This week: the war of the Home buttons, how to make the next iPhone really thin, blaming iPhone 4S buyers for "delaying" iPhone 5 and for making it, already, a dud.
You read it here second.
"Though there are still hundreds of thousands of die-hard Apple-heads, a growing number of them are questioning the future of Apple, and just what the iPhone 5 release date will bring." ~ International Business Times, discovering and uncovering a Disturbing and Ominous Trend in the comments by two users on a Mac Rumors forum.
iPhone 5 will have a redesigned Home button, and it will be round or maybe rounded square
In the iOSphere, it's easy to lose a sense of perspective. All the talk about the wondrous Liquidmetal, and LTE, and quad-core processors obscures what is really important, what is really worthy of obsession.
The iPhone Home button.
WATCH OUT, APPLE: Samsung, Qualcomm positioned to dominate LTE patent wars
In a truly confused and confusing post at a website called Mobile & Apps, we learn that the current iPhone's round Home button will be redesigned to be ... round in the Next iPhone.
The basis of the scoop by Vamien McKalin is a posting at the website of a Chinese replacement parts supplier, called Truesupplier, showing something labeled "OEM Apple iPhone 5 Home Button Key." A steal at $8.99.
"There have been many rumors about the new iPhone 5, but this latest from the mill seems legitimate, and that is mainly because of the source," McKalin writes, oblivious to the irony of the term "legitimate rumor." He says the new button revealed by Truesupplier "looks different" from the current button: It has a "round design which looks similar to the iPhone icons we've come to love and hate over the years." Therefore, "this might give us an idea on what the UI design could look like when the iPhone 5 hits store shelves later in the year."
Rollup is a tad skeptical that the iPhone's Home button is a reliable indicator of changes to the iOS user interface.
"TrueSupplier has images of a side by side comparison of both the rumored new button, and the one on the iPhone 4S," he writes. But what the side-by-side images on the website actually seem to show are top and bottom views of the "new" button. But since both the existing and new buttons are round, it's a bit confusing unless what McKalin means is that the "new" button is convex, instead of concave.
That might be kind of a big deal. Or maybe not.
"The changes are clearly seen, though not really a huge chance to warrant any form of excitement," he concludes.
The new button "suggests that Apple might release the iPhone 5 without a touch sensitive button. However, we're not sure if that is a good idea or not ...," McKalin writes. We're not sure either because if you press a button that's not touch-sensitive, then the button wouldn't, you know, do anything. But McKalin actually might mean that it wouldn't be a "virtual" or on-screen button. That's a rumor that surfaced in 2011, the idea being if Apple turned the physical button into an on-screen button, there's be more room for a larger display.
And that observation, alas, brings us to Button Rumor, Part Deux. Apple Bitch noticed that a parts seller, TVC-Mall.com of Shenzhen, China, also briefly showed on its website a Home button listed under iPhone 5 replacement parts. "The biggest surprise, or perhaps disappointment, for some is that the Home buttons appear to be round in shape. If the parts turn out to be genuine, then this would essentially quash any suggestion that Apple was redesigning the iPhone 5 with an oval touch capacitive Home button," Apple Bitch noted somberly.
Quash. Crush. Shatter. Devastate. Especially so when the source, TVC-Mall, is "fairly credible," according to GottaBeMobile's Adam Mills, who claims that the parts seller in the past "offered up parts of unreleased Apple products." Rollup thinks he forgot to modify "offered" with an adverb, like purportedly or allegedly or even hilariously.
Amazingly, there seems to be some confusion as to the new button's actual shape. Apple Bitch says it's "rounded" but GottaBeMobile agrees with Mac Rumors that it has a "rounded square" look.
Lisa Eadicicco, writing at International Business Times, adopted the iOSphere's distinctive Faux-Rational Tone that kids use when they're trying to sound grown-up. "However, none of this is for certain until Apple finally unveils its latest creation," she announced, as if discovering and sharing a fundamental principle of the Apple Universe.
