Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The iPhone rumor cycle

Since the release of the first version, the iPhone rumor cycle has started every year in April. Current rumors for the next version that will likely be released in June with my comments:
  • Verizon version late 2010 -- maybe. I'm not sure that anyone is privy to whether or not AT&T has lost exclusivity except for Apple, Verizon, and AT&T; bear in mind that the iPad only runs in 3G on GSM (not Verizon), but that may just be a play to make it world-friendly. Ultimately if the iPhone does come out on Verizon, the folks that jump may be customers that AT&T ultimately does not want and it will be interesting to see if Verizon's network can handle the increased data volume.
  • Front-facing camera -- seems unlikely. I certainly haven't experienced tremendous speed increases in AT&T's 3G network that would lead me to believe that this would be a useful feature in a non-wifi environment, but maybe they'll only let video chat work over wifi.
  • Higher resolution screen -- probably so.
  • A4 (Apple) processor -- very likely.
  • Multi-tasking -- maybe. I'm guessing that if it happens, this is not going to be a free-for-all, but will have some sort of maximum number of concurrent applications that can run, priority for memory, etc. Bear in mind that we've gone through 3ish generations of the product without this happening and all of us seem to be able to function.
  • 802.11n support -- probably, but there may be some very real battery endurance concerns.
  • 4G network support -- maybe in the chipset, but I would be surprised to see it turned on for the initial release.
  • New graphics chip -- very likely.
  • New display -- very likely; not sure if it will be some sort of LED or IPS like the iPad.
  • User-removable battery -- fat chance, why would they change now?
  • Higher resolution camera and flash -- there doesn't seem to be a good reason not to have this, but none of the previous version have had a flash.
From a competition perspective, Apple is going to have to release a lot of the options above to compete with the specs of phones like the Nexus One, which is now available in a version that works on AT&T's network and is available fully unlocked.

Expect the rumors to continue to build with supposedly leaked specifications, leaked parts pictures, etc. As usual, none of us will know for sure until Jobs makes the announcement touting the new features. One important item of note is that the landscape is much more hypercompetitive with AT&T and all of the other carriers on track to continue to pump out Android-based phones that will attempt to heavily compete in the space.

On the plus side of things, if you don't need whatever the fancy new features wind up being, you'll likely be able to get a 3G or 3Gs for next to nothing once the 4G starts being sold.

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