updated 03:10 pm EDT, Thu May 7, 2009
Apple 3G in Snow Leopard
Apple is building in support for internal 3G hardware into Mac OS X Snow Leopard, a leak suggests. While it's typical for Apple to have drivers for certain 3rd-party 3G adapters with the OS, AppleInsider shows a WWAN (wireless wide-area network) entry in System Profiler, which typically shows only the hardware that Apple includes with systems itself. The move implies that Apple plans to make 3G a factory option, likely internally, for one or more of its computers.
Evidence exists both for and against the addition of cellular data access with MacBooks and other systems from Apple. In 2008, company co-founder Steve Jobs said Apple had considered the idea but dismissed it as it would likely trap the company's systems into supporting WWAN access only on one carrier. Just this month, however, a communications QA engineer job listing put out a request for 3G expertise and implied that devices would be tested sometime in the relatively near future. That listing has been conspicuously removed since the story broke earlier this week.
Rumors have also circulated for a long time of a tablet-like device that, last last month, was claimed to be headed to Verizon; it wouldn't be a phone and would therefore need 3G or (if released in 2010) 4G to get online and potentially place calls.
Compared to rivals, Apple has trailed behind in offering 3G data; Dell, HP and others regularly offer options for notebooks with internal 3G through AT&T, Sprint and Verizon but haven't been matched by Apple. The creation of chipsets like Qualcomm's Gobi are believed to help soften this worry by supporting both EVDO-based 3G (for CDMA phone networks) and HSPA (for GSM and pure HSPA networks).