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Maggie Shiels

The Apple tease

  • Maggie Shiels
  • 14 May 08, 15:05 GMT

Apple is the master of the tease. Just when you are about to get bored with their unwillingness to reveal what they are doing, they come out with an announcement that entices but doesn't quite satisfy.

Their latest missive about the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, in San Francisco next month has just confirmed that Steve Jobs will be giving the keynote address and that yes he will be talking about their operating system OS X Leopard and, more alluringly, the iPhone.

iPhoneAt this year's WWDC it certainly seems that Apple is putting the iPhone centre stage. For the first time it will showcase sessions for mobile developers with in-depth sessions and hands-on labs to explore the capabilities of the iPhone 2.0 software.

But Apple media figures are stonewalling on whether or not Mr Jobs will actually be taking the wraps off a new 3G smartphone at the WWDC event.

Let's have a look at some of the signs that suggest there is a high probability factor that he will.

First up you can't get your hands on an iPhone for love nor money. Online in the UK and the States it seems supply has dried up. And last week O2, the iPhone provider in Britain, admitted it wasn't currently available on shop shelves and that customers may well have to hold out for the 3G version. Even in Mac shops in the States the iPhone has disappeared.

Also there have been copious hints over the previous months from the likes of AT&T's wireless chief Ralph de la Vega who said during a conference in April "Our integrated devices will be 3G devices in the not-too-distant future, and I mean months."

And let's also add into the mix the fact that the price of the 8GB iPhone was slashed by $169 (£85). Perhaps this was a way to get rid of old stock and persuade people to snag a bargain despite the fact the next generation phone is waiting in the wings.

The last thing Apple wants is everyone holding onto their money until the new shinier version of the iPhone is available. After all what company wants to be saddled with lagging sales as a result and a load of old stock nobody wants?

Apple is not alone in keeping information about updated products close to its chest.

But timing is everything.

Blackberry BoldConversely you don't want to be turning away customers with money to burn. They may well choose Apple's chief smartphone rival in the market the BlackBerry which this week launched its new 3G, wi-fi and GPS enabled Blackberry Bold.

And in a move to hang onto its lead over the iPhone, BlackBerry has just announced its partnering with Microsoft Windows Live to give users services like consumer email and instant messaging. This shifts the phone away from the buttoned up image of a business device and makes it more social and per chance hip.

Plenty of analysts are talking up the BlackBerry Bold and applauding the company's success at beating Apple to the punch with their new phone, but perhaps not unsurprisingly the guys over at MacDaily don't think that much of it. Chris Neher told me "The BlackBerry 9000 is a pathetic and sad attempt to hide an antique beneath iPhone veneer."

If Apple wants to make real inroads into mature 3G markets like Europe and Asia then it is going to need something with real bells and whistles to attract sales. And Steve Jobs will need these markets to succeed if he wants to achieve his stated aim of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of the year.

Oh and Mr Jobs if you think BlackBerry's Research in Motion is your main competitor, a word to the wise to look over your shoulder.

Microsoft is reportedly talking about controlling 40% of the smart phone market through Windows Mobile by 2012. So far 11 million devices carry the operating systems and the Redmond company is aiming for 20 million by the end of this year.

And let's not forget about Google's offering via Android.

So Steve no pressure then!

Oh and one other reason to believe the rumours swirling around the Valley that the new iPhone will make an appearance next month is that it will be one year old. Happy birthday.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    You have to remeber that has taken MS at least 5+ years to get 11million, whilst it will take Apple 12 months to achieve 10 million.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm sure the iPhone will have its "bells and whistles" - but what's going to make it special is that it's the only phone with a REAL operating system that anyone can port apps onto. The BlackBerry is way too proprietary and writing apps for it is difficult. Windows mobile is too detached from the varied hardware, so compatibilty issues arise. The iPhone uses APIs familier to all Mac developers, for that matter, most *unix coders. It's tied nicely to its hardware and the UI is miles ahead...

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm sure the guys at MacDaily will be hoping that the latest rumours of RIM's BlackBerry Thunder stays just that!

    A touchscreen BlackBerry may be just the thing to have Mr Jobs just a little worried about those confident sales predictions.

  • Comment number 4.

    The BBC iPlayer must have given a huge boost to the iPhone and the iTouch sales. As long as you're near a wi fi hot spot you can watch catch up TV with no drain on your hard drive space.

  • Comment number 5.

    Chris Neher's comment illustrates why no one takes Apple fanboys seriously. They talk like Steve Jobs invented the telephone - which of course everyone else is copying these days. How unoriginal and stupid of everyone else. Still, actually getting the BBC to take him even a little bit seriously, i suppose, was some kind of achievement.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think it would be naive to believe that apple wanted 100% of the mobile phone market with their second model.....

