Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
Search I,Cringely:

The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
July 12, 2007 -- Let the Chips Fall
Status: [CLOSED]

During the MacWorld iPhone announcement, Jobs mentioned something along the lines of "we'd rather not have the FCC be the one to introduce you to the iPhone" referring to the long lead-time the FCC needs to approve devices.

Is there truth in that statement or was that just a marketing strategy? When did FCC-released iPhone v1 details? If so, will Apple *always* have to announce new iPhones with a 6ish month lead time?

Steve Sabol | Jul 12, 2007 | 9:19PM

Some other things to consider:
• Who the hell would listen to any financial firm's analyst regarding a tech rumour? Even Dvorak would have a better idea what is going on.
• I don't see what an iPhone Nano would even do for Apple at this time. Not until the iPhone is well entrenched will Apple consider a different model. Why muddle your product line this early?
• The iPhone is already running Leopard.
• Does anyone know which H,264 chip the iPhone has in it? I can't find the exact details of it anywhere.

@ Steve Sabol

There is truth to it but 6 months is a long time even for the FCC. Though I do recall reading that the FCC took a lot longer than normal to approve the iPhone. Plus there is the distinct possibility that Apple couldn't keep AT&T employees quiet for very long if they were going to start this massive rollout. But the real reason is as Bob stated, strategic marketing.

So if Apple did release an iPhone Nano it would have to get FCC approval which means we will know about months before it is released.

Leonard Nimrod | Jul 12, 2007 | 9:43PM

Who knows about timing, but I'd wager that the 3G rollout sometime in 2008 will also come with a more expensive data plan. That's the way you'd a) make more money, and b) keep current iPhone users from being *too* pissed. I, for instance, would opt for the current model over a 3G model if it was, say, $20-30 per month cheaper on the data part.

I thought AT&T would be raping iPhone users on their data plans, but strangely that did not happen. Perhaps it will with 3G. They've got a bit of cushion there.

Mike D. | Jul 12, 2007 | 10:27PM

Which begs the question: If they really do have a 3G iPhone in the works, don't they have to have it FCC approved, and hence listed on the FCC website? Is it there now, but nobody has picked up on it? Or is there really no 3G version (for the US) pending anytime soon? Aren't there similar requirements in Europe, and do they similarly post to a website? Has anyone checked? Seems there are plenty of phone websites trawling FCC and similar sites for any tidbits of upcoming phones, and the news should have broken if it was in the works.

Martin Andersen | Jul 12, 2007 | 10:37PM

Given the timings on Leopard, iLife 07/08 and iWork 07/08 I think we shall be hearing about a Keynote at Apple Expo in Paris (25-29 Sept).

3G iPhone should ship before an iPhone Nano as the differentiator for the iPhone has been the screen size and multi-touch. Why go away from these USPs within the first 12 months? Use the iPod model, grow the features of a core model then change the game by adding a new design once the market is established.

Geoff T | Jul 12, 2007 | 10:44PM

An "Phoneless iPhone" makes the most sense to me. Leave off the camera, network, and the phone, and you have the next generation iPod.

The iPod interface is no longer amazing, and other MP3 players are beginning to copy it. It would make perfect sense of rolling out a new "iPod Mach II" and send the competition back to the drawing board for another five years.

Besides, everyone would now have to have this new iPod. Apple will be making so much money that they'll be able to buy Microsoft. Actually, I was thinking about Apple consider buying Sun, then deciding that its in too much trouble to be saved. Then maybe make insist that the best way to get stock holder value out of Dell would be to liquidate the company and give the money back to the stock holders.

David W. | Jul 12, 2007 | 10:55PM

Wouldn't it be nice if Apple could upgrade iPhone 1.0 to 3G by factory exchange of current 2.5 chip to 3G at the same time it introduces iPhone 2.0 with 3G

lou S | Jul 12, 2007 | 11:09PM

Re: H.264, which I think is the more interesting part of this story - Note that there are already H.264 decoder chips available for both Mac and Windows as USB dongles. Also note that, e.g., Elgato's current model only encodes to a max resolution of 800x600 - far from HD in real-time. Of course, maybe Apple's just waiting for HD chips to become available to cannibalize Elgato's product... and maybe waiting for that day to upgrade the iTunes video content to 720p as well.

