So a 3G iPhone set for release sometime this year is more or less a no-brainer - personally I'm betting on an April/May announcement with a ship date to roughly coincide with the one year anniversary of iPhone's launch last June. What's less certain, and perhaps more interesting, is what other products Apple might build with integrated mobile broadband once they've figured out a low-power, low-volume solution packing 3G compatibility into their radio chips.
David Sieger claims to have insight into the matter and sources to back the claims made in his January 29 post over on Eye on Apple regarding "Apple's Upcoming [Wireless Capable] Portable." Sieger combines a few known quantities - the forthcoming iPhone/iPod Touch SDK, Intel's new ultraportable-friendly Silverthorne processor - with some talk about component suppliers and tips from his purported sources and comes up with a conclusion: Apple is readying a 3G and WiFi-capable handheld device, most likely with a 5.2" multitouch display, that will run on the iPhone/Touch platform.
As Sieger puts it, "Based on what we know to date, the mysterious device resembles less an Ultra Mobile Mac and more an upper model iPhone or a more capable next gen iPod Touch. In other words, the portable's hardware seem to suggest not a fully capable and portable Mac but a device which depends heavily on wireless connectivity. Likely it's Apple's version of the Intel MID ( Mobile Internet Device ) showcased at CES ?08."
A rumor about a bigger-than-iPhone, smaller-than-MacBook Apple device is nothing new, and Siger could simply be regurgitating old news in order to capitalize on the collective disappointment of Apple fans who were hoping for some sort of Tablet Mac at MacWorld a few weeks ago. But, hey, he claims he's got sources and Apple has gone on record as referring to the iPod Touch as a "mainstream, WiFi, mobile platform." So Steve Jobs and Co. certainly must have a few variations on the ultraportable/tablet theme up their sleeves already - the mystery really centers on whether or not anything's going to make it out of R&D and onto retail shelves, and when?
While the dream of a WiMax-enabled Apple handheld is a sweet one, don't bet on it. Apple likes to adopt and reinvent technologies once they've already proven themselves in the marketplace - iPod wasn't the first mp3 player out there, but rather the first one to really go mainstream with a new bit of tech already being embraced by early adopters. So while Apple's gotta be prepping something with 3G built-in - be it a new iPhone, a slightly larger handheld device, or both - I wouldn't expect them to be first in line to release a XOHM-ready tablet computer if/when Sprint rolls out their WiMax network nationwide.
Still, an overgrown iPhone with a bigger multitouch screen, a little more horsepower and HSDPA sounds like a nice treat for later this year, right? Sieger mentions that FCC approval for a device like this would take around six months, and that Apple would likely want to announce such a product before it could be "leaked" via filings showing up on the FCC website (remember how iPhone was announced six months before it shipped?). So if there is something in the works for 2008, we should be hearing about it from the horse's mouth before too long.
Read the full post at Eye on Apple from here.