    Everyone is quick to jump on the Microsoft bandwagon, and if you remember back to when the iphone was launched, masses of people and reviewers claimed it would not reach its sales targets... but look what happened! these guys never own up and just say "hay, i got it wrong, its a great device esp for a first outing, well done apple".

    the second model when it is released will build on what a great phone they already have.

    2012!! hahah dont make me laugh, In microsoft terms that is 2020 at the earliest and even then everyone will down grade back to XP.

  • Comment number 7.

    Isn't the Blackberry supposed to ship in Q3? Seeing as the iPhone is already sold out, and the new one is probably going to be brought out in June, its not likely people are going to switch back to a Crackberry.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is this article meant only for the US market? Because I see no mention of Symbian!

    Symbian today holds the largest market share in smartphones worldwide (almost 70% consistently over the last 6 years), and is considered a giant in the smartphone industry.

    How then can this article leave out such an important player?

    iPhone, Blackberry and Microsoft may be fighting it out in the US, but smartphones (almost 200 million!) in the rest of the world are running on Symbian OS.

    Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft and Google have a long way to go to catch up with Symbian.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes, Symbian is a big player, but the software doesn't even come close to what Apple/RIM/Google are already offering! Developing on Symbian to do anything fancy is a pain, distribution channels are probably the worst in the industry. Nokia are doing OK with the Labs website, but all of that is for people who want to experiment with their device. Symbain devices, from Nokia and the like, are also no where near as stable or powerful as offerings from the 3 mentioned above...they crash, are slow and become unresponsive doing many common tasks.

  • Comment number 10.

    Apple have a way of gaining masses of free advertising and coverage. Even The BBC seems to be in on it now (evidently!)

    Where Maggie is based, in California, there are stacks of people, who literally blog or podcast about EVERY Apple rumour, every potential Apple announcement and every Apple event.

    By the time an Apple event happens, the free marketing machine has usually whipped Apple fans into a frenzy. A year ago, this free exposure managed to persuade intelligent people to go out, stand in a queue for hours and pay a fortune for a locked down, last generation phone!

    Their reward?
    The price dropped like a stone within no time and then Apple tried to 'brick' or kill their phones if they wanted to customise it or use a different carrier!


    Oh man,

    Jim Connolly
    The Ideas Blog

  • Comment number 11.

    Great blog post. Can't wait until the new iPhone is released (never owned or used the original).

    Apple are incredibly good at building brand loyalty and awareness etc. The amount of hype and discussion the iPhone has had is amazing.

  • Comment number 12.

    abhimittal wrote:
    "Yes, Symbian is a big player, but the software doesn't even come close to what Apple/RIM/Google are already offering! "

    I beg to differ. Lets see what each one is offering individually:

    Apple:
    A phone with absolutely no real 'smartphone' features, but a great user experience and a fantastic user interface. The phone is not stable by any standards and crashes quite often.

    RIM:
    Push email, and thats all. Everything else has nothing 'smart' about it. In fact, you can't even develop any applications on a Blackberry.

    Google:
    Its too early to see what Google is offering. But from what I ave seen so far, the OS is still in its early stages and has no maturity. Google are having problems deciding how 'open' they want the OS to be, and what exactly should be made part of the SDK. They are still a long way from delivering a phone.

    Symbian:
    Fully featured smartphone, in all senses of the word. Push email, excellent multimedia capabilities, games, and bascially very powerful phones.
    I agree however that the user experience needs to improve, but the quality has improved significanlty. I have a N82 for 5 months now and it hasn't crashed even once. Neither did my E61 before that. And the user experience is great as well.

    Also, yes, developing applications for Symbian can be rather painful, but we haven't seen offerings from the other OS's to make a judgment right now.

    Numbers speak volumes! 200 million phones sold worldwide... there is a good reason for that!

    I think Maggie Shiels should look further than just the US market if she wants a true picture of the mobile OS industry.

  • Comment number 13.

    Great comments!

    'Londonitis'
    If you blog, can you let me know where; as I really enjoy reading your comments. If you don't already blog - START!

    Maggie
    I know you are based in 'The Valley' but it would be great if you could give us a more UK or European 'take' on what's happening.

    We have people like; Leo Laporte, Natali Del Conte, Cali Lewis, Scoble and Patrick Norton etc - who already give us great tech news, from a U.S perspective.


    Jim Connolly
    www.theideasblog.com

  • Comment number 14.

    "The BlackBerry 9000 is a pathetic and sad attempt to hide an antique beneath iPhone veneer."