Nevertheless, I heard it won't be Apple doing this, but nVidia and ATi, who are going to start bundling H.264 encoding/decoding capability into their new graphics chips.

me | Jul 12, 2007 | 11:39PM

iPhone is scheduled to launch in Asia early 2008. do cellphone networks in Asia use EDGE? No. do cellphone networks in Asia use 3G? Yes. QED.

AD | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:15AM

How does iChat work with the camera on one side of the iPhone and the screen on the other?

bab | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:22AM

Any one aware someone has already disassembled an iPhone and found a chip labeled 3G already inside?

BrainiacV | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:36AM

A while back there was a patent Apple filed... it said something about using the spaces between a screens pixels to hold tiny image sensors. Software (or some hardware I suppose) would stitch the pixels together to create an image. In a nutshell, this would allow you to look directly at your screen... and the person on the other end of a video chat... instead of looking like your eyes were cast down.

Perhaps the iPhone is the place to implement this at some point. How cool would that be?


PS - I'm waiting for iPhone 2.0 or else video iPod. $600 is a good way to control demand... and the price can go lower while the features go higher... weeeeee!!


Jon Barto | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:54AM

iPhone is scheduled to launch in Asia early 2008. do cellphone networks in Asia use EDGE? No. do cellphone networks in Asia use 3G? Yes. QED.

The same goes for Europe. Assumingly a second generation iPhone is launced here too, with 3G instead of EDGE.


Sjaak Laan | Jul 13, 2007 | 2:15AM

@ BrainiacV

that is NOT a chip. that is a SIM card. - Have you heard of it? - What ever the reason for that logo is (maybe the SIM card is capable to be used in 3G cellphones), this current edition iPhone is NOT G capable and WON´T be 3G capable, unless you change a significant part of the internal HW.

matt | Jul 13, 2007 | 2:38AM


Here in the UK at least one network provider already has EDGE installed and I've read the likely winner of the iPhone contract can upgrade to EDGE by Christmas.

Don't know the situation in other EU countries though, but it seems they might think it worth while to invest in EDGE just to get that exclusive iPhone contract.

Steve Wooding | Jul 13, 2007 | 3:24AM

According to Apple's site Leopard is scheduled to be released in October, not September. Or is this another incorrect prediction in the the making? "Apple will ship OS 10.5 a month early!" Never going to happen. I predict it will be out on Halloween. Trick or treat?

Breached | Jul 13, 2007 | 3:30AM

Sjaak is spot on - you can't sell a phone anywhere else outside of North America, for the most part, that isn't 3G.

Who does Helio sub-license the 3G towers from? Helio has perhaps the broadest 3G support I've seen in the US, so it would be interesting to see who is supplying those towers... and if it's more than one vendor and how the roaming situation breaks down.

Would the non-replaceable battery be due to size constraints and the need to maximize the size of the battery?

The nano iPhone - who cares? From the sounds of it, it would be so crippled that it would be easy prey for a lot of the other phone vendors out there. I wouldn't risk bringing anything to market that had less features than the iPhone. I'd guess that what is being talked about is, in fact, the nano iPod with the iPhone form factor, since the product would look so similar to the iPhone that people would automatically confuse it for the phone, not the pod.

Would Apple consider selling the 3G only in Asia and Europe? Actually, Apple will have trouble offering the iPhone in Asia and Europe by years end - The phones there have a lot more capabilities, and the iPhone early announcement will give the competition a 12 month period to catch up, so the next iPhone will have to step up the competition.

Fun times...

Bob you should do a story about the iPhone in Canada and how we are never going to see it because there is only 1 GSM provider in all of Canada and their current data plan is either 3 or 4 cents per KB of data. That's right, they expect us to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to send a few GB of data. They mark up data rates so high that you could go bankrupt. It's our version of the US medical system.

Graham | Jul 13, 2007 | 3:44AM

Will Apple dribble out added iPhone features / applications / widgets whenever the sales volume starts to slip?

Sure, Apple is skilled at periodically stoking our techno-lust. They probably have product roll-outs planned out for a the next 2 or 3 years, with alternate scenario plans just in case a particular product bombs out.

USA cusomers are now Beta or, perhaps, Gamma testing iPhone 1.0. The Europeans & Japanese will be breaking in the 3G version. There may already be a Wi-Max (4G) version that could be introduced in a receptive compact country (Luxembourg?) that might bypass the entire cell phone oligarchy completely.

