Thursday, December 14, 2006

Apple iPhone, Fact or Phantasy?

Few would argue that Apple's iPod has been a very successful product
since its launch in October 2001.  By September 2006 over 67 million
iPods have been sold.  Apple reportedly has 70% of the overall digital
media player market, and the iPod has been dubbed the "Walkman of the
21st Century".

With the annual MacWorld Expo scheduled to start on January 9 2007, many
industry pundits are speculating what will be the Next Big Thing from
Apple.  The current favourite is an Apple-made mobile phone, dubbed the
iPhone.  Apple has never officially declared its intention to enter the
mobile phone market.  Unlike some of its rivals, Apple very rarely pre-
announces upcoming products.  Instead Apple prefers to maintain a cult
of secrecy, making surprise announcements of new products just prior to
their release.  This approach seems to have helped fuel a whole host of
rumour web sites and blogs, devoted to speculating on Apple's future

Here's a selection of the more interesting iPhone-related sites:

* MYiPhone, the unofficial iPhone weblog

* Everything iPhone
  Includes a gallery of Photoshopped iPhones:

* iPhoneFreak

* iPhone concept blog

Wild speculation from self-declared rumour sites is understandable.
Even if the iPhone never sees the light of day, such sites at least
provide some entertainment value.  But when "analysts" and news sites
join in the frenzy, you have to question their credibility.

Some sites have been tracking the iPhone phenomenon with a rather
sceptical eye.  Tao of Mac has a list of articles dating back to 2002:

The site's author outlines his thoughts on why it is unlikely that Apple
would release a mobile phone any time soon.  I tend to agree.  However
stranger things have happened.  I'm sure there have been several
internal projects within Apple that could be similar to the mythical
iPhone.  A large proportion of prototypes in Apple's labs never make it
to production.  Here are a couple of links with photos of such

* The Apple Museum: Protoypes

* Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw
Note that #2 is "Apple Videophone PDA".

More Photoshopped Apple prototypes are collected at:

Interestingly, just prior to the announcement of the iPod, many rumour
sites were convinced that Apple would be releasing a PDA (Personal
Digital Assistant).  One site even gave it a name, iWalk.  So when
Apple announced the iPod at a special media event, many news sites and
analysts, were underwhelmed, e.g. "No iWalk, just an iPod":
Some of the comments are quite amusing in retrospect.

So, what new products will Apple release in 2007?  The iPhone?  An iPDA?
An iTablet (a tablet PC)?  One product that Apple has pre-announced for
2007 has the internal code name "iTV", which is a set-top box:

* An iPhone is launched on December 18, not by Apple but by Linksys:
Surprise iPhone launch

* Timeline of Apple "iPhone" Rumors (1999-Present)