US on 29 June last year, so a full WWDC launch will render the first-gen handset obsolete within a year. UK early adopters are just over six months into an 18-month lock-down.
If O2 is clever, it'll offer existing cash-rich customers the opportunity to upgrade their phones and extend their contracts.
But let's not count the 2G iPhone out yet - O2's offer of 600 minutes, 500 texts and unlimited internet access for £35 is still a great deal. And, when upgraded to the 2.0 firmware in June, the 2G iPhone is going to make one hell of a games machine and corporate email device.
Will you buy a 3G iPhone? Are you a current iPhone owner who's happy getting by with EDGE/GPRS access? Let us know.