Thursday, January 14, 2010

Looking Forward to Apple Mobile in 2010

The iPhone 3GS has been out on the market for about seven months now and it's still going strong.  When Apple report its first quarter earning, I'm expecting more than 10 million units sold.  This number is on the higher end of what the clueless analysts on Wall Street are expecting.  A couple are expecting to see 11 million but I think that's high unlikely.

As for Macbooks, I think we'll be surprised by the number of Macs Apple will sell.

But that's all in the past.  It's 14 or 15 days into the new year.  What can we expect for the rest of the year.  We know Apple will be holding a special event on January 27th, the last Wednesday of the month.  The good bet is that Apple will be unveiling a new mobile devices that, I, along with the rest of the tech blog world, think is the fabled iTablet (or iSlate).

What's more certain is that there will be thirteen or so more days of insane rumors about it until the 27th.

There are a lot of rumors about the expected iPhone update.  The rumors, though I won't get into, are just as plentiful as those about the iTablet.  I have my own speculations and hopes for the 4th gen iPhone, I am trying really hard not to get ahead of myself and the reality of what Apple's past upgrade cycle is like, and the competitive mobile market.

I'm speculating that Apple will ship the new iPhone by mid-year like it always does with a spring update on the forthcoming iPhone OS update.  What kind of throw a wretch into this year's product cycle is the addition of the iTablet into the mix.  There is speculation that the dearth of iPhone OS update is due largely to the iTablet as it shares many of the new features with the upcoming iPhone and Apple simply want to make sure it doesn't tip its hand.

I think we'll see the end of the iPod Classic and a new era of touch-only iPods.  Only the nano and shuffle will survive the product transition.  The Touch will continue to be an phoneless iPhone.  Should the iTablet and iPhone gain a webcam, the Touch's popularity will simply explode among the younger consumers as it is likely to gain the same features as the iPhone.

Of course, Apple can make it more interesting for the mobile market to follow by introducing an iPod Touch with wireless connectivity via 3G networks.  Imagine using a Touch with data access only and communications will take place via voice or video.  Such a device can help usher in the beginning of the end of voice plans.

This is software for the iPhone, Mac, and iTablet comes into play.  I like to see Apple diminish the role of the traditional telephone number.  This can be done in two ways:
  • Video conferencing and voice chat through voice API built into OS X.  With the possibility of the Touch through 3G or Wi-Fi also gaining a webcam (the Touch already possess voice capability via the iPod headset).  Even if iChat doesn't make its way to i-devices, these API will allow app developers to include these features to the apps.  Imagine gaming while being able to talk to others.  
  • Google Voice works by swapping one phone number for another.  An useful feature but literally redundant in the mobile world.  I see Apple allow users to create ID (MobileMe users can use their login) and link it to their telephone numbers.  As more and more users start using their ID to communicate with each other and rely less on traditional phone numbers, we will begin to see the death of the ten-digit phone numbers.  I also see Google Voice adopt a similar ability with Google logins.  Apple will simply skip all the way to the final end.  I also see Apple, Google, and others adopt an industry standard for IM, voice, chat, and video communication.
About the Mac.  Multi-touch will see a greater role.  This is one area where I'm not as certain what Apple has in-stored for us.  Certainly, more multi-touch adoptions.  We might possible see a Tablet Mac but that is as far as I'm willing to speculate.

There can't be anything about mobile unless I talk about battery life.  This has always been Apple's weakness.  As much as I am used having a built-in battery into all my iPods, iPhone, and iPod Touch, I can quickly get used to an iPhone with a removable battery.  But that's not gonna happen.  So?

So, I am hoping Apple will dazzle us with another breakthrough that extends the battery life of its mobile products.  To put things into perspective, Nvidia's Tegra 2 chip (via Macrumors) allows 16 hours of HD video, 140 hours of music, and 1080p video.

I would expect the iTablet and the newest iPhone and Touch to exceed the current models.
  • I am hoping for 10-20% increase in battery life during real world use.  Music playing should be closer to 40 hours while Internet use should be closer to 8 hours on 3G and 12 hours on Wi-Fi.  I don't do much talking on the iPhone but increases in standby and talk time would be cool too.
  • For the iTablet, I would like to see upwards of 15 hours of Internet use, 15-18 hours of HD video, and 150-180 hours of music.  (I don't care much about 1080p display out.  That's what HDTV and Blu-Ray players are for.)
So, that's what I'm looking forward to from Apple in 2010 starting on January 27th.  Meanwhile, we can look forward to the daily spectacular Apple rumors to hold us over until then.

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