    .. a bit like the iPhone then.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'd rather have the Blackberry!

  • Comment number 16.

    @londonitis, #12 - you can develop apps for the Blackberry. It runs JavaME so loads of apps for other phones run on it. Do a quick search and you'll see thousands of applications.

  • Comment number 17.

    OK... I am a Huge Apple Fan. Apple Computer... Ipods... Laptops... But Apple will really have there work cut out for them with the release of the Android. I mean all computer nerds/ gadget geeks would love to have this phone! it is A) open source B) Great built in features C) probably gonna be a lot cheaper. I am still debating which one I am going to buy...

  • Comment number 18.

    londonitis wrote:

    "Symbian: Fully featured smartphone, in all senses of the word. Push email, excellent multimedia capabilities, games, and bascially very powerful phones....".

    You don't need to be Nostradamus to see that the future is a convergence device that is an extension of your desktop PC - a 'computer in your pocket' on which you can run the same apps. as on your PC.

    These devices will be running Windows, OS X or Linux NOT Symbian.

    Apple is already taking a step toward this with their post-SDK 'iPhone 2'.

    Symbian is great as a niche OS for mobile phones, but it has little or no future in the world of convergence devices.

  • Comment number 19.

    The iPhone's market penetration will suffer dramatically until the price of the device is brought in line with its competitiors, especially considering the age of the technology under the iPhone's hood. The UI is not worth the cost of the phone, and until they understand the European mobile phone market isn't, and will never be accustomed to paying £300 for a phone as well as a £35 minimum contract, and being locked to one network with our choice of handsets. Until Apple work this out, The iPhone, particularly in Europe will just be niche.

  • Comment number 20.

    @londonitis:

    I do not agree with the lack of credit you have given Apple/RIM. The multimedia abilities of iPhone outstrip anything on Symbian S60...I have an N95 8GB and it takes around 3-4 Mins to load up my music library and scrolling through it is difficult! Photo's take about just as long to load/view. Apple's iPod function on iPhone is much better, as is the photo viewer.

    The YouTube implementation on Symbian is pathetic.

    The iPhone 2.0 gives Push-Email and other corporate features. RIM's approach of let's route everything through special servers is a bad one. As someone who regularly consults on network setups, RIMs method is expensive and leaves much of the system out of the user's control. Microsoft/Apples method of direct link to the phone is neat, simple, cheap and leaves third parties out of it. Not to mention RIM's recent downtime problems have left every BlackBerry in the world useless for periods of half-days at a time!

    The Google maps on iPhone is much nicer than on Symbian, though I would that down to screen size more than anything else.

    Games are coming to iPhone, and look fantastic.

    Perhaps I should have qualified my comments by saying I am writing more with the iPhone 2/3G/Black (whatever you want to call it) in mind...

  • Comment number 21.

    The YouTube application on Symbian phones is anything but pathetic. I'm assuming you are referring to the web based interface, and not the app that you can download from Google.

  • Comment number 22.

    'The multimedia abilities of iPhone outstrip anything on Symbian S60'

    Really? The iPhone can now record video? The iPhone can now stream live video to the internet? I don't think so.

    A blog written by someone in America, for an american audience,with the usual Amercian myopic perspective. All paid for with my license fee. wonderful.

  • Comment number 23.

    OK, this discussion is moving more towards the technical capabilities of the various OS's available.

    My original comment was intended to get Maggie to re-align her views with the rest of the world's, and not just those of North America.

    However, I will attempt to respond to each of the above comments, now that this discussion is heating up!

    @ TerenceEden:
    I meant 'native' applications, not Java ones. Java apps can be written for any platform, including the not-so-smart proprietary ones offered by all handset manufacturers. These apps are, slow (being Java), and are not capable of using the phones' powerful features.
    In a sentence, Blackberry is not an open platform.

    @JoeARP :
    It may not take a Nostradamus that the future of mobile is a convergence device, but it certainly does not take a rocket scientist to also figure out that PC apps cannot run on a phone as is. Mobiles are constrained when it comes to memory and processor speeds. You PC application doesn't really care that much about memory.
    Having said that, there are loads of PC apps that have been written for Symbian devices, just like various Windows apps have been written for Mac. Symbian is just another platform, so all apps can be ported using Symbian's native API's, and now even POSIX C API's.
    Convergence means merging of all devices into one, i.e. camera, music player, organiser, etc. and of course the phone, to provide mobile computing. Just because desktop PC's run Windows/Mac/Linux, doesn't mean all mobiles should do so as well. This is in fact one of the reasons Symbian was created by the handset manufacturers.

