Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
31 January, 2014
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Gird your loins, pull your socks up and lend us your shell-likes, it’s Friday and that can only mean one thing. It’s Rumour Mill time. And for pretty much no reason at all, other than Mardi Gras kicking off next week and us feeling nostalgic, this week’s gossip comes to you courtesy of some of our favourite 80s/90s dance hits.

The Only Way is Up

We’re sure you’ve all heard the fallout from this week’s earnings call, in which Apple revealed the figures for the first fiscal quarter of 2014 (the period covering 1 October 2013 to 31 December 2013).

A quarter that saw two records set – one for the most iPads sold in a quarter by the company in its history (26 million, thanks for asking). And also one for the most iPhones. That’d be 51 million iPhones. In three months. Which sounds like a heck of a lot of phones to us. But apparently not to investors and analysts, who were all, “Yeah s’not bad, but we think you could have done a whole lot better…

“And this is what we think of your share price – whap!”

Accordingly, all eyes (or at least Apple-chasing keyboard jockeys) turned their attention to the next release of the iPhone. Now it’s been decided that the 5c is an ‘unmitigated disaster’ (Apple’s aversion to revealing breakdowns of iPhone variant sales, notwithstanding), surely Apple is going to cave and give the hungry hordes what they demand?

These sites think so. The mutterings about bigger screens are gathering to a deafening roar, with 3g.co.uk among the outlets predicting not one, but two new phones. Wait, weren’t we all just saying the joint release of the iPhone 5s and 5c was a terrible idea? Oh, never mind…

Back to the future… These screens will come in two sizes: big and very big. The current iPhone 5s and 5c measure 4in diagonally – an increase of 0.5in on the iPhones released between 2007 and 2012. But as Yazz once so wisely informed us, the only way is up.

Simon Thomas at 3g refers to an article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription only). “According to the publication, Apple will launch a larger 4.5in iPhone 6, alongside a phablet version with a display bigger than 5in. They also added that both will come with metal designs, although some caution should be excerpted (sic*) because they added that ‘Apple’s plans weren’t final’.”

 

iPhone 6 render

iPhone 6 concept, courtesy of Expert Reviews

 

Nice one, Simon – see how he made definite pronouncements (‘will launch’), but also handballed any blame (or credit, if we’re being our usual charitable selves) to another source and then carefully slipped in the coverall caveat – ‘Apple’s plans weren’t final’. Translation: nobody really knows anything. Yet.

Simon isn’t done though. “The larger ‘phablet’ version of the iPhone 6 could well be called the iPhone Pro when it lands later this year… So we’ve predicted the launch of the iPhone Air and iPhone Pro, but where is the iPhone mini? Could Apple rebrand the iPhone 5s as the iPhone mini, or perhaps they could launch a revised version of their current flagship to complete their next-gen iPhone range.”

Well, it’s a theory.

Over at Computerworld, regular Macworld Australia contributor Gregg Keizer is also hitching a ride on the ‘bigger’ bandwagon. And he’s talked to a bevy of analysts who point to leaked information from display makers and market forces.

Everybody’s Free (to Feel Good)

So bigger? More expensive, then?

Well no, not necessarily. Yazz can get back in her box on this point (or at least return to the Spanish church where she’s being hanging out for the last few years since she turned to religion – my, aren’t the current lives of former pop sensations fascinating?). But Rozalla might be pushing it.

Because MacDailyNews reckons “a cheap iPhone now appears a certainty”. Now, stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but it does sound curiously like the ‘certainties’ that flooded the internet before the release of the iPhone 5c. And how did that pan out, fellas? Hmmm.

Not a dating site, apparently.

Not this time. Things are definitely different this time. Quoting Ed McKernan from Seeking Alpha (surely that’s a sugar daddy dating service? Geoffrey Edelston, can you confirm?), the site says, “Time is still on the company’s side to adjust its business model; however, it seems obvious, given the worldwide commoditisation of smartphones, that Apple must make a significant adjustment on its business model by building only one high end model for the subsidised user and a much lower cost version for unsubsidised users. In other words, the iPhone 5c ended up being a tweener, not good enough to be a significant player in either universe.”