Roy | Jul 13, 2007 | 4:09AM

"If you run a company with the manufacturing clout of Apple and you have a device you are projecting will sell 10 million units in its first year then you can TELL chip manufacturers to make what you need and they do it."

Then why didn't Apple TELL the manufacturer to make a 3 GHz ARM CPU that consumes 1 Watt? Something just can't happen even if you have the money to buy it.

Sharpe | Jul 13, 2007 | 4:21AM

If I'm reading this chart correctly, Apple still relies heavily on holiday sales

Because there products are so pricey, for most people it only makes sense to get it as a gift (or at bonus getting time).

Dempsey | Jul 13, 2007 | 4:28AM

Agree with Sharpe. The thing you want done needs to be physically and commercially possible. For example: companies have been trying to make smaller and lighter notebooks for decades. You'd think Dell would just tell its suppliers that they need to make a 3 oz battery that lasts 24 hours...

Michael Long | Jul 13, 2007 | 5:16AM

Leopard was delayed until October and not September as you write.

Matic Bitenc | Jul 13, 2007 | 7:13AM

H.264 encoding hardware in Macs would be great. I'm sure the video card guys will go for it too, but only in their premium proucts, at least to start, but Apple doesn't offer premium graphics hardware in anything but Power Macs so they'll do the hardware integration themselves.

This will bringing Robert's 'Teleportation' prediction closer to coming true, with high resolution (maybe not quite HD) video chat becoming a basic Mac feature.

I don't believe that an iPhone Nano will come out for Christmass. They may well be testing hardware right now, but the lead time between early hardware testing and launch could easily be 6 to 9 months. Of course a swanky new video iPod must be a dead cert.

Simon Hibbs | Jul 13, 2007 | 9:05AM

Some of nVidia's video cards already has a CABAC engine in H/W. As CABAC is (currently) the most computationally expensive part of h.264 encoding, Apple is not that far away from offering H/W based H.264 encoding except it won't be via a separate h.264 chip

HD encoding is a different matter though....

Spencer | Jul 13, 2007 | 9:16AM

Bob wrote:
"I think a lot of this comes back to that 10 million unit sales estimate for the iPhone's first year. In its first year on the market, the original iPod sold less than one million units, total. The iPod was in its third year before sales even approached a 10 million unit run-rate. What this shows us is that the iPhone is an iPod and not some new category of device."

Not sure I agree with this thought, or I just don't understand what Bob meant by it. First and foremost, the iPod is a portable music player. Yes, folks have cobbled address book, note, and other applications together for it, and some even use it as a hard drive. But for me, and I believe a majority iPod users, the real utility of an iPod is being able to take all or a majority of your music collection where ever you go. A 4 or 8 Gb iPhone just doesn't fill that bill, and it's too expensive to leave wired into your glove box (yeah, I've got multiple iPods for multiple vehicles). If that's really the case, the iPhone needs to be examined in the context of how it plays against other cell phones, not against other iPods.

I also think it's too early to tell if the iPhone is going to meet predicted sales goals. Apple did a great job of meeting initial demand, but is that initial surge populated by the Apple faithful, or is demand more broad based? If the former, the feature/capability package of the current iPhone could have been almost anything and the faithful would have still snatched it up. To sustain long term sales, Apple will need to go toe-to-toe with established cell phone makers, and even PDA/phone suppliers, and demonstrate a superior blend of user friendliness and technical superiority.

That means high speed GSM networking, which apparently requires new hardware. If that's the case, why not address other shortcomings that only a hardware change can fix in the next generation? The current iPhone falls down when it comes to data entry: the keyboard may be nicer than those on competing products, but PDA users won't jump ship unless there's built in handwriting recognition. Apple has almost ignored data security in the iPhone: no built in encryption, no fingerprint reader, no seamless integration of security to take the pain out of using it. If I was RIM I'd be praying that Apple doesn't incorporate these small changes and clean their clock with superior interface design, ease of use, and network speed. The Mac never really caught on in the business world, but the Blackberry sure did, and the hardware enabled changes mentioned above would enable Apple to not only break into the business market, but dominate it. Once that happens, the halo effect would have those new iPhone users thinking about MacBook Pros that not only run one of the most trouble free operating systems on the planet, but also run Windows, natively if need be. Can you say halo effect, squared?

