It's Friday the 13th and if the movie franchise no longer deliver on cheap thrills, the iOSphere can when it comes to iPhone 5 scuttlebutt.
This week: Verizon demands LTE iPhone; Intel begs for a Medfield iPhone; the meaning of monster; America's Largest iPhoneless Network; Thunderbolt; and the Quadimodo chip.
You read it here second.
"Without Verizon having even mentioned Apple's iPhone, the announcement suddenly became all about the iPhone." -- Michael Essany, ModMyi.com, apparently somewhat surprised at the nature of iPhone 5 rumor.
iPhone 5 will have LTE after all, because Verizon demands it
This is an example of the "If A, then Z" form of iOSsphere rumor.
A bunch of news and blogs, and their commenters, concluded that iPhone 5 will be equipped with LTE, based on this sketchy story at CNET.com, by Jessica Dolcourt. The headline: "Verizon: 'All' our smartphones will be 4G LTE."
MORE RUMORS: The week in iPad 3 rumors
And not only smartphones: also wireless hotspots, tablets and netbooks.
Yet Dolcourt's breezy opening instantly qualifies the "all" and contradicts the "will be."
"Pretty soon, pointing out 4G LTE on a Verizon smartphone will become an exercise in redundancy. From now on, nearly every smartphone, wireless hot spot, tablet, and Netbook that Verizon offers will come with LTE guns a-blazing."
"Nearly every" is different from "all." And "from now on" is different not only from "will be" but also from "pretty soon." Reading Dolcourt's story it's hard to figure what, if anything, "Verizon" (apparently assuming human form in the person of Keith Lampron, identified as Verizon's associate director of device marketing) actually said.
Oddly, Dolcourt never fully quotes Lampron -- except for a two-word fragment -- on this allegedly "clear, unyielding stance on 4G -- 'a hard requirement,' according to Verizon. ..."
So is Lampron really saying that from this day forward -- Jan. 11 when Dolcourt filed her story -- till the ending of the world Verizon will only offer LTE smartphones and mobile devices? Or is he saying that eventually, at some as yet undefined point in the future, only LTE will be allowed on new devices? Who knows?
In Dolcourt's nine short paragraphs there is not one mention of "iPhone" or even "Apple." But here are the first three comments on her post:
"So that means the iPhone 5 will have 4G....hmmm" -- Payne234
"... or Verizon won't have the iPhone 5. There's really no doubting the iPhone 5 will have LTE though because Apple would be stupid to ship it without it." -- WickedToby741
"Either that or it won't be available on Verizon. Only time will tell. -- QA_Tester
Together the three comments forecast the iOSphere hive-mind at work. Many, though not all, subsequent postings about Verizon's clear, unyielding stance referenced Dolcourt's post as the shaky foundation for speculating or concluding that iPhone 5 will have LTE.
A starting post at a MacRumors.com forum linked to the CNET account and noted, "That [LTE] requirement has naturally led to speculation that the carrier has all but confirmed that the iPhone 5 will support LTE, which had already been widely assumed and rumored." That naturally led to still more speculation in at least 80 comments.
"Now it seems that an iPhone 5 with LTE compatibility is almost a certainty due to Verizon requirements for future smartphones," wrote Gary Johnson, at Product-reviews.net.
At ModMyi.com, the headline for Michael Essany's post read: "Verizon's 4G LTE 'Demand' Raises Hopes and Doubts Among iPhone Loyalists."
"Without Verizon having even mentioned Apple's iPhone, the announcement suddenly became all about the iPhone," Essany said. We're surprised that he seems surprised by this development. "Naturally, some are taking this to mean that Apple's next gen-iPhone won't be carried by Verizon if it isn't 4G LTE friendly. Others, of course, take the news as a clear indication that Apple will embrace 4G LTE with the iPhone 5."
Electronista was another site that read the Dolcourt story as evidence of a decisive action by Verizon, and drew the, you know, obvious conclusions. "The decision would by its necessity see Verizon hold off on any future iPhones, BlackBerrys, or Windows Phones until they add LTE," according to the post.
We'll give the alas-not-the-last-word on Verizon, iPhone 5 and LTE to ModMyi's Essany: "Anyone who thinks Verizon will lose or give up the iPhone this year when the new model is unveiled is a significantly misguided individual."
iPhone 5 will use Intel's Medfield chip
This is one of the stranger rumors, which comes via 9to5Mac.
"Intel is looking to use its recently unveiled Medfield chips in the iPhone, according to The Telegraph," revealed Jake Smith in his blog post. "In the report, Dave Whalen, vice president of Intel's architecture group, told The Telegraph that Intel has talked to Apple and other manufacturers about using the new Medfield chips in iOS devices."