But all this sturm und quash is in the eagle eye and passionate heart of the technorati. What of the great unwashed consumers? "It's unclear though if this change, if real, will be evident to consumers as that rounded square part of the button might sit below the surface of the phone's bezel rendering it invisible to users," Mills observes.
So apparently all they would see is ... the exact same button that they see today when they gaze fondly upon the face of iPhone 4 or 4S.
"There has been quite a bit of chatter regarding an oval shaped home button or the lack of a home button at all. But, for now, it appears that Apple will be sticking to its guns," he rather glumly concludes.
In the Great Button Battle, Apple is standing its ground on round.
Rumor recycling: iPhone 5 will be thinner, at 7.9 mm, due to "in-cell" display technology
Two overseas news sites, with different sources, say the Next iPhone will use a different and thinner display technology. One post cites an analyst with market research firm DisplaySearch. The second post cites "sources in Apple's supply chain."
The new technology is called "in cell" which, technically, smoodges together what had been separate layers making up the display. The idea isn't new and Rollup examined a flurry of rumors about it in March.
Of somewhat more interest, not to mention credibility, is AppleInsider's regurgitation of an analyst's report, by Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, that calculates that Apple could shave off 0.44 mm, or a whopping 0.0173 inches, from the iPhone's thickness. That would be the thickness of the wall of some hypodermic tubing.
But Kuo also figures that if Apple uses a thinner battery and a metal back instead of glass, Apple could make the iPhone 5 thinner by another 0.96 mm, or 0.0379 inches, for a total reduction of [drumroll please!] 0.05512 inches. That is, apparently, the thickness of a U.S. penny, or of a miniSD Card.
You would be holding a Next iPhone that would be a sleekly thin 0.31 inches instead of the awkward bulky 0.37-inch brick you have to struggle with today.
It can't get here soon enough.
iPhone 5 will be released in October and you can blame 35.1 million iPhone 4S buyers
"If you were hoping for a radically redesigned iPhone 5 to come out really, really soon, you now officially have 35.1 million of your peers to blame," says Jason Gilbert, writing at The Huffington Post.
You see, Gilbert explains, Apple in October 2011 released the disappointing, cosmetically unchanged iPhone 4S, as he himself and so many, many, many others in the iOSphere pointed out ad nauseam, a phone that didn't deserve to be bought.
"In this case, however, the continued strong demand for the iPhone 4S -- which many, including this columnist, lamented in October was cosmetically unchanged from the iPhone 4 -- would seem to indicate one thing: There's no real reason for Apple to radically redesign the iPhone, nor is there any pressure for Apple to rush out with an updated iPhone," Gilbert explains.
"Now, if you were Apple -- walk down this imagination alley with me -- and sales of the iPhone 4S were still so astronomically high, especially in emerging markets where the phone was just released months ago: Would you be hurrying to get out a new iPhone in three months?" Gilbert asks, rhetorically.
But just in case you're unsure, he tells you. "No, you wouldn't. You would be happy to ride out these strong sales as long as you could. You would be happy to wait until the iPhone's natural life cycle (one year) had run. You would be patient, and let the money shower over your head, and you would laugh, and laugh, and laugh, until the money stopped raining."
Apple must be a darn jolly place to work these days.
"In other words, you would be glad to wait until at least the fall to release your sixth-generation iPhone, which, given these numbers, it now seems certain that Apple will do," Gilbert concludes.
iPhone 5 will be a disappointing dud because one user is bored with his iPhone 4S
International Business Times doesn't sit around making up its own rumors. It goes hunting for them, "reporting the Web" as we now say in the News Business, which is much less of a business than it once was.
IBT found a post at the Mac Rumor forums by Arcadia310, not-so-proud owner of his first iPhone, an iPhone 4S to be exact. From his complaints, and an additional comment in the thread, IBT crafted a full-blown "story," with the headline, "IPhone 5 Release Date 2012: Apple Fans Predicting A Dud."
