All Things iPhone: Future Features, Sequels and Partners
Applications: Apple appears to have a two-tier approach to iPhone software development: if you’re an Apple partner, such as Google, your applications may appear on iPhone’s home page. If you’re anyone else, you’ll have to run your applications through the Safari web browsers unless Apple decides that it wants to promote your application to main menu-worthy, and contacts you to arrange for that to happen. As such, expect iPhone main menu updates only when Apple announces them.
Games: As originally announced, iPhone was not intended to play games developed for the fifth-generation iPod. However, companies other than Apple - including the iPod’s leading game publisher, Electronic Arts, have suggested that they believe the phone will play games. If that is true, the only question is whether Apple will provide a virtual Click Wheel for input, reprogram the games for the new device, or develop entirely new titles.
GPS: Not included. Could be added via an accessory; maps might well consume 1 or more GB of storage.
International Partners: Subsequent to Apple’s announcement of a partnership with AT&T for the United States, Canada’s Rogers Wireless has publicly claimed that it will offer the iPhone to Canadian customers. A leading car industry web site reported months prior to iPhone’s launch that BMW would become the first company to offer a complete iPhone car integration system, following the BMW Your iPod promotion for iPod models. This was confirmed on June 29, 2007 by BMW; namely, that its prior iPod/USB interface for certain BMW models is already iPhone-compatible. Apple on September 18, 2007 announced that its partners for United Kingdom-based service and sales of the iPhone would be O2 and Carphone Warehouse, with distribution to begin November 9, 2007.
iPod Implications: Though Apple doesn’t speak about unannounced products, iLounge’s editors strongly suspect that iPhone’s widescreen and touchscreen technologies will appear alongside a hard drive in an upcoming update to the full-sized iPod, with the possibility that limited wireless functionality will also be included. We’d expect to see such an iPod announced after the iPhone, rather than before it, so as to avoid cannibalizing initial iPhone sales. Subsequent flash-based iterations (nano-sized) are, of course, also possible.
Lawsuits: The iPhone faces an unusually high number of actual or potential lawsuits prior to its release. Several companies, most notably including Korea’s LG (Lucky-Goldstar), have suggested that they are considering lawsuits based on claimed physical or technical infringements on their designs, including cell phones and touch-sensitive technologies. A trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Cisco Systems immediately after the iPhone’s introduction has been settled by the two sides, enabling both to use the iPhone name for their products. Additionally, as numerous companies are now attempting to duplicate the look and feel of iPhone, Apple may be forced to take actions of its own, as well.
Modem: Apple has made no comment about the iPhone working as a wireless modem for computers; we get the sense that it will not, as the feature would place greater demands on AT&T’s data network.
Ringtones: Ringtones cannot be taken from your iTunes music library, according to Apple, a limitation based on “rights issues” (read: the music industry). This is pretty surprising. However, Apple executives have since offered different answers on the ringtone topic, and the company has apparently not entirely foreclosed the possibility.
Sequels: Apple and AT&T have stated that iPhone follow-ups are coming soon, but the specifics and dates are only speculative at this point. Some are expected to be compatible with advanced 3G (HSDPA) data networks, once those networks are widespread, or customized for popular cellular networks in foreign countries. Others are expected to be cut-down, less expensive versions of the iPhone made for less demanding users.
Voice Command: This feature, commonly used on cell phones to let you dial or access menu options with only your voice, is not currently included on iPhone. Dialing and menu navigation are handled through touching the screen.
Updates: During its second-quarter 2007 financial results conference call, Apple announced that it will offer both feature and application updates to the iPhone during its lifespan, a decision which forced the company to adopt a subscription-style revenue accounting system for the device. According to the company, these new additions to the iPhone’s capabilities are designed to surprise and delight iPhone owners, who are believed to be the product’s most likely advocates. Not surprisingly, Apple has not disclosed the specific features or applications that might be added to the iPhone in the future.
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