AppleJack | Jul 13, 2007 | 9:34AM

Hi Bob, though you now think that there is no 3G inside the current iPhone I am still not convinced, because the idea makes a lot of sense.

There have been a number of good and bad technical arguments in favor or against this idea. I want to summarize these arguments to help to find a reliable answer.

- If you have a phone with 2G hardware, you cannot make it a 3G phone with a software upgrade. Correct.
But what happens if you build 2G and 3G hardware in a phone and disable the 3G by software? You can easily enable it later with a software upgrade.

- It is proven by various reports/dissections that there is only 2G hardware in the iPhone.
Not for me. Can please anyone tell me a reliable report where the GSM chip is DEFINITELY identified. Some reports mix up 3G SIM cards with 3G chips,
some say it is 2G because it is reported on the internet (great!), some do not even find the chip. The chip itself has no easy to read product or manufacturer code print on it.
The best report I have seen is from, some folks who seem to have real experience in reverse engineering hardware.
They are quite sure that the chip is from Infineon and ASSUME that it is an Infineon S-GOLD®2 - PMB 8876 chip as the RF transeiver (maybe because it just has to be a 2G chip according to Apple).
But maybe it could be an S-GOLD®3H - PMB 8878 and that finally is an HSPDA,WCDMA and EDGE capable chip (and that one is even H.264 capable!). The downside is that the form factor on the Infineon web site and on the dissected iPhone photos are not the same

- The FCC approval does not say anything about 3G. That is a good one.
But, if you build a phone with 3G hardware and make it be 2G only by the software, do you require a FCC approval for only 2G or for the theoretically full capabilities? I assume the first, but do not know.
This means that another FCC approval would be required before enabling 3G, of course.

- 3G affects battery life. Correct. But with other 3G phones it is today by far not that bad as it was during the first days of 3G. And think of this idea: You phone with 2G and 3G will only be enabled when surfing the web (some clever strategy might be needed for downloading emails). The Infineon chip above allows power saving by disabling 3G when not needed.

- There is a 3G labeled SIM card in the iPhone. This means nothing, e.g. my provider (Vodadone in Germany) only gives you 3G capable SIM cards when buying a 2G or 3G phone for some time now.

- The used bandwidth for 3G is higher, so Apple and AT&T give you much more traffic for the same price.
No one says that the 3G upgrade is for free, they certainly get your money.

- To get off the ground in Europe and Asia you need 3G. Basically correct. But, Apple might try to compensate that with clever marketing, a second generation iPhone or maybe in other ways. You need to get into the brain of Steve Jobs, to answer that one precisely.

The crucial point is the second argument concerning the GSM/EDGE or GSM/EDGE/3G chip. If anyone can definitely answer that one, in my opinion, there would be no reason to discuss any further. And finally, my apologies for this long post.

Jobst-Hinrich Jacke | Jul 13, 2007 | 9:46AM

What about the iPhone shuffle?
The one that has no screen and just one button that randomly dials someone on your list?
Any info on that hot new item?

dustbunny44 | Jul 13, 2007 | 10:33AM

Cringely writes:

| a lot of this comes back to that

| 10 million unit sales estimate for

| the iPhone's first year.

Jobs stated very clearly that Apple's aim was to sell 10 million phones by the END of 2008. That gives a full 18 months from the launch date, not one year, for the goal to be achieved. However unlikely Apple is to need the time, six extra months are significant and a piece emphasising the importance of the original sales goal should really get that bit right before building on it.

Bahi | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:18PM

Yawn ... more about the iPhone Bob? I think this 3G discussion has been killed to death, maybe something a little more interesting next week? Please.

Scott | Jul 13, 2007 | 12:28PM

Yeah, Bob, what about One Laptop Per Child? Or all the sprouting startups focused on MMOGs? Or the business'fication of E3? Or the impact of China on piracy, OS's, silicon as a commodity, copper? Or the influx of Virtual Machine companies , , etc. Or...

Dave Cline | Jul 13, 2007 | 1:13PM

iPhone has WiFi - I wonder if AT&T/Apple will try and kill Vonage - simply have it VoIP on wifi networks, and a Cell phone other times - same number, just different routing...

