iPhone Speculation

by Brian McConnell

Everyone's been speculating about the rumored Apple iPhone, whether it exists and what it will be. This is my hunch as to what they are working on.

Try holding a Nano as if you were talking on a handset. It's just about the perfect size and form factor to double as a nice phone, without any major modifications to the case, except maybe to add a dialpad for numeric dialing and texting. Other than that, it got everything that's already needed.

The problem is that it will be difficult to cram all of the cellular electronics and extra battery into this case, so if they decide to make an all-in-one device, they'll need to make the device bigger and clunkier, more like a Treo or Nokia phone, and less like an iPod. They'll also need to deal with different mobile networks (different device product lines), and with the mobile operators. The handset business is pretty brutal, and while if anybody has a shot at breaking into it, it's Apple, I am not sure that's a business they really want to be in.

On the other hand, you could just add a Bluetooth/WiFi chipset to the device, pair it with whatever carrier issued phone you carry around. Use the iPod as a Bluetooth handset/headset. Use the phone as a fast wireless modem. Done. With one device you can then link to any network via a Bluetooth enabled phone, which most are. Apple would still need to work with carriers, to make sure they do not cripple the use of the Bluetooth modem interface, but this is a vastly simpler task for them than building, certifying and shipping their own phones via hundreds of different operators worldwide. With this approach they can make one device, and then publish a list of phones that it is known to work with.

Who knows what they are actually working on, but I hope that if there is an iPhone in the works, it's something like this.

6 Comments


2006-05-27 09:36:00
this goes completely contrary to Apple's design-savvy choice to "own the whole widget", from hardware to software. they would never do this, IMO.
Brian McConnell
2006-05-27 09:52:03
fair enough, but there is a real risk of Apple underestimating the difficulty and expense involved in building and maintaining a global line of handsets. it's not like the computer industry where you only have three networks to connect to (ethernet, wifi, bluetooth), all of which are the same worldwide.


my point here is that Apple could build a very high quality product by simply embedding Bluetooth in the Nano and let people use it as a handset/headset which would be very easy to do as an intermediate step, and get some good real world feedback from users before making a far more ambitious leap into building fully integrated handsets.

Brock
2006-05-27 10:53:31
Apple doesn't have to deal with the mobile operators. They are a mobile operator. They have registered with the FCC, and are similar to Virgin Wireless in that they will not own the infrastructure, just lease bandwidth (probably from Sprint).


Dealing with multiple telecom standards around the world will be a pain, but they are going to "own the whole widget." They won't make the same mistake (ROKR) again.

KD
2006-05-27 12:32:26
This also means you have to have 2 devices on your hip, and 2 batteries to look after. When you try to integrate a speaker and keypad into the Nano, it's fabled "Apple usability" goes out the window. I don't think this is likely at all.
Anonymouse
2006-05-27 16:27:31
What are you talking about? There will NEVER be an iphone just like there will NEVER be an ipod that plays video.


oops.

Tim Coughlin
2006-05-29 03:26:04
You are forgetting the possibililty that Apple could add the phone as a clip on add on to the nano itself.