    @abhimittal:
    I gave credit where it was due. Symbian's multimedia is much more powerful than Apple's, and especially RIM's. There is nothing special about the iPhone’s music quality. In fact, the N95's music quality is far better. With the release of Dolby Surround on Symbian OS, this will widen the gap even further.
    Symbian OS phones have better camera's that Apple's/RIM's
    NGage brings a whole new level of game playing on Symbian.
    Symbian phones can record videos @30 fps!

    What you talk about is performance (photos taking time to load) and user experience (iPod viewer), both of which I am sure are being addressed by Symbian. In fact, have you tried the N95 with demand paging? I am sure you will change your mind about Symbian's performance.
    Push email you ask? Symbian supports both Blackberry Push email as well as Microsoft's ActiveSync, the choice is entirely yours! If Apple has invented a new way to do Push email, then I am not aware of it.

    Let me clarify something here. I like the Blackberry for what it gives, Push email.
    I like the iPhone for what it gives, user experience, and I admit, for most users around the world, that is enough to swing them towards an iPhone.
    However, under that shiny hood lies a not-so-powerful OS, yet. I must admit, I don’t know what new features (beside the obvious 3G etc. ) will the iPhone 2.0 bring.

    And finally, @JimConnolly : Thank you. No, I don't blog, but I will definitely take your advice! :o)

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh, and I think I should add here that S60 is releasing a browser that can run embedded flash videos, just like your desktop browsers. You won't need an app to run youtube anymore.

  • Comment number 25.

    @londonitis:

    Camera and sound quality, memory, etc. All of these are phone features, and have little to do with the OS.
    Music quality is down to how good the speakers are, pictures down to how good the lens is, etc. These can vary wildly between phones running on the same OS.


    @Maggie:

    I agree with the posters above... I was baffled by your omission of Symbian in the article. It's like talking about the future of supermarkets and not mentioning Tesco.

  • Comment number 26.

    londonitis wrote:

    "Just because desktop PC's run Windows/Mac/Linux, doesn't mean all mobiles should do so as well. This is in fact one of the reasons Symbian was created by the handset manufacturers".

    Symbian was created because mobile phones were too primitive to use anything else at the time.

    "Mobiles are constrained when it comes to memory and processor speeds."

    The iPhone has a very good processor and the new one will likely have a 32GB option - sounds plenty to me.

    "Having said that, there are loads of PC apps that have been written for Symbian devices, just like various Windows apps have been written for Mac. Symbian is just another platform, so all apps can be ported using Symbian's native API's, and now even POSIX C API's".

    I was talking about future devices actually running Windows etc. Are you seriously suggesting the Symbian OS is as powerful and well-crafted as an OS in its own right as Windows, OS X or Linux??

    And "However, under that shiny hood lies a not-so-powerful OS, yet. I must admit, I don?t know"

    The iPhone is running OS X with the same APIs but a different UI. Again, are you really suggesting Symbian is better than OS X? If so, why isn't it the choice for portable computing?

    You also seem to be ignorant of the post-SDk features - Google them and I think you might have a slight rethink!

  • Comment number 27.

    The future "smartphone" will actually be a dumb client. Because - if in the future all of my media, my data and my applications reside in the cloud, then whoever gives me the ability to sync my desktop with my smartphone by the slickest method will prevail.

    This will probably be Apple but it might (also) be MS. Apple right now has the best browser, which is also it's future gateway to the cloud, but I suspect MS is sufficiently competent at building a better browser for a mobile and if needs be a whole new mobile OS from scratch as well if it has to (it does!).

    For most users Apple will always signify mobile multimedia, Web 2.0, TV. And MS will always mean Office Apps primarily.

    Yet if Apple is ahead on the browser, Google is way ahead on the Cloud I sense.

    I think they will all (incl RIM / Symbian) survive and serve their various purposes, yet no single entity will dominate entirely.

  • Comment number 28.

    Very, poor punctuation!

  • Comment number 29.

    @ThingusonaSpringus Er... the S60 comment was from a reader not from Maggie.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ThingusOnASpringus/londonitis

    Granted, the current iPhone is quite poor on features (hence I cling onto my N95), but:

    > The extended features you mention can all be done via software updates and I'm sure will in June along with release of iPhone 2. I should point out that Symbian have a policy not to release new features by free software updates! They make you buy a new phone to recover their costs.

    > As admitted and reinforced by JoeARP, I am making heavy reference to iPhone 3G (expected June), and that's what's going to compete with the Blackberry Bold seeing as that's just out too.

  • Comment number 31.

    @londonitus (26)

    The thing you're ignoring is that Symbian IS "the choice for portable computing," at the very least in the mobile realm. Nokia sold more than 70 million smartphones in 2007 alone according to Canalyst, and Apple is still working on achieving 10 million?! It's a drop in the pond.