Tim | Jul 13, 2007 | 3:25PM

"If you run a company with the manufacturing clout of Apple and you have a device you are projecting will sell 10 million units in its first year then you can TELL chip manufacturers to make what you need and they do it."

Really? Nokia sells 10 million cellphones in a week and a half. Shouldn't they be in an even better position to TELL chip manufacturers to make 3G chips cheaper and with lower power consumption?

Ten million cellphones in a year (let alone 18 months) is nothing in an industry where about a billion cellphones are sold a year. Even if you just look at "smartphones", somewhere north of 100M are expected to be sold in 2007 - 10M is not enough to push chip manufacturers around.

DG Lewis | Jul 13, 2007 | 4:12PM

The delay in the rollout of a 3G iPhone may be as much waiting on AT&T to build out its network and smooth out the performance kinks as it is an issue with Apple. Why restrict battery life and increase the size of the form factor (to manage heat) when 3G may not be available on a reliable basis in all the major and mid-major markets? iPhone may be the driver of the demand for 3G services on the AT&T network, but that demand, and the demand for iPhones might fizzle if the performance is inconsistent and finicky. Apple's great selling point is the experience, the whole experience, with its products. They need a guarantee from AT&T that the 3G network is capable of delivery Apple's customary level of performance and quality of experience.

BD Smith | Jul 13, 2007 | 5:57PM

Why did Apple go with edge rather than 3g? Simple, the user experience of the iPhone 1.0 is good enough to sell 10 million units by holidays 2008, when they will release iphone 2.0 with 3g, and sell 15 million units in the following 18 months.

Also, it seems the web browsing experience is extremely data intensive. Most people are downloading full sites, not some WAP alternative. If you promise 3g speeds then the massive bandwidth requirements melt down a 3g network, sounds like a PR nightmare and a terrible way to launch a product.

Greg Stratford | Jul 13, 2007 | 7:39PM

So what if Steve comes out with Leopard in the Fall and it includes some functionality that adds some features to the iPhone that "only work with Macintosh" until, say January "when our engineers get the Windows version updated."

Maybe a nice little bump in Mac sales? Steve always comes back to the Mac.

bbarrie | Jul 13, 2007 | 9:38PM
Tim | Jul 14, 2007 | 10:30AM

So if Apple's that big on H.264, why have they not yet rolled out support for AVCHD in iMovie? Most of the nice new HD cameras with stuff like DVD, HDD or Flash recording use AVCHD, and yet the biggest consumer-friendly app can't hack it? WEAK WEAK WEAK.

As far as 3G goes, one would think that T-Mobile would be a better partner for that, as they could have been a huge international launch partner, and they're probably closer to real 3G than AT&T in the US (let alone the rest of the planet).

Here's hoping iPhone turns AT&T (and eventually all other wireless providers) into dumb packet passers, which is what most users really want.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater | Jul 14, 2007 | 1:29PM

@Bahi: Actually, no, Steve did not say "10 million units by the end of 2008." I thought he did as well, but I went back recently to double-check.

In the iPhone introduction video, jump to 1:16:41:

"1% market share = 10 million units. This is a giant market. If you get just 1% market share, you're going to sell 10 million phones. And this is exactly what we're going to try to do in 2008, our first full year on the market."
The slide on the screen also shows "in 2008" (emphasis added).

Remember also that the real goal is 1% market share, which means 1% of the total sales over a fixed period of time. With one billion units in 2006 alone, the total units over 18 months would be substantially higher.

In the presentation, he used 2006 numbers, because that's what he had available. But if he really wants 1% of the market, it's going to be 1% of whatever the sales are in 2008, which I'm guessing will be more than the one billion units of 2006. It's going to be interesting.

Glenn | Jul 14, 2007 | 3:12PM

For some reason, when I think of the iPhone as the tip-top iPod (even if it has no more memory than my current Nano), the $500.00-600.00 price tag seems much more reasonable.

Problem is, I do not have any hypothetical desire to take a new iPhone to the sorts of places that I regularly use my iPod, e.g., the gym (all that sweat and dirt on the beautiful glass screen?), the trails (I'm always worrying the rain is going to ruin even my Nano, despite its silicon sleeve), the car (well, maybe the car would be OK for the iPhone--IF I could remember not to leave it there!); etc., etc.

