updated 08:40 pm EST, Thu February 17, 2011
New rumor rules out small iPhone
An unusual turn has seen an opposing rumor cast doubt on talk of a miniature iPhone. The company is reportedly too focused on making a direct sequel to its full-size model. A smaller version had so far been ruled out as it would be harder to use and, despite assumptions, wouldn't necessarily be any less expensive, the NYT heard.
A device known as N97 that some had suspected was a future model was just the Verizon iPhone.
The company is also reportedly keen to avoid any further app platform fragmentation, an issue that it has criticized with Android. Apple already has three separate app resolutions and deliberately kept the resolution on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch exactly four times larger than on the older models so that older apps would scale perfectly.
Attempts to lower the price, however, were still active. A long-serving iPhone team member told the newspaper that it would likely focus on familiar techniques to lower the price, such as reducing the capacity or lowering the camera resolution. In the past, Apple has carried over last year's model at a lower price; last year, it also halved the capacity to 8GB, a trick that helped it slash the price down to $49 at the start of this year.
The move would likely be meant to improve Apple's standing in China and other countries where prepaid phones are common. iPhones have been the most successful in North America, Europe and Japan, where customers either get a device on contract or get it subsidized by agreeing to a monthly subscription at a minimum rate.
Few details were gleaned about the new iPhone, but the paper supported the WSJ's earlier claims that Apple would counter Google's voice command support. Likely taking advantage of its Siri deal, it would respond to Voice Actions in Android with much wider support of voice commands. Voice Control has been a feature of the iPhone ever since the 3GS in June 2009, but it has been limited to basic tasks like music playback or phone calls. Android users can not only control more apps but perform web searches and dictate e-mail or text messages.
The same sources likewise supported beliefs that MobileMe would become a free and much more advanced service than it is today. It would sync music, photos and other content online and could be vital to have devices like the iPad work independently of a computer for backup. One of the sources unintentionally likened it to Google's long-term strategy, which would let users have access to all their content in the cloud.
"The goal is that your photos and other media content will eventually just sync across all your Apple devices without people having to do anything," the contact said.
Google has made clear its plans to shift media to the Internet but has had mixed performance. Its plans to expand YouTube to become a full-fledged movie service have been publicly confirmed and are nearing fruition, but its Google Music service has been plagued by delays. It may be getting closer as Motorola chief Sanjay Jha inadvertently said the store, which could include its own media locker, might be ready in time with Android 3.0, which ships with the Xoom tablet in just a few weeks.