Say have you seen the iWatch? What’s that you say? Apple hasn’t released such a beast? Well, yes, but wasn’t there a rumor in the summer of 2013 suggesting that Apple had delayed release because of the complexities in building the product? Supposedly Apple had a large team working on the project, but they just couldn’t quite get it all together, so they delayed it until some unknown date in the future.
While all this may well be true, it may also be that this was a case of one rumor used to explain why yet another rumor hadn’t come to pass. Are you with me so far?
Now the iWatch rumors are here anew, this time suggesting you’ll see it as one of the new product categories Apple is expected to enter — and they did promise to enter new categories — later this year. You know that Apple is interested in wearables, because CEO Tim Cook has said so, but that does not a product make. So I suppose we’ll see.
When will the iWatch arrive? I suppose you might hear something at the WWDC in June, simply because Apple might want to entice developers to contribute special apps for the product, not to mention creating demand and freaking the competition. But that assumes an iWatch is coming this year. In the end, there may be yet another rumor that it has been delayed yet again.
Of course, the Apple critics crowd will complain, suggesting that Apple is losing big time in not entering a market that’s becoming more and more crowded all the time. Only thing: None of those smartwatches has taken off in any compelling way, but if Apple wants to enter this space, it should do so soon. There’s no guarantee there won’t be another breakaway product one of these days, perhaps from some startup company we know little or nothing about. Or maybe the Pebble will catch a wave.
That takes us to the latest rumor being used as an excuse for a rumor.
This time, it’s about the alleged 5.5-inch iPhone, Apple’s alleged first entry into the phablet market; a phablet being a gadget that combines a smartphone with a small tablet. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, this product, meant to accompany release of the alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 this coming fall, has been delayed until perhaps some time in 2015. Why? Well, evidently Apple wants to make a trendsetting phablet, super thin in the spirit of the iPad Air, known as the iPhone Air. But they are having problems perfecting a two millimeter thick battery to keep the gadget smooth and thin.
Of course, Apple has said nothing about the next generation iPhone, and won’t until days from the actual release, which one presumes to be September. That, however, might change, but it also presumes that iOS 8 will be ready in time, since one goes with the other.
In any case, Kuo isn’t the sort of person you dismiss as just another analyst making up stories. Evidently, he has a better rate of accuracy than others in his business, so when he says something, it tends to be taken seriously.
But that doesn’t mean he’s right!
Now the latest iPhone rumors have, as a whole, centered on a 4.7-inch model. This would be Apple’s first foray into larger form factors since the move from 3.5-inch displays to 4-inch displays starting the iPhone 5 in 2012. It even makes sense, since Tim Cook has not dismissed the idea of a larger iPhone. His excuse for not releasing one now is that there are technology problems with such things as picture quality and battery life. Apple doesn’t want to build a battery-sucking monster, or a thicker iPhone to compensate for the need of a larger battery. Return to the story about the iPhone phablet as an example of Apple’s obsession with thin, even if we have no idea whether such a product will ever see the light of day.
It’s also true that people do clearly want larger smartphones, and Apple would, I’m sure, love to accommodate those needs while retaining the ability to use one hand as much as possible. At the very least, the rumor of a larger iPhone 6 sounds perfectly credible. I’m not sure I’d trade my iPhone 5s for one, but you get the point.
However, I’m still highly skeptical of whether Apple wants to jump into the phablet game. Yes, millions of sales are involved, particularly in the Asian market where they are popular. But the form factor is not without its problems.
For one thing, a phablet is too small to be a credible tablet. Even the 7-inch form factor is troubled, but Apple get’s away with the 7.87 iPad mini by using a standard aspect ratio. The other tablets are widescreens, which are suited for movies, but not so much for other purposes, such as surfing the Internet, particularly when placed horizontally. This was the very argument Apple VP Philip Schiller used when the mini debuted in 2012.
As far as an even larger iPhone is concerned, one commentator likened a phablet to the large brick phones of old, or perhaps a shoe phone. The concept is just too awkward, and I suppose he was a fan of the 1960s comedy spy show, “Get Smart,” where CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart famously placed his shoe to his ear to have a phone conversation. Maybe creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were on to something.
In summary, a larger iPhone seems a lock. An iPhone phablet by whatever name not so much.
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