Keywords: must, obvious, not good enough…

Groove is in the Heart

Enough of this mealy-mouthed humming and ha-ing. We want to hear from someone who has something a little more concrete to say about the iPhone 6. Dear Readers (and especially you, Graham Slingsby), we give you expertreviews.co.uk.

Now doesn’t the very name inspire confidence? It actually says they’re experts in the title. And it’s a British site – not that we’re biased or anything**.

The chap with the lowdown on all rumours iPhone 6 – not just a wishy-washy, maybe, could be, we’d really like it if it… sampling – is called David Ludlow. And he’s got some hefty stuff to say about screen size (thinks there will only be one, and it’ll be bigger than the 5s), phone size (slimmer and, yes, called the iPhone Air), resolution (quadrupled to 2272 x 1280, but not full HD), release date (he’s going with March to May), robustness (super-tough sapphire screen and a liquid metal case***), camera (upped pixel count to 12 or 13 megapixels, refocusable lightfield and optical image stabilisation), storage (sticking at 64GB and not doubling to 128GB, despite its use in the iPad 4) and price.

 

iPhone 6 liquid metal

Explanation of liquid metal. Clear now? Thought so.

 

On the latter point, David is sitting on the opposite side of the fence to Ed McKernan. “If Apple does decide to make an iPhone with a larger screen, there’s also a good chance prices will increase too. Susquehanna analyst Chris Caso, speaking to AllThingsD, predicted that there could be a US$50 to US$100 premium for a larger iPhone 6, compared to the 4in iPhone 5s. Although this goes against Apple’s tradition of keeping prices the same across generations, it’s not a rule the company is afraid to break every now and then. Last month’s iPad mini with Retina display launch introduced a US$70 premium over the entry level model, so a price hike isn’t out of the question.

Well, there now. How do you like them apples, Graham? Deee-Lite (ful)?

Ride On Time

So much of our speculation about future Apple products and services starts back here. At the patent application process.

And this week there is a positive plethora of patents pending (sorry, we just spat on your shirt there). MacDailyNews has more, noting, “The public release of two new patents: a stylus that can produce both fine-point and thick strokes on a touchscreen, depending how the user orients the pen; and a solar-powered laptop whose**** rear panel includes touch controls and even a second screen.”

Quoting Michael Endler, the site admits, “Granted, these patents might exist as much to block competitors’ moves as to advance future Apple products. But with the PC market still fragile and the tablet market rapidly maturing, Apple, which has spent the last year iteratively improving products rather than aiming for game changers, might use 2014 to launch more attention-grabbing technologies.”

apple_pressure_patent1

See how it the pressure-sensitivity thing works? What do you mean, 'Not a clue'?

And there’s more. Just this morning MacRumors notes another new patent published at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This one is all about pressure sensitivity, focusing on “a system in which a traditional touchscreen is complemented by multiple force-sensors in order to better log unique gestures and more complex input,” says MacRumors. Will this technology show up in an iGadget any time soon? Only time will tell.

Unbelievable

Our friend Simon Thomas for 3G wasn’t all about the iPhone 6 this week. He did also take the time to talk tablets. Well, strictly speaking he was linking back to his article from earlier in the month, that claimed, “Apple set to launch 12in iPad Pro later this year”. We do love a bold headline.

Once it’s out there of course, it becomes set in stone, naturally. So, in this week’s musings on the new larger screened iPhone 6, he referred to his prior posting. “While, the larger ‘phablet’ version of the iPhone 6 could well be called the iPhone Pro when it lands later this year. That would sit alongside the new 12.2in iPad Pro which is due to be revealed later this year and will complete the iPad range (iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad Pro).

So that’s that then. Carved in granite. In granite, we tell you. Apart from the bits that are total guesses. Or downright ‘unbelievable‘…

And that rounds off the Rumour Mill for the week ending 31 January 2014. Remember, things can only get better…

 

* And we’re struggling a little with ‘excerpted’. We’re guessing a typo, but for what? Exercised? Expended? Expected? Expectorated?? No, probably not.

** Yes, we really, really are. Genetics will out.

*** And, no, that doesn’t mean it’ll drip all over your pockets/bags – it’s a construction thing.

**** You know, it really should be “the laptop the rear panel of which…” because that laptop isn’t a person, MDN. Forgive us this day our daily pedantry…

One Comment

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  1. DutchAussie says:

    Good, witty article.
    Thanks.

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