New iPods…Wifi / Hard Drives or Not?

ipod touch airport wifi With the September 5th Apple announcement sure to be exciting for those who are waiting for new iPods, questions still remain on the final specs of these devices. Perhaps Apple dropped some clues on us with their recent Airport Extreme update (Probably not).  If not, the questions still loom: will these new flagship iPods have WiFi?  Are they hard drive or flash based?  POLL

Our informed readers and insiders have been somewhat split on the answers to these questions.  

A hard drive (compared to Flash/NAND) uses a lot of juice.  Hard drive-based devices require more battery and stabilization space than RAM based device like the iPhone.  To have both in a device the form-factor of an iPhone would be pretty tough  – but doable if the device were to be made thicker.  The hard drive alone would add significant bulk to the device and its spinning could also throw off the accelerometer that adds so much cool functionality to the iPhone’s OS.

However, 1.8 inch hard drives are relatively cheap and huge.  For the price of a 16 Gb flash-based iPod, Apple could probably give you a 160 Gb hard drive based iPod that was a few millimeters thicker and might not have the same battery life.  Would users be cool with that?  Yes, certainly.  Would Apple’s designers?  Probably less so, but it certainly is in the realm of contention – especially knowing that millions of potential customers are salivating over the possibility.

As for Wifi, we know the iPhone certainly does it quite well.  The only question is if including Wifi will hurt the iPhone sales (it certainly could) and will Apple – and by extension AT&T and the Euro-carriers be willing to accept that?  We know Apple doesn’t really care too much about it’s partners but  they do care about their iPhone.  If they release Wifi in their iPods, they will have to beef up the storage in the iPhones at some point soon as well.

Wifi-based iPods bring up a lot of other possibilities as well.   Perhaps some of the storage loss by going exlusively flash RAM based could be made up by having your music/video data on Airport Extreme based, inexpensive USB hard drives?  Streaming your MP3’s and movies over the WLAN or Internet would be extremely cool.  Just ask Sling customers.

VOIP also comes to mind.  We know however, that the new iPods don’t have phone-like speakers and mics.  Therefore, it is probably not Apple’s long term plan to use the iPod as a phone.  Of course Bluetooth or tethered headsets could easily be used and I am sure someone like Skype or Cisco would be happy to add a bit of software that could enable this.

What about future releases?  At some point in the future we know that the iPod and iPhone will be the same device.  It is just too easy and imperative to add VOIP functionality to a iPod sized device. The flexibility and function of VOIP services kills traditional carriers’ capabilities.   Look how hard it was to get visual voicemail from AT&T?  Skype and Vonage had that functionality a few years ago.  

When the smoke clears in the portable device industry, Apple wants their devices to the THE SINGLE device people carry around.  Apple’s current portable device lineup have the ability to be those devices.  Maybe by Macworld, we’ll see something moving in that direction.

iPhone Hacks All Part of the Plan?

A really good cnetpost over at CNET articulates what a lot of people have been speculating about since the bevy of iPhone hacks have been released. 

This is all part of Apple’s plan. 

Apple has been known to screw its partners over before (cough**Motorola ROKR, IBM, Adobe, Microsoft etc.) albeit privately. By not taking any actions against the new iPhone hackers and leaving the dirty work to AT&T’s legal team, Apple isn’t helping its case.  Perhaps because Steve can relate to phone haxors?

From a strictly mathematical point of view, let’s look at the revenues.  Apple gets 10% ish of every legit iPhone’s usage revenue.  Over 2 years@ $5 a month, that is $240.  About the same as the margin on the iPhones according to iSupply.  So about break even.  

However those people taking them off of AT&T are unlikely to be cannibalizing AT&T sales – they are people stuck in other contracts…all things being relatively equal besides visual voice mail, if you are plan-less in a semi urban area, you’ll go to AT&T.  So it is mostly gravy.

If Apple is serious about keeping the iPhone locked to AT&T, they will release a firmware update that will seal up the holes that it has allowed hackers to break throguh.  Much like the PSP vs. Homebrew PSP fight, it will be a sticky situation.

With 3G iPhones coming to Europe and predicted price drops in current iPhones, there is a lot of excitemnt in this market segment.  And don’t forget about WiMAX in 2008!

iPhone Hacks – What Would 1975 Jobs/Wozniak Do?

Steve jobs hacks phones

The latest news around the net is the iPhone hack that allows you to take the sim-locked iPhone off of AT&T and use it freely on any GSM network – making the must-have device more accessible.   This is a boon to people (like us) abroad who love the iPhone but don’t want to pay AT&T’s exorbitant roaming extortion fees. Apple hasn’t taken an official stance on this issue perhaps because of a little bit of history. Maybe you’ve seen the picture to the right on Steve Wozniak’s official website:

Yep.  That is Steve Jobs on the left, but the most startling thing in this picture (besides Woz’s ‘do) is that young Jobs is playing with a piece of contralband called the “Blue Box.”  What is a Blue Box?  From Wikipedia:


An early phreaking tool, the blue box is an electronic device that simulates a telephone operator‘s
dialing console. It functions by replicating the tones used to switch long-distance calls and using them to route the user’s own call, bypassing the normal switching mechanism. The most typical use of a blue box was to place free telephone calls – inversely, the Black Box enabled one to receive calls which were free to the caller. The blue box no longer works in most western nations, as modern switching systems are now digital and no longer use the in-band signaling which the blue box emulates. Instead, signaling occurs on an out-of-band channel which cannot be accessed from the line the caller is using (called Common Channel Interoffice Signaling (CCIS))….