For instance, my current Treo has, apparently, MP3 player software, but, (perhaps b/c of my iPod, but, still) I have _never_ used it, for many of the same reasons that I cite above as hypothetical arguments against the iPhone as a top-end iPod. So, I guess I'm not convinced that those two devices, smart phone et. al., and iPod, really do want to be together.

Just the same, I played around with an iPhone at my local AT&T shop a few days ago, and boy did my credit card want to come out for a run. If the iPhone had offered 3G access (the Treo doesn't have it), I'd have bought one then and there, in spite of myself.

Colin | Jul 14, 2007 | 10:35PM

Surely the iPhone has got to ship in Europe with 3G support? Most of our networks don't offer EDGE and the telcos have invested tens of billions in 3G support. iPhone sans 3G in Europe is DOA, it simply won't deliver what the user takes for granted from existing phones.

And I for one, will get a 3G iPhone; I just got my Nokia N95 wunderphone - and it sucks. Not only does it crash several times a day, but its shoddily built, horribly designed, sluggish and much of its functionality is frankly unusable. An iPhone around the same price offering 3G (like the N95) but which works - sign me up!

Mike Richards | Jul 15, 2007 | 3:32PM

Bob, even while admitting you were wrong on the 3G capabilities, you managed to provide here an even more BOGUS theory about Apple supposedly having the clout to tell chip manufacturers to make 3G (or whichever other miraculous) chips that won't use that much energy, or do everything and the kitchen sink... they'll probably, eventually, get there, but there's little that Apple or anybody else can dictate... there's only painstaking, progressive efforts which are going to get us there. Wouldn't it be nice if Apple could commandeer Intel into providing us with 6Ghz sextuple CPUs next January? Have you forgotten that Apple ditched IBM/Motorola PowerPCs precisely for a very similar reason, i.e. they could not provide faster chip revisions soon enough? Your columns are interesting reads but definitely the products of wishful flights of fantasy rather than reality.

Leonardo | Jul 16, 2007 | 2:05AM

you know what, I like Bob, cause Bob puts it out there, right or wrong. He is willing to stick it on the line.

I couldn't care less if Apple grabs up ten quadrillion passionate VW bug drivers who love their IMACPODPHONEs. What I care about is that someone is willing to be realistic about what this is alllllll about - Making Money from them. I honestly think that the Cult of Mac believes that Steve Jobs really cares about them and their superdeduper technological needs.

Its about the business, and thanks Bob, for being realistic about it.


foston | Jul 16, 2007 | 12:54PM

(Most) Macs already have hardware H.264 support. Any Mac with a discrete video card has H.264 support built in because all video cards have had the hardware to encode H.264 for a while. Even Intel's Integrated Graphics might have this ability, I'm not sure. However, I don't think that Apple would need to add a separate chip when the hardware is already inside the computers.

G | Jul 16, 2007 | 1:04PM

Bob, you wrote "Certainly I was wrong about my hopeful prediction that Apple had 3G hidden inside the current iPhone and could simply wake it up with a firmware change. The people who have been tearing their iPhones apart have confirmed that's not the situation. In my defense you'll note that I only said that I "hoped" this was the case, not willing to believe that even Steve Jobs would sell us $600 mobile phones and make them obsolete overnight."

Actually, you made a much stronger prediction than just saying you "hoped" the iPhone already had 3G capabilities. In your January 11th column, you wrote "I'm 100 percent convinced that all it would take to turn an EDGE iPhone into a 3G iPhone is a firmware upgrade, if that."

Mattt Enss | Jul 16, 2007 | 1:21PM

A 3G iPhone is inevitable, but Apple can't simply make it happen without sacrificing battery life. Apple is far from the only significant player who would want low power 3G or batteries with higher capacities per unit volume. If Apple could buy those, why not Nokia or Motorola or Samsung ? If it comes now it'll be because Apple need it for the markets they're chasing and the reduced battery life is a necessary price.

A cheaper iPhone "nano" doesn't seem likely in the near future. Unless Apple can come up with some distinct selling point that would not be compromised by the smaller size there's no point to it. They'd just be moving down into a more competitive market with a product that is not so much better than the competition. It may come - but only when Apple is ready.

A video iPod using iPhone technology makes a lot of sense - a video player would really benefit from maximising the screen size. So out of all the possible developments it's the one I'd expect first. It would need an HD, and it might or might not have Wi-Fi.