    This article is very obviously written from America where RIM does dominate the market with a 41% share to Apple's 28% (Canalyst).

    But I don't think this article is rightly posted within the context of a European and global news agency like the BBC as the picture in both those markets is MUCH different. Symbian nails a 67% market share globally with Windows Mobile at 13% and RIM at 11%. Apple barely registers...

    To be honest, as a European I would never consider purchasing an iPhone because it is so feature-poor. The only thing it's got going for is the UI, but I'd take my N95 over a first run iPhone any day. While the UI is not as good as the iPhone, just about everything else is. I don't find it too slow at all and enjoy using it. I think it's funny to only just now hear about companies pumping out features like GPS, 3G and 5MP cameras in phones as I've been walking around with these features in my pocket for over a year and loving them.

    The jury's still out on the second run iPhone, but it better seriously up the ante on feature-set or else I'll be holding out for the next flagship Nokia, the N96, which we'll see here in Europe later this summer.

  • Comment number 32.


    Pardon me, I just realised my last comment should have been directed at JoeARP (#26), not Londonitus.

    I agree with Londonitus 100% that any debate around smartphones in any place other than the US cannot really be valid without considering Symbian, which is by far the dominant global player.

  • Comment number 33.

    @quanneur

    You mention how Symbian has a missive market share globally, but I think you should only compare the N95's market share, no? Most Symbian devices are much lower cost/feature-set and not comparable to the BlackBerry Bold/Up-coming iPhone etc.

  • Comment number 34.

    Interesting debate, but I agree with BrownSource the future in in the cloud computing, which will undoubtedly be taking center stage in the years to come.
    Microsoft and Google are way ahead of any one else in this field, both have already got much of the infrastructure their and are both in a race with the software, with google slightly leading at the moment. Apple I have not herd anything from them about cloud computing yet. Amazon who are currently offering cloud computer may also be in position to expand its offering to mobile in some form.

    As to symbian it the most widely used. The key their survival will be in whether they can keep up with current technologies with all the big boys diving in, and from looking around Symbian seem to have the widest selection of Apps around.
    Google android seem to be most interest, being built from scratch , it could potential offer the best experience out their for connecting to the cloud and the web. And if they manage to keep to it open source the apps that will be available will be huge. And I still reckon the Android is just the beginning of Google operating systems venture with desktop computing coming around next, obviously tightly integrated with the android operating system.

  • Comment number 35.

    @abhimittal

    Sorry but my N73 (which is now quite an old phone) can record video and can play music in formats which the iPod still does not support. It also has a far superior camera to either the iPhone or the blackberry and allows you to upload your photos directly to flickr.

    As it is also has 3G it can quite happily play internet audio or video streams. And before you mention wifi, I'd like to see you try to listening to internet radio via wifi as you take a train journey, or just leave Starbucks and walk down the street.

  • Comment number 36.

    What shall i get? Iphone or wait for the blackberry bold?

  • Comment number 37.

    @Maggie:
    Perhaps in the future you could explicitely mention which regional market your blog is aimed at. BBC is a global news portal, and US-centric blogs such as these are misleading for customers and technologists around the world.

    Alternatively, you could perhaps expand your research to non-US markets and write a more balanced view on the mobile industry.

    @JoeARP:
    I am not trying to say that Symbian is more powerful than OS X. That would be like comparing apples with oranges, in a way. Symbian was designed from the bottom-up specially for mobile phones, where processor speed and memory (and I mean RAM, not flash memory!) are limited as compared to in desktops. Desktops are a differnt kind of cheese.

    If you looked inside an iPhone, I am sure you would find a rather dumbed down version of the OS X, which wasn't originally designed for mobile phones.
    Suggesting that for smartphones to achieve convergence they need to run dumbed down versions of desktop operating systems, is a very naive and dangerous view of technology, and one that restricts innovation.
    as 'quanneur' said above, Symbian IS the current choice for mobile computing.

    @BrownSource:
    I like your idea of a smartphone being a dumb client, which builds its 'smartness' through features requested by the user. However, I would not like to see smartphones being dependent on desktops. I see smartphones as being the most ultra form of mobile computing that would compliment desktop computers but not be tied to them.

    Also, if MS could build the best mobile browser, it would have by now! ;o)

    @Yorkshirespur!! :
    Wait for a N96. You might be pleasantly surprised!

  • Comment number 38.

    Cheers Londonitis, I like the look of the blackberry bold but i will wait for the N96 to see what it looks like, Do you know when this is due to be released?

 

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