Rumour Mill

Madeleine Swain
17 January, 2014
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In case you hadn’t noticed, the headquarters of the Rumour Mill, sunny old Melbourne town, has been feeling the heat a little bit this week. No, not from irate Apple execs chasing us down for daring to reprint all the scuttlebutt and unsubstantiated nonsense that’s being flooding the interwebs of late. No, we’re talking quite literally here.

It’s just been ‘Too Darn Hot’. Hence (in case you were wondering) the snap of the lovely Anne Miller performing that number from Kiss Me Kate in the top right corner… A series of 40+ Celsius days has left the Rumour Miller just a touch fuzzy and frazzled around the edges. And maybe that’s why we’re starting this week’s round-up with a rumour about a company… that’s not Apple. Yep, you read that right. In a sure sign that the world (and its climate) has turned irrevocably on its head, we’re kicking off today’s proceedings with a snippet about Samsung. Yes, the Dark Star. But, as ever, we ask you kindly to bear with us. There’s a reason for it, honestly.


Sincerest form of flattery and all that…

The Samsung rumour revolves around the South Korean company’s fancy pants Galaxy smartphone and the plans for its next iteration. It’s been suggested that the next version of the Galaxy S5 may come in two versions – a metal version and a plastic one. Yes, now you see where we’re coming from.

The thinking is that Samsung is looking to jump onto the Apple bandwagon and copy what the Cupertino, California company did with its latest iPhones, the 5s and 5c. And that’s why Apple Insider was so keen to share the news with the world, sourcing its story from “normally reliable Samsung watchers” SamMobile.

“Samsung is also considering adding biometric authentication capabilities to the handset in order to counter Apple’s popular Touch ID feature. Samsung mobile executive Lee Young Hee said last week that ‘many people are fanatical about iris recognition technology’ and that Samsung was ‘studying the possibility’ of including it in the Galaxy S5,” reports Apple Insider.

A fast boat to China?

So, back to the main company. It’s been all about China this week – what with Tim Cook releasing the sales figures in the region for the fourth-quarter of 2013 and the much discussed partnership with China Mobile kicking into action today (Friday 17 January). It’s no surprise then that Wall Street is paying particular attention to this part of the world.

When not disseminating Samsung stories, Apple Insider also made time to report some speculation from Piper Jaffray analyst, Gene Munster, regarding Apple’s holiday earnings. “Munster predicted in a note to investors on Tuesday that Apple’s guidance for the upcoming March 2014 quarter should benefit from the sale of about three million additional iPhones through China Mobile, which is the world’s largest wireless provider. He expects the addition of China Mobile will be the ‘biggest focus’ for investors intently listening to the company’s scheduled 27 January conference call,” says Neil Hughes at Apple Insider.


A faster boat from Taiwan?

Now, let’s get back to some good old, iPhone 6 gossip. The venerable MacRumors reckons the supplier of Apple’s fingerprint sensor Touch ID, TSMC (Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), is looking at a pretty busy second quarter in 2014.

Citing a report from Digitimes, the website says, “TSMC will be shifting to a larger 12in fab (rication) from the current 8in fab, a move that should increase production efficiency.” Digitimes notes how constrained supplies of the iPhone 5s at its launch last year was blamed on supply issued with Touch ID.

With TSMC ramping up production and assuming a previously outsourced role, this should hopefully not be a problem with the next iPhone launch. “In order to ensure the yield rates of the new fingerprint sensors, TSMC is also expected to handle the backend wafer level-chip scale packaging (WL-CSP) process in-house, instead of subcontracting the packaging process to IC backend service firms as done previously, the sources revealed,” says Digitimes.


iPhone, uPhone, we all scream for…

And when can we expect to see the iPhone (iPhone 6/iPhone Air – take your pick)? Here’s a radical thought. Well-known Apple guru site (huh? Ed) Motoringcrunch believes that the bargain bin status of the current iPhone 5s and 5c has “sparked off speculation that we may see an early release of the Apple iPhone 6″. Bargain bin?? Whaaaat? We certainly haven’t noticed any of Apple’s flagship phones hanging around disconsolately with the polyester shirts and opened packets of undies at our local Forges or Dimmeys, but clearly we’re just in the wrong hemisphere.

“Best Buy, Walmart and MacMall have all lowered the price tags of the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c. Walmart started sales on the run-up to the holidays; they offered the Apple iPhone 5c for US$27 when taken with a two-year contract. Originally, the phone cost US$99. Many more retailers have offered the handset with price reductions, despite Apple only launching it in September of last year,” says Motoringcrunch. Blimey. We’re moving.


Iphone 6 concept

iPhone 6 concept, courtesy of Business Insider Australia

But back to the point. The early release of an iPhone 6. And to be honest, it’s one on which Motoringcrunch seems to be a little vague. “It is not unusual to see price drops on devices at the holidays but the Apple SRP is generally controlled tightly by Apple, however the cost of the Apple iPhone 5c has been dropping ever since the handset was launched. The drop in price has sparked rumours that we could be about to see the launch of the Apple iPhone 6.” Yes, yes, but when?

You know that thing, when someone has absolutely no answer to the question you just asked them, and so tries to divert/distract with some other completely meaningless and unsubstantiated rumours?

We give you Motoringcrunch… “Rumours have been going around that the iPhone 6 may have a larger display, possibly around 4.8in to 6in. It could run on the 64-bit processor, have M7 graphics and of course the fingerprint scanner seen on the iPhone 5s. A patent from Apple also suggested that Apple could be looking into launching the iPhone 6 with a curved display.” (Rumour Mill’s italics…)

That’s it? Hmmm, thrilling. Well you could  be a reputable and reliable source on all things Apple. Or you could be just about as well-informed and clued in as, oh, we don’t know… us? But, to be fair, you’re not alone.

The Inquirer hasn’t got a great deal more to offer, although it does have a few more suggestions. ”More recent rumours seem to have slapped down talk of a curved iPhone, and while talk of 4.7in and 5.5in screen sizes continues, it’s unlikely that these displays will be bent. Saying that, there is talk that Apple will improve its Retina display screen resolution with the next-generation iPhone, outing the even higher-resolution Retina display+,” says the site.

The Inquirer promises to update regularly with all the latest suggestions and rumours about the new smartphone. You can read all its current contributions here.

And that’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 17 January 2014. Keep cool out there…

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