What I would speculate on is adding VOIP to the iPhone. That would be a nice upgrade and one that could be delivered in firmware. The only reason not to do it is that the cellular networks might unhappy with it (some have disabled VOIP in other Smartphones).

More speculative still is a tablet using multitouch technology. The tablet computer market has been a bit of a disaster area but maybe multitouch is the missing ingredient. It seems to me to be better suited to a tablet than it is to a desktop or conventional laptop. Maybe the rumoured "MacBook thin" will be a tablet. Or not.

Paul King | Jul 16, 2007 | 6:55PM


Current generation Macs (and all other computers that use the graphics cards you mention) have h.264 DECODING (not encoding). Robert is predicting that they will additionally get hardware ENcoding. big difference.

earthling | Jul 16, 2007 | 9:59PM

It was interesting how many people really wanted their old StarTac back.

Apple, take note.

John | Jul 16, 2007 | 11:09PM

Personally I don't think 3G is very likely. At least not soon. Apple's main target markets are probably the USA, Asia and Europe. Even-tough some of Europe's and Asia's countries have adopted 3G in a large scale the US hasn't. This lack of infrastructure in the US would make a 3G iPhone a political issue, which Steve Jobs wouldn't want to rub USA in the face. In a flatter world, a 3G iPhone will be fantastic since it brings you the power of search at your fingertip anywhere. My guess is in 7 years some Chinese company will imagine, design and create the next big 'iPhone' kind of thing backed of with Indian IT. By then the trust in Chinese products will be big enough, so they can throw the most advanced, most user-friendly device on the market Americans could have never even thought of and dominate the market. Sorry to be all pessimistic, but I think the 3G iPhone not happening soon is a political thing.

Tom | Jul 17, 2007 | 3:40PM

I think the lack of 3G is simply due to the lack of coverage in the US. Even iPhone buyers in covered areas often travel to places without 3G. Starting with EDGE means iPhones have data access in many, many more places.

Later (sooner?), Apple can release 3G iPhones for Europe, Asia, and the US, but many people won't be tempted because of AT&T's lacking coverage. They'll stick with their EDGE model until the network improves.

Apple can sell just as many, if not more iPhones now with EDGE than they could with 3G, and then get people to upgrade. Seems like a great strategy.

Daniel Morrison | Jul 17, 2007 | 4:14PM

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. There’s been a ton of speculation about the “real” reason why [pick your favorite iphone idiosycracy] was done the way it was. Perhaps I’m just naïve, but I just don’t see that there’s any reason to look very deep on a lot of these questions.

Why AT&T? Because Verizon’s doing just fine without Apple’s Iphone and probably wouldn’t play ball.

Why no 3G? Why add expense to provide 3G when AT&T doesn’t widely support it? Also, Apple’s iPods have a reputation for having lousy battery life. They’d be stupid to cement that perception by failing to ensure satisfactory battery life on the iPhone, which means extra power draw of 3G is bad, bad thing.

Why no replaceable battery – Because they care more about the design aesthetic than the potential consumer backlash at not being able to replace the battery. Personally, I think this one is a mistake, but it sure seems like typical Apple.

Why no 3rd party apps? This is the only one I think merits deeper consideration and I think the explanation that it’s Apple, and they don’t think they need to is probably a good first start. Everything about the iPhone suggests it’s being marketed more to my mom (who by the way is salivating over it) or my wife, and not to Cecile CEO or Gary the Geek. My mom does not care about Exchange Server compatibility and my wife doesn’t even know what Linux is. Do a few critical things well and make them simple. That’s what will make my mom and wife happy, and that’s what Apple does well.

IMHO | Jul 17, 2007 | 6:36PM

Apple is said to be planning a new keyboard with the next iMac, said to be announced in August. With a less than 2 in. thick, smaller-chinned iMac the keyboard too is said to be very thin and living room friendly.


Apple's keys have never really changed in 25 years and as the primary interface to the Mac experience, it's VERY long in the tooth. And Steve is said to have a distaste for tablet PCs. Add to this that Apple has patents for swappable laptop keyboards (e.g., remove the QWERTY board and replace it with a mini-mixing console or video editing stations) and the warm reception of the iPhone's gesture UI and - finally - recent rumors of a 'back-lit' trackpad, maybe Apple needs to build one more bridge from the iPhone (and soon-to-be video iPod) to the Mac.

