Gene Munster gave his 2010 iPhone predictions today. His points are well thought out but we’ve got some additional thoughts that might be of interest.
1. He’s giving Verizon a 70% shot at getting the iPhone in 2010. The chances are probably much lower than that, even though we’ve heard Apple and Verizon had been talking since 2007. These agreements, when signed, are thought out waaay in advance and you only have to look at the commercials currently on TV to see Verizon and Apple aren’t building for an alliance. All I see is bridges burning. You think they can patch things up, sign agreements and build new EVDO hardware for Apple’s summertime launch? I don’t.
Plus, Verizon’s CEO plainly told the WSJ “no iPhone until LTE is deployed“.
A better bet is Tmobile, which already carries many unlocked iPhones in the US. These only run at EDGE speeds since the iPhone’s 3G radio is at a different frequency than Tmobile’s 3G network. As it stands, many iPhone users are lucky to see EDGE speeds on AT&T (you’ve seen Verizon’s Maps commercials?) so EDGE only wouldn’t be a huge loss. Tmobile also already has a relationship with Apple because it has the iPhone in Europe and in other markets.
If there is a surprise in 2010, I think it will be that Apple builds a 3G data-only iPhone with its own VoIP app that can ride on any network. Google is rumored to be doing this with their “real” Android phone as well. Apple would then let the networks fight over what network consumers put it on. iPhone owners could go month to month on the best network. If another network comes along with a better plan, they skate. You move to an area with no AT&T? Hello Verizon!
Some people might even forgo the 3G access costs and go pure Wifi for access only at home and at work. Or maybe they have a WiMAX Mifi and just use that. This type of device would change everything and instantly turn the mobile networks into dumb pipes.
2. Battery that lasts longer. Sure, why not? The new iPhone will hopefully have a better screen (it has to improve at some point doesn’t it?) so it will need a longer lasting battery.
On the screen, I know that apps are formatted for 480×320, but Apple needs to address the Droid/HTC HD2 (AMAZING HARDWARE) screen discrepancy. Watch those comparison videos and tell me Apple can continue with the screen that debuted in January 2007 with a third of the pixels of the newer screens like Android and HD2’s. (ignore that it runs Windows 6.5 which makes it a non-starter)
I think at some point next year, Apple will unleash the FM radio and 802.11N networking that already lives inside your iPhone 3GS as well. At the latest, it will debut with the iPhone 4.0 software in the summer.
3. Turn the iPhone into a digital wallet with RFID. We’ve already wrote bout Apple’s plans with RFID. Just like the iPhone itself, Apple knows that this technology is going to be huge and they can’t miss it. Look for Apple to start simple, maybe at its own stores and build a partnership with a blue chip bank or two to deal with the back-end transactions and security. Wells Fargo (California), HSBC (Global) and other banks should be considered good partners.
Munster also mentions that Apple has kept Flash off the platform to make applications build for the iPhone less portable. Would it be wrong to say I don’t care about Flash? It would be better to have it as an option but there isn’t anything I’d miss terribly without it. As competition heats up however, it might be one of those tick boxes that Apple wants to fill.
I expect all of these things to happen in the summer, when Apple typically makes changes to the iPhone platform. Any changes before then should be small.
There is always that tablet to consider, however.