Apple Rumors- My Thoughts

Everyone on the web is going ape-shit about possible future Apple hardware releases.

The two that are most prominent are a new Apple iPhone and an Apple Tablet Mac/eBook reader.

Here are my views on these rumors:

New iPhone:

Rumors for this include:

  • New OLED Screen
  • Light-up Apple logo on the back
  • 32GB Memory
  • 2x Faster CPU and RAM
  • 1.5x Battery Life
  • Mini/Larger iPhone model

The 32GB upgrade I can see; this is long overdue. (or maybe they could just slap a MicroSDHC slot in there and I could add 32GB to it myself!) I would even consider an OLED screen and a faster CPU- but a faster CPU + RAM AND longer battery life is complete bullshit fantasy- unless they make the iPhone thicker… (and the trend is to make it thinner with each update)

There was actually a 32GB iPhone place holder on the Australian T-Mobile site for a short while.

A light-up Apple logo on the back? My only question would be- Why? A separate light-up display would use battery life and look pretty fucking stupid. This wouldn’t bee too difficult to do- so long as they don’t switch to OLED- as Apple could just put a clear panel behind the LED backlight to allow some of the screen’s glow to permeate through- but this would dim the display of the main screen as light would be escaping in different directions.

As for a different sized iPhone, Apple has an application store with 1000s of Apps that are 100% compatible with both 1st Gen and 3G iPhones (save for ones that need GPS)- and they would probably want to maintain this compatibility (at least for the next few years). iPhone hardware changes cannot be something that would make older apps break (such as a different screen resolution).

A smaller screen would also mean a smaller keypad typing area- so unless they switch to resistive screens and include a stylus (which doesn’t work on capacitive touch screens) I think they would only be able to sell smaller screen iPhones in Japan.

New Tablet Mac/eBook Reader:

Rumors for this include:

  • Multi-touch screen
  • eBook Reader/Kindle killer
  • Color eBook reader
  • 8.5” x 11” screen (13.9” diagonal size)

Right off I call bullshit on an ‘eBook reader’ option from Apple- at for at least a the next years; the technology isn’t there to make it ‘cool’ as of yet.

Will apple make a touch-screen MacBook? Sure- but remember that PC manufacturers made similar beasts about 4-5 years ago -and they are still waiting for tablet PCs to catch on. People would rather type than write on a screen; writing is way too slow compared to data entry via a keyboard.

Will it be multi-touch? -only if they don’t want handwriting recognition. There are two kinds of touch screens; resistive and capacitive. Resistive can use a stylus and is generally single-point contact (although some are working on this); capacitive needs something that can create an electric field to touch the screen- such as a human finger- and allows for multi-touch; It is not very easy to write an email with your finger. (I guess a metal stylus held in hand would work as well- but would also scratch the screen!)

I can envision a Mac Book with a multi-touch screen so people can play with their digital photos/edit music/etc. I don’t see them losing the keyboard- unless the device is a dock and the screen is removable for portability. No stylus and no handwriting recognition (but maybe voice recognition?).

eBook reader/eInk Technology

A little background: eInk is a patented technology made by one company; eInk Corporation. They make all the screens for the Amazon Kindle family, the Sony e-Readers and just about every other eInk reader in the world.

The benefits of eInk are that it is a static display (i.e. it is not illumined by a backlight that is running at 60hz) so it does not cause eye strain and it uses very little power (usually readers are rated in days instead of hours).

eInk Corporatopmn makes 4 sizes of screens ; 5”, 6”, 8” and 9.7”. The 6” is used in the Kindle, the Kindle 2, all three Sony eReaders and many other 6” readers. The 9.7” is used in the Kindle DX, due out in Summer 2009. This makes a 8.5” x 11” screen (13.9” diagonal) impossible as one doesn’t exist!

The only color eInk display that has seen the light of day was made by eInk corporation and sports 6” display -with a whopping 400x300 resolution (1/4 the res of their monochrome display- or 83ppi vs 167ppi) with 12bit color depth. If Apple were contracting out a custom 13.9” color e-Ink display, the display will have a 706x913 resolution (based on 83ppi x 8.5” and 11” measurements)- and make the cost of the Kindle DX look like a bargain!

eInk is a static display- so you cannot do anything that requires motion- i.e. no videos, no games, no flash animation, etc. It is difficult enough typing a URL on a device (i.e. Kindle) that has a refresh rate of ‘once every time a button is pressed’- much less trying to do word processing or a spreadsheet.

So, will Apple make an eBook reader/Kindle killer? If it is monochrome and looks almost like the Kindle- sure! The biggest screen available for eInk is 9.7”, so there will not be a 8.5” x 11” display.

If it is color device, it will either be dedicated ebook reader with a 6” 400x300 screen (ugh!)- or a laptop with a backlight LED (or possibly an OLED version- for about $4,000 more) and have a battery life about 3-4 hours- i.e. killing all the benefits that eInk has to offer (adding eye strain, killing battery life, etc).

And finally- what do people think that Apple would want to go into eBook distribution when Amazon (a venerable book distributor for many years) and Sony are both is still trying to make money on these products? If they were making decent money, the Kindle wouldn’t cost $400-$500 as they could subsidize the cost with the publishers.

My predictions:

  • New iPhone with 32GB, possible OLED screen; This will most likely just be a 16GB and 32GB upgrade announcement- disappointing fan boys and investors alike.
  • Apple MacBook/PowerBook with multi-touch screen- perhaps with a detachable screen- and maybe even with eReader software (from Amazon). If the later happens, I also foresee a future lawsuit against Apple for eBook reader software causing migraine headaches/eye problems to thousands of users…
  • All the rest- fantasy bullshit.

Combining the two- perhaps a 32GB iPhone with OLED and a landscape mode eBook reader; but I for one would never want to read a 300+ page book on a 3" OLED screen…

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