Imagine a thin Apple keyboard that replaced the arrows, home/end and page up/down keys with a variant of the iPhone touch screen. First, a simple 'gesture' would pull them up as 'virtual keys', and them you could lose them for other interactive icons and controls. (A virtual click wheel would be nice.) Need more real-estate? Lose the keypad too! Bring gestures to the keyboard and move the experience WAYYYY forward.

It's a WHOLE lot more living room friendly than Microsoft's multi-thousand dollar Surface.

Jodeo | Jul 17, 2007 | 10:21PM

Apple is said to be planning a new keyboard with the next iMac, said to be announced in August. With a less than 2 in. thick, smaller-chinned iMac the keyboard too is said to be very thin and living room friendly.


Apple's keys have never really changed in 25 years and as the primary interface to the Mac experience, it's VERY long in the tooth. And Steve is said to have a distaste for tablet PCs. Add to this that Apple has patents for swappable laptop keyboards (e.g., remove the QWERTY board and replace it with a mini-mixing console or video editing stations) and the warm reception of the iPhone's gesture UI and - finally - recent rumors of a 'back-lit' trackpad, maybe Apple needs to build one more bridge from the iPhone (and soon-to-be video iPod) to the Mac.

Imagine a thin Apple keyboard that replaced the arrows, home/end and page up/down keys with a variant of the iPhone touch screen. First, a simple 'gesture' would pull them up as 'virtual keys', and them you could lose them for other interactive icons and controls. (A virtual click wheel would be nice.) Need more real-estate? Lose the keypad too! Bring gestures to the keyboard and move the experience WAYYYY forward.

It's a WHOLE lot more living room friendly than Microsoft's multi-thousand dollar Surface.

Jodeo | Jul 17, 2007 | 10:22PM

I usually read all the comments when the articles come out. I wince at some of the outrageous ignoramuses out there who display their mental acuity like a pair of dirty jocky undershorts waved at the end of a willow stick. But this is America.

I appreciate what I learn from almost all of the comments. Withough our bozo, we wouldn't have them collected together, would we?

PS. Bob. I once lived on Folly Beach and taught school in Ridgeville....long long ago.

edo river | Jul 19, 2007 | 2:20AM

You mentioned iChat. Let's up the "awesome" ante, and go for iChat AV. That's right, let the user switch which side of the iPhone the camera looks through, give the device a speakerphone (like most others have these days), and let iChat AV run over WiFi or any way it can, optimized for real-time streaming.

Then, you've got yourself a bona-fide portable video-phone. Nobody has anything near that, these days. Now what company would be crazy enough to make one of these and actually get it to work (not to mention be trusted by its user base to work out the kinks)? My bet is with Apple.

Or, perhaps this is just the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field at work ...

Trogdor | Jul 19, 2007 | 3:18PM

Sorry - you're way off base with your comments about 3G and the iphone. Wander over to and look their article on the issue. The 3G chipset is much larger that the Edge/Wifi one used in the iPhone. And with the aid of a Samsung unit (sorry can't remember the model) show just how big and impact the use of 3G can have on your battery life.

So Apple could of used the 3G chipset and had a larger phone and half the battery life - neither of which they wanted.

marc36au | Jul 19, 2007 | 11:10PM

>> Remember how Leopard was delayed from May until September with the excuse that programmers and >> QA people were being shifted temporarily to the iPhone? I'm still scratching my head over that one...

The fact that you can't seem to puzzle this one out speaks volumes about what is wrong with your column Bob. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading it. But you have clearly never developed software in your life. And the daily grind of software development is really crucial to everything you write about. Jesus... at least pick up a copy of "The Mythical Man Month." It's 30 year old wisdom on how to manage a software development project, but I'm guessing it will be news to you.

y? | Jul 22, 2007 | 1:00AM

Hey, for a company that still only accounts for less than 5% of worldwide PC sales and a small % of ,,,anything really, Apple has been getting a huge part of Your attention Bob this year! Just look at your archive!

For the rest of us, who arent really that keen on what Apple WANTS us all to talk about (ie Steve and what he is up to) can we get back to normal life now pleeeeease?

Alex CHalkidis | Jul 23, 2007 | 7:38PM