Monday, May 29, 2006

Will Apple release a phone?

One of the early posts on this blog had to do with speculation last year that Apple would release a mobile phone in the near future (check out that older post here). Today, an article in Wired talked about the supposedly necessary convergence of the mobile phone and the mp3 player. One of the points the author made (one that I agreed with, though I don't own a mobile phone) was that if such a marriage is to be successful, it would have to be as easy to use as the iPod is.

Though I don't own a mobile phone, my impression is that most of them have a lot of bells and whistles that most people don't use because they are too complicated. Which is where Apple comes in. But I don't think Steve Jobs and Company will, or should, come out with a simple "iPhone," mostly because the competition has too much of a head start in the field.

But while Apple would normally have trouble getting a toe-hold in the mobile phone business, they have a huge lead in the mp3 player side of things, and I think they could become a major player if the next iPod they release has some sort of mobile functionality too. In other words, this wouldn't be a phone that plays music, it would be an iPod that does mobile. With flash memory getting cheaper and cheaper, I think a 4- or 8-Gb flash-based iPod with telephone (and Bluetooth) functionality would be a big hit. And one of the main draws would be simplicity of design. Much of the work is already done, with contact and calendar info already integrated into the iPod OS. Just add a slip-out numeric keypad, or evolve the click wheel along these lines and you're off to the races. Heck, I would even consider getting one.

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