We're not sure who the "other manufacturers" would be, since Apple is the only one creating iOS devices.
Smith was referencing a story by The Telegraph's Matt Warman, who covered the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and talked with Dave Whalen, vice president of Intel's architecture group. The Telegraph's headline: "Intel eyes Apple iPhone and Windows phones for new Medfield chips."
But what Whalen actually said was much vaguer about iOS and Windows, and much more specific about Android, than either The Telegraph's headline or 9to5Mac's post implied.
Here's what Whalen said, according to The Telegraph: "When we took over [development] in April we took a conscious decision to focus on Android. Windows [Phone], other operating systems -- we recognize that there will be opportunities. It's not a 'no', it's just 'not now.' When the time's appropriate we'll look at other OSs."
Warman then had this sentence: "[Whalen] added that as iOS continues to grow, 'we talk to everybody.'"
So Whalen says pretty clearly that "our priority is Android but we're open to other OS platforms when the time is appropriate." Via iOSsphere Translate, that becomes, "We're trying to get Apple to use our chips instead of theirs in the next iPhone."
The Telegraph notes that the Intel chips in question are all single-core, and quote Intel's Whalen as saying, "We don't frankly see the need for dual core. ... We believe we are at par if not better than our competitors."
So that would mean that Intel is trying to convince Apple to drop its own custom-designed, fully controlled, dual-core processor for the iPhone and replace it with a third party's single-core processor.
Of course, if Verizon set a "clear, unyielding stance" on having Intel processors in all those future LTE phones, maybe it could happen ...
iPhone 5 will be a "monster upgrade" because Apple is selling so many iPhone 4S models
This rumor is based on a new "investors note" by the ever-quotable Piper Jaffray stock analyst Gene Munster, picked up and apparently misinterpreted by a passel of Apple-related blog and news sites.
Typical is this AppleInsider post by Neil Hughes, which carried the headline, "Strong sales of iPhone 4S a precursor to 'monster' launch of redesigned 'iPhone 5.'"
There are a couple of meanings to "precursor" -- Hughes could be saying that iPhone 4S simply precedes the Next iPhone, which is certainly true; but he seems to intend the second sense:
"a person, animal, or thing that goes before and indicates the approach of someone or something else," as the first robin is a precursor of spring.
Hughes includes this quote from Munster's note: "If Apple sells 30 (million)-plus iPhones in Dec., with no new form factor, up from 17.1m in Sept., it would be evidence supporting our survey work indicating that 94% of iPhone users plan to upgrade to a new iPhone. This theme suggests iPhone 5, which we are expecting in Aug. with a new form factor, will be a monster upgrade."
Hughes seems to interpret "monster" and "new form factor" as Munster saying that iPhone 5 will be a "completely redesigned next-generation" device. So did many others, including Essany at ModMyi.com: "On Wednesday, Munster once again reiterated his assertion that Apple is going to surprise the multitudes with a completely different look for the next-gen iPhone (which he calls the iPhone 5). This time around, however, Munster says the next incarnation of the iPhone will be a 'monster.'"
A post at uSwitch.com, a phone information site, claims Munster is saying that the "next-gen Apple smartphone will feature a radical redesign."
Munster does say iPhone 5 will have a "new form factor." But the "monster upgrade" refers not to the physical design but to his prediction that when the Next iPhone is released, very, very large numbers of existing owners of older iPhones will switch -- upgrade -- to the new phone.
Hughes doesn't clearly explain this distinction, and Essany and others seem to have failed to realize there is one. Thus, Hughes: "With iPhone sales over the holiday quarter expected to exceed 30 million, despite the fact that the iPhone 4S features the same form factor as its predecessor, one analyst believes the launch of a completely redesigned next-generation iPhone later this year will be a 'monster.'" But he doesn't quite connect the dots to show why iPhone 4S sales are a harbinger of iPhone 5 sales.
Munster's quote shows that he believes iPhone 4S sales have been propelled significantly by users upgrading from an older iPhone model to the 4S. Hence, as he says, if Apple can shatter sales records with a phone that lacks a new form factor, and a lot of current iPhone users eventually want to upgrade, then when the Next iPhone arrives with a new form factor, a whole lot of folks will switch to it.
Because, logically, great iPhone sales do not mean or even suggest that Apple therefore will radically change the physical design of the next iPhone. It's sort of like President Obama saying that a massive government stimulus program, funded by borrowing, will lead to a monster upgrade in the economy. As we saw, there's no necessary connection between the two.
iPhone 5 will run on T-Mobile
T-Mobile USA, "America's Largest iPhoneless Network," has a shot at getting the iPhone 5 because Apple finally got around to having a chipset that can support the spectrum used by the carrier.
