I’ve said this for some time: Apple will sell a phone. Perhaps it will look like the 2004 artist’s conceptual rendering shown. I’d give you the link when I said it publicly, but it was on the now-defunct "techADDICTION" podcast series that James and I did last year. Nevertheless, I saw it then, and I see it today: this is a logical device progression for Apple for a couple of reasons. Even better yet, in an excellent article on the end to end vs. the component model, Walt Mossberg confirms that Apple is working on a cellular phone device. Here’s the kicker though: I don’t think a phone with iTunes capability is going to do it, so my guess is that we’ll see more functionality than people expect.
Right off the bat: a cellular phone device isn’t in Apple’s stable of core competencies. That’s why there’s been no big rush here; that and the growing iPod market, that is. That market is getting a little saturated though. iPod sales are leveling off and it’s time for a new product. One that will sell tons and tons of devices to take the place of the iPod in Apple’s product offerings. What could be better than a cellphone, which is likely the most owned gadget on the planet?
The Apple partnerships with Motorola were, in my opinion, a chance to start working on iTunes compatible phones, but these weren’t the end-all, be-all products. No, Apple is taking what they learned there and they’ll be applying it to their own brand of phone. (Lesson #1: don’t limit the number of songs you can play, even if you can store more).
If Apple is developing a phone that can work with iTunes, will that be enough for it as a "smash hit" like the iPod? I don’t think so. I think they need to (and will) add more functionality in terms of base PIM functions and perhaps even the ability to add and run software like a Windows Mobile device. Perhaps all of these patents for virtual scroll-wheels and on-screen keyboards aren’t for an Apple Tablet PC or a Video iPod after all. Perhaps we’re about to see a new class of mobile computing device from Apple, and I for one would welcome it.
What do you think? Is Apple sowing seeds for a handheld computing device or are my thoughts rotten to the core?