The next 60 days of iPhone.
So the news, or rather rumors around the blogosphere is of the impending launch of a 3G iPhone. Supposed to be in the next 60 days. While that wouldn’t surprise me, as WWDC is in 60 days from now, what interests me is what form the 3G iPhone would take. Will it remain physically identical to the current model, and only have the radio boosted to 3G? Will the phone have HSPA? More importantly, will the original carriers (AT&T, T-Mob, O2 etc) still have exclusive access to the device?
MY gut feeling is that the next iPhone will remain physically identical, to allow the industrial design to become as familiar as the iPod’s iconic scroll/click wheel. By changing the design, it becomes harder to create a simple-to-identify symbol. As far as the ‘inner tech’ of the phone goes, we can expect a 3.5G device with maybe a 5MP camera. Possibly GPS, although I am in two-minds on whether internal GPS is actually a good idea (compared to the ability to use a BT GPS dongle, which normally performs better than internal GPS) I don’t believe that Apple cares too much about these specs, because if they do start caring ‘too much’ then they are straying dangerously close to the endless hardware spec-races of companies like Nokia, SE etc. Look at Blackberry, they have happily lagged back on 2.5G networks for the past few years. Blackberry’s reputation is built on it’s software (primarily it’s email, and enterprise integration) and generally feels no need to get into a pissing match with other manufacturers on tech specs. I think Apple will follow the same direction generally, preferring to concentrate on the OS / UI as selling point (which is basically confirmed by Apple’s own TV adverts for the iPhone, showing only the UI interaction as the selling point).
Around various tech forums on the internets, there seems to be a belief that Apple should offer the new iPhone as a free upgrade for current owners and early adopters. NEWSFLASH: forget it. You will buy it, for full price and a 2 year extension of contract. Apple is not about to hand out it’s new tech for free. I also think Apple will keep the ‘exclusive’ carriers that it has now, partly because these carriers support the Visual Voicemail function of the iPhone. Apple still has no compelling reason to ‘free’ the iPhone from carriers, as evidence shows that people are still fighting tooth and nail to obtain the iPhone, which gives the device more perceived value to other carriers, and thusly giving Apple more power to ‘swing’ carriers into agreeing to Apple’s terms and conditions.
So, will I jump for the new iPhone if it is released in the next 2-3 months? That depends. If the new iPhone is just a bump to 3G then I don’t really care about it too much, as from my own trials 3G is not the ‘giant’ leap it seems to be. If it gets a >3.2MP camera, again I don’t really jump for joy. Now, if the current iPhone was not to get the 2.0 firmware, and it was only available on the new iPhone THEN I would jump. See, for me it’s all about the software and usability, stupid.