But apparently it's still unclear whether Apple will actually turn it on.
CNET's Roger Cheng, covering the Consumer Electronics Show, talked with T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray, and concluded that the "technical hurdle preventing the iPhone from coming to T-Mobile USA could be cleared when the next iteration of the phone comes out."
T-Mobile relies on the AWS band for its cellular service. According to Cheng, Ray says that T-Mobile's "unique spectrum would have required extra work to ensure the iPhone ran correctly on its network." Ray is quoted as saying that "the next chipset will support AWS. The challenge that existed in the past will go away."
But then it gets a bit confusing. "Ray said Apple has the option to move to AWS with the roadmap of chipsets on the market. The executive has seen the chipsets that are available to all of the original equipment manufacturers. The company later clarified that Ray hasn't seen Apple's specific roadmap. But he [presumably Ray] noted Apple could choose to ignore that capability and not strike a deal with T-Mobile."
iPhone 5 will have the Thunderbolt I/O port
The newest iteration of this rumor, which has been around since early 2011, is based on Apple patent filings newly unearthed by the diligent Apple patent hobbits at PatentlyApple.com. They think the filings show that Apple will bring the Thunderbolt I/O interface, with 10 gigabits of throughput in both directions, to iOS devices.
Many of those who read the PatentlyApple post think, or hope, it means that Apple will bring Thunderbolt to iPhone 5.
Both Intel and Apple were involved with developing Thunderbolt but the exact relationship seems unclear. The Wikipedia entry says, "Thunderbolt was developed by Intel and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple." But PatentlyApple thinks these newly discovered filings "strongly suggest that they're attempting to secure Thunderbolt related patents."
"The good news that emerged from these patents is that Apple is focused on bringing Thunderbolt to iOS devices in the future so as to provide faster data transfers and more importantly, faster recharging," according to the post.
First introduced commercially on Apple's MacBook Pro line on Feb. 24, 2011, Thunderbolt combines two interfaces, PCI Express and DisplayPort, "into a serial data interface that can be carried over longer and less costly cables," according to Wikipedia.
PatentlyApple quotes from one of the filings regarding a "new type of connection ... [for example] a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices."
For PatentlyApple, the implication is that "if this is to apply to future iOS devices, as suggested in the quote above, Apple will have to reengineer the connector to be flat enough to fit a USB-type of device slot. Though we've shown that Apple has been at work on that already. The good news is that transferring data to and from an iOS device will be lightning fast as will recharging."
A range of bloggers think they understand Apple's development timelines well enough to make predictions. "[V]arious analysts are proposing the next generation smartphone could be announced around autumn 2012, giving a good chance of seeing the super fast ports in the iPhone 5," says Radu Tyrsina, posting at ITProPortal.com.
Not everyone is looking forward to this development. When the rumor first surfaced in spring 2011, Charlie Demerjian, founder of SemiAccurate.com, denounced it as "nothing more than a vicious attempt at lock in and price extortion." Almost everything Thunderbolt does can be done cheaper and as well by USB 3.0. The proprietary Thunderbolt "opens the door to Apple and Intel excluding anyone they want from the ecosystem and jacking up prices for anyone who wants a shiny iThingy," Demerjian wrote.
iPhone 5 will be slimmer, and it will have, yes, a "quad-mode" LTE chip
AppleInsider got hold of yet another "investors note," this time from Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty reporting, with refreshing modesty, on her recent research trip to Asia. According to AppleInsider's Josh Ong, Huberty admits in the note that details about iPhone 5, even apparently among all those notorious Asian supply chain sources, are "sparse."
According to Ong, Huberty's note "hinted" that the Next iPhone will be slimmer and could include a "quad-mode" Qualcomm chipset "that would allow for 3G and LTE functionality across all 'network flavors.'"
In fact, Huberty did not "hint." She actually wrote those things. "Apple will also launch ... a slimmer iPhone later this year," is the quote in AppleInsider.
The "quad-mode chip" may be a reference to Qualcomm's Gobi 4000 chipset, which will henceforth be known as the Quadimodo chipset, announced in November 2011. It integrates LTE and 3G modems. The only problem is it seems for now to be targeted at "personal computing, tablet and e-reader operating systems." (Qualcomm had not returned a phone call asking for details when this story was posted.)
A chipset of this type would let iPhone 5 "run on all 3G and LTE network flavors," Huberty is quoted as saying. But it is "too early to know for sure." Too early for her, perhaps, but its never too early for the iOSphere.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
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