Friday, March 13, 2009

Apple raising the bar

The guys at Apple are setting things up nicely: first, they had Palm go out with the Pre announcement and all the noise the WebOS generated. Then they had Google sort-of announce that the G1 is coming out with a new Android version in a month.

Now they are ready to raise the bar. When everyone has shown their cards, they will come out with something probably awesome, and have everyone else scramble to catch up. They are magicians at this. They could have released something new for the iPhone in a while: think about it, the iPhone 3G was just a minor upgrade, nothing really new came out from them on the iPhone front since that magic January 2007 (that's over two years ago...). There was no reason to do it. Now there is. Time to punch.

Next Tuesday, on March 17th, Apple will announce the iPhone 3.0.
What will be in it? Well, let me try to categorize my guesses.

  1. Copy & Paste. No questions on this one. You do not want people to migrate to other platforms for a stupid missing feature. Even if they are just geeks and business people.
  2. MMS. If you live in the US, you probably never heard of this one. Believe me, it is quite big in Europe and you can't sell a phone without it (unless you are Apple, but it is wise to add it anyway...)
  3. Calendar API access from the SDK. Ok, this is a small feature, but it would allow us to finally support sync of calendars on an iPhone. That would be nice, since it is the #1 request I am hearing when I travel around and I always have to explain that it is not my fault, but Apple's.
  4. A Task application. Yep, it is missing in the iPhone. Time to add it.
  5. Push support. Not the one that actually makes sense (for that you need multithreading support, see below), but the one Steve Jobs announced almost a year ago for last September and never delivered. A crappy push, but at least some push. Unless they go for multi-thread, which has its complications, as you can see below.
  1. Tethering to your PC. I just do not think this is going to make it, unless AT&T is allowed to come up with a specific additional plan attached to it. If not, they will prevent Apple to do it. No carrier will like it overseas as well (tethering to a PC means a lot of traffic, and they all have caps on data usage in Europe. You would think the carriers would be happy that you go over your data quota, but the cost to answer the phone when pissed customers are calling is too high. It does not make good business sense). Apple has learned they have to work with carriers to succeed in this market, so this happens only with them in agreement.
  2. Flash support. Apple wants to control the development environment, so they have not allowed Flash so far. But with the App Store so big, I feel Flash would be a second citizen anyway. The time to get Flash in has arrived, I believe.
  3. Multi-thread support and real push. The Pre has it. Apple can't allow them to steal the show. The new iPhone OS must allow more than one app to run in the background. The issue? Battery life. How do you solve this? With a new HW, which leads to the next item.
  4. A new iPhone. Gasp. What? Well, why not? They pre-announced the first iPhone to steal the thunder. They could do the same now. Palm is coming out with something cool, they announce a new iPhone coming out in June, show the OS now and have everyone wait for it (hurting Palm badly). It makes sense to me...
  5. A very cool wireless charger. The Pre has it, do you want them to be the only ones? Clearly, this requires a new device as well.
  1. An iPhone-based netbook. I actually bet on this months ago and most people said I was an idiot (I am used to that ;-) However, I am a persistent idiot, so I think it will actually happen one day. That day might be next Tuesday: netbooks are the only category of laptops that are growing at a fast rate. Apple is the king of high-end laptops. They can be the king of high-end netbooks as well (at $499).
  2. An iPhone keyboard. Hey, the Pre has it... Not a chance in my opinion, unless it is via Bluetooth as a separate item.
  3. Steve Jobs showing up to say hi, live or on video. He did not even attend the Disney board meeting, so I believe there is no chance. But it would be great, and hope is cheap (or was it talk?)
That's it. Buzz is building up. We'll know very soon.