Some of the more famous pranksters were Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, founders of Apple Computer. On one occasion Wozniak dialed Vatican City and identified himself as Henry Kissinger (imitating Kissinger’s German accent) and asked to speak to the Pope (who was sleeping at the time).1].

We love the Steves, but it is well documented that the Apple founders got their start by hacking AT&T (from 1971-1975 AT&T was still a monopoly – just like it will be in 2010).  

Therefore, it is going to be extremely difficult for Apple to take the moral high ground on the current controversy surrounding the young entrepreneurs who are hacking the iPhone.  AT&T has already started hitting back at the companies that offer to untether the iPhone from the wannabe monopoly.  

Hey AT&T, why not put those attorney fees into better service for your customers and lower prices for your roamers? That would be a better way of keeping customers, in our opinion.

Update: It turns out that the duo not only built the illegal boxes but assembled them and SOLD them on Cal Berkley’s campus for around $150. This profit was some of the money that was used to start Apple!!

In 1971 Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak designed a device called the ‘Blue Box’. It allowed — of course illegal — phone calls free of charge by faking the signals used by the phone companies. His friend Steve Jobs instantly realized that there must be a huge market for something that useful. He bought the parts for $40, Woz built the boxes and Jobs sold them to his fellow students at the University of California in Berkeley for $150. To demonstrate the ‘product’ to some students, Woz once posed as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and called the Vatican. Allegedly he played his role so well that they told him the pope was sleeping but if he requested they would awake him. Woz got nervous and hung up.

More Here:

The Wozniak/Jobs blue boxes were perfected and the business partnership between Jobs and Wozniak was born with Jobs working with Wozniak to sell the blue-boxes. They had some success and decided to begin working on a personal computer. Jobs sold his Volkswagen, Wozniak sold his HP scientific calculator, together raising $1,300 to fund their startup – the rest is history.

Halliday, David. 1983. “Steve Paul Jobs”. Current Biography 5 (February): 204-207.

Next iPod Art Contest!

Artist We get hundereds of comments asking why we don’t just post our mockup and wait for Apple Legal to come after us. People, we don’t want to take Apple’s thunder!   They have thousands of people working on amazing products and should have the right to introduce them – not lowly us.  We just speculate, speculate, speculate.

Plus, we have families to support and are not trying to wind up on the wrong side of the Apple Lawyer Army to end up jobless, broke and kneecap-less! 

But, you guys are creative right?  Your art skillz are better than ours, no?  Why not shoot us an email at editor at 9to5mac dot com or post a link in the comments and we’ll post the most amazing ones next week.

You got game? (continue)

Update: we’ve been getting some sick submissions people – keep up the good work!  It is going to be next to impossible to pick the best!

iPod XXXX – the New Flagship iPod

Hug it out Yeah we had a spy picture to show you but we’ve learned our lessontwice. We’ll just describe it and let your minds wander:

Update: We are having a contest!

Name – iPod XXXXX… HTC be damned!

Same form factor as the iPhone with some notable exceptions:

  • Outside rim is black, not silver like the iPhone and more flush with the screen like the 5.5G iPods not rounded like iPhone
  • No ear speaker or microphone for phoning
  • Thinner – slightly

Things that are the same:

  • OSX Embedded OS
  • 480×320 screen
  • Coverflow-enabled iPod application
  • Single button home navigation

Things we wish we knew:

  • WiFi?  (This is the Capper)
  • GPS?
  • NAND RAM and/or 160GB Hard Drives configs?
  • Cost?  (Like it matters we want them!)

Also, just a quick note to Apple Legal.  We’ve learned our lesson and will shy away from posting what could be considered trademarked information.  9to5Mac is an Apple enthusiest website and we are all huge Apple fans here (obviously).  We are not trying to hurt the company – just inform other Apple consumers who might want  more intel on upcoming products so that they may make more informed buying decisions.  No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on a product that is about to get put in the dumper.  We are just hyping your products and informing your consumers.

Who doesn’t want that?  Apple, let’s just hug it out!

Peace!

iPhone Orange Details Emerge. Apple Takes 10% of Revenue – But for How Long?

Orange iphoneThe big iPhone news today is what appears to be certain confirmation of the mobile operator deals for iPhone in Germany, France, and the UK. What remains to be seen is the feasibility and longevity of these exclusivity deals, given the differences in European laws and U.S. ones. 

We talked to an employee at Orange in Paris about details of their agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone.

1. He reiterated that Apple is going to get 10% of the revenue from Orange. However, French Law states that after 6 months, you can take your phone to another provider (you can also keep your number – like in the US). The initial provider must allow the phone to be moved and provide whatever access codes necessary to move it.  The iPhone will still be sold with a 2 year plan…so that will be interesting to see play out.

Because of this, we speculate Apple may only collect from Orange for 6 months. Apple and Orange may get around this at least in the short-term by offering only 2-year plans, but after 6 months a user could pay an early termination fee and move on. Additionally, the illegal unlocking of iPhones could therefore be a significant revenue risk for Apple, since operators other than Orange would, by law, have the right to have the iPhone on their network. The link below has more information about the French law and its implications.

http://www.minefi.gouv.fr/directions_services/dgccrf/documentation/fiches_pratiques/fiches/b31.htm

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