Apparently, the fans aren't taking seriously the rumors about quad-core processors, Liquidmetal casings, bigger screens (or smaller ones, if you're into the iPhone Nano Conspiracy), and shaving off a few millimeters of thickness.
Instead, they're reliving the agonizing "disappointment" of the iPhone 4S, when everyone who knew anything expected the iPhone 5, radically redesigned, revolutionary, and generally just really awesome.
"This seems to be a trend of sorts, as the release of the New iPad in March was a major disappointment for many who expected a paradigm-shifting iPad 3 and instead got a tablet that barely matches the stats of its competitors," observes IBT.
Those would be the competitors, mainly Android tablet makers, with their paradigm shifting tablets that almost no one is buying. The most successful Android tablet in the U.S.? Amazon's Kindle Fire, which according to comScore now has 54.4% of the Android tablet market.
Amazon sold an estimated 4 million of the tablets in Q4 2011. During the same period, before the release of the new iPad, Apple sold about 15 million iPads.
But IBT can see through this superficial success to the real truth, in fact a Trend. "Though there are still hundreds of thousands of die-hard Apple-heads, a growing number of them are questioning the future of Apple, and just what the iPhone 5 release date will bring."
"This trend of over-hyped yet disappointingly-bland products being released each year by Apple appears to have contributed to a level of discontent that is bubbling just under the surface in the minds of many Apple fans," IBT somberly notes.
For Arcadia310, the cup of discontent has runneth over.
"I've been using the iPhone 4S as my daily driver since launch day and it's been a good experience!" he says. "Battery life is superb, the screen is gorgeous, and the OS is really fluid."
One braces for the but-however.
"However, during this past week things have started to get dull," he reveals. "I feel that overall iOS lacks creativity. It's just pages of colorful icons on a small screen. Sure, when it first came out in 2007 it was revolutionary, but it's been 4 years and it looks almost exactly the same!"
It is pretty outrageous, let's be honest. And you don't have to use it for four years to get bored. Arcadia has been using it on his new iPhone 4S for just six months.
"Apple is one of my favorite companies but I truly feel that they are resting on their laurels, just like RIM and other companies have before they went down hill," he says, ominously. By contrast, those successful tech pioneers like Samsung and Motorola "are upgrading their technology dramatically each year."
But Apple? "They released the exact same phone [the 4S] with a dual core processor, improved cameras, Siri, and called it a wrap," he says. "I personally know a lot of long time iPhone users who are now checking out Android and other OS's because their iPhone just feels boring to them."
"If Apple doesn't bring the heat with iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, I truly believe the company will be headed down hill," predicts Arcadia310. "Google is innovating at an alarming rate and Ice Cream Sandwich opens up an entirely new gateway of possibilities. NFC is going to take off in these next 2 years and Apple has no answer for it. These are just the honest opinions from a tech fanatic."
But for International Business Times, these are far, far more than that: They're a bona fide Trend. And IBT can prove it, because another poster on the same thread agreed with Arcadia310.
"Apple has exceptional skills in many areas," comments vitzr. "One of which is milking a model for all it's worth before adding features that are already present in the competition. They know exactly how much their customers will let them get away with."
Which is, apparently, a whole lot.
"An example is how the first iPhone was shipped as an EDGE device when every other smartphone at that time had 3G," vitzr writes.
And he doesn't stop there. "Now a full two generations behind, they are still pushing the tiny 3.5" display," he complains. "Not only is that the smallest of any but they've got their followers convinced it's the perfect size. If other manufacturers also had cult like followers that would defend their companies position like Apple does, the playing field would be level."
If only the mass of Apple followers weren't such cult-loving, mindless sheep, vitzr could get a phone that was two generations ahead instead of two behind. The reason Apple doesn't innovate is because those idiots keep buying the iPhone in record numbers.
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
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.