What better way to end the week than with two fresh, shiny new iPhone rumors to chew on? According to various reports, the iPhone 3GS could get an 8GB model just in time for the holidays, and Apple is said to be testing iPhones that support radio-frequency identification (RFID), a tech that allows devices to sense nearby embedded chips without coming in actual contact with them.
While the timing of both rumors happens to be concurrent, please note that it is very unlikely that if Apple were to release an 8GB iPhone 3GS in time for the holiday season, it would use the new RFID tech. It’s more likely that the RFID integration will come to fruition in later models of the iPhone.
$99 8GB 3GS
Rumors of the smaller capacity 3GS come via Boy Genius Report, which has proved fairly reliable in the past when it comes to predicting product launches by Apple. They claim to have heard news of the 8GB model from two separate sources at AT&T:
Definitely not confirmed, but rather interesting nonetheless. We’ve heard now from two sources that AT&T, and we guess Apple, are contemplating launching an 8GB iPhone 3GS at the $99 price point before Christmas. One source said this was AT&T’s way of combating the Droid madness.
It should be noted that BGR specifically points out that they haven’t heard any of this from Apple or any of its personnel, which could mean that AT&T is pitching the idea but doesn’t necessarily confirm that Apple is receptive. Still, a 3GS at the magical $99 sweet-spot would definitely take some of the wind out of Droid’s sails.
Of course, there is the fact that Phil Schiller said the Apple holiday lineup is set. That should mean no new products, right? Or it could mean that the 8GB 3GS was already on the roster and that it just hasn’t been announced yet. Still, if it is coming in time for Christmas, Apple is already missing out on some prime holiday buying time. We’ll definitely see it before Black Friday if we’re going to see it at all.
Apple is looking into integrating RFID swipe support into new iPhone prototypes, AppleInsider reports. iPhones boasting RFID capabilities could allow for things like making swipe payments, proximity alerts, and getting data from swiping RFID-embedded objects or even animals.
RFID tech is ideal for this sort of thing because it requires little power, since the data transferred is often small in size, usually only a number or a URL. There’s also the cost benefits of the tech, and the fact that they’re already in wide use. According to AppleInsider:
The cost of RFID chips is now down to just a few cents each in quantity, making it possible to apply them to a wide variety of uses. Shipping companies and retailers already use RFIDs to track packages much like barcodes; libraries use them to track books, farmers use them to identify animals in herds, and the army, theme parks and schools attach RFIDs to people.
The site also speculates that Apple could then leverage its existing iTunes accounts, broadening it to make it a method for paying for anything via your iPhone, so long as the vendor you’re dealing with is equipped to accept RFID payments. Such payment systems using cell phones have already been used widely in parts of Asia and Europe.
If Apple gets in early on widespread RFID adoption here in North America, it could see the kind of industrial and business success it’s been missing thus far. It might become as common to see an iPhone-based device on the loading dock as it is to see one in a Starbucks.