Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts on iPhone 1.1.3, Macworld, 3G and business users

Reports indicate the the 1.1.3 update is likely to ship before MacWorld in January, it includes an update to Google Maps that adds the same location feature as recently shipped on other non-GPS platforms (basically locating to the nearest cell-tower). It also provides mechanisms to select and arrange the applications installed on the iPhone. This is a key new feature, since the iPhone has been updated by Apple as a monolithic all-or-nothing set of applications so far. It greatly reduces the need to hack into the iPhone to customize it.

The updates themselves are fairly small, and to me it makes sense to get them installed before MacWorld. We will then see announcements at MacWorld of a set of optional applications that users can pick and choose to install on their iPhones. This could include the ability to add the Mail application and other "missing" iPhone apps to the iPod Touch. It could include brand new applications (I'm going to nominate iChat as a candidate yet again...). The public announcement of the SDK is due at MacWorld, with shipping in February, which will open up anyone to build officially sanctioned applications. However key vendors will have been testing the SDK over the last few months so I expect a bunch of third party applications to be announced or ready to ship at MacWorld.

The other leaks and rumors indicate that there is likely to be a second generation iPhone with 3G support shipping in the spring, and announced at MacWorld. This would also support launching the iPhone in Asian markets like Japan, where there is no GSM support.

I also expect that Apple will start to make moves towards business use of the iPhone, with some tools and upgrades provided by Apple, and others by key third parties.

I currently carry a Verizon Blackberry 8703e for work use, and my iPhone for personal use and iPod functionality. In order to use the iPhone as my work phone I need a few key features.

  • Firewall support - the BB is inside the corporate firewall, the iPhone can't access it. We use Juniper Network Connect which is a Java based VPN solution on MacOS/XP.
  • WiFi support - we use LEAP to login to WiFi at work, need support for LEAP on iPhone, it works fine on my MacOS X laptop, should be a simple feature to add.
  • Exchange support - I can't use the IMAP workaround due to firewall issues, properly integrated Exchange email and calendar support is what everyone is asking for.
  • Ideally RIM will port the Blackberry application suite to the iPhone, like they did for the Treo...
The two other biggest missing features are Flash and Java support. I know there are lots of issues with CPU/memory/battery life. Perhaps the next generation iPhone will be based on a more advanced ARM CPU (e.g. the ARM Cortex based Qualcomm Scorpion) with more performance and more memory so it can run Flash and Java apps alongside the existing apps?

We'll find out in a few weeks...
Happy new year.

4 comments:

  1. The CPU in the iPhone seems like it's Samsung's to lose. Apple and Samsung are snuggly nestled in bed together for both the CPU and flash parts in iPods & iPhones. I think it'd be pretty unlikely that Apple'd switch to a different ARM chip unless Samsung really f-ed things up.

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  2. Oh yeah, one other thing which occurred to me. Apple probably sold a bunch of iPhones in the run-up to Christmas. MacWorld, being in the middle of January, will be too close to the 30-day product return window required by many state laws, so apple is unlikely to announce the 3G iPhone yet, for fear of having a huge number of Christmas iPhones returned. I would bet that they'll wait until at least February to announce the 3G iPhone.

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  3. We would also have seen the new phone coming through the FCC approval process already. More likely they will not announce anything, or do the same release as iphone v.1 with an announcement of shipping in 6 months.

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  4. Hi guys, thanks for the comments. I expect that Samsung will be tracking the ARM reference designs, so at some point they may also have a Cortex based system, or at least one with more performance than the current hardware.

    On timing, I think Apple will announce in January and make us wait until at least March, maybe May. This way the FCC testing is in public. The Xmas market can't return the device for an exchange until there is a shipping product to exchange to.

    We will see....

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