The Time is Right For an Apple Phone (if it’s any good)

by Chris Seibold Jan 04, 2007

Since the Mac mini specs were leaked prior to Macworld ‘05 Steve Jobs has been plugging holes in the security of the good ship Apple at a pace that would make Noah envious. Of course where Noah used pitch and tar, Steve relied on lawsuits and displays of petulance. The methods seemed to have worked, the rumor sites aren’t nailing anything surprising anymore and the supposed “inside scoops” about Macworld are obviously guesses.

Since the rumor sites can’t seem to get it right (here’s a rumor for ya: iLife ‘07, take it to the bank!) those who suffer from the affliction that is DAC (Deep Apple Curiosity) have to turn to sources that are both more and less traditional. For example, if wondered where the chip roadmap was headed the Wall Street Journal was the place to go, if you’re wondering if Apple is making a cell phone you might want to pay attention to Bill Gates, Ed Zander, assorted futurists and other CEOs. The prevailing opinion is that Apple will someday be forced to make cell phone to keep abreast of the ever changing gadget market.

The problem with waiting until cell phones are eating into iPod territory is much like waiting to see termite damage before you try to stamp out nature’s little miracle of cellulose digestion: you can stop the bleeding, but you’ve still suffered damage. Thus it is in Apple’s self interest to be proactive with the cell phone iPod problem opportunity.

This is the year to do it. 06 saw the emergence of the Zune, sure the thing immediately flopped (rumor is that 98.05% of all Zunes are reaching for their life alert buttons) but the message was clear, Microsoft wants a piece of the action. If the Zune wasn’t threatening enough, cell phone makers are stepping up to the plate with models like the Chocolate. Finally, since fearsome things should come in threes, everyone is trying to do an iTunes store end around. That is a long list of worries, worries that can all be addressed by introducing an Apple branded cell phone.

Since an Apple branded cell phone seems like plausible idea the question becomes what can Apple do to make such a device compelling? The most obvious thing is to add the necessary cell phone bits to and iPod, come up with some stupid name for the thing (iPro Mac Phone or some equally cumbersome moniker) and start peddling it to the folks who can’t get enough Apple magic in their lives.

The trouble with that scenario is two fold. First, the number of people who can’t get enough Apple products might be large enough to sustain a company but there aren’t enough blind adherents to all things Apple to make a dent in the cell phone market. For evidence, take a look at the iPod Hi Fi. Seondly, an iPod with phone functions slapped on, no matter how elegantly done, is too much of a “me too” type of thing not to mention monumentally unexciting. So if the Apple phone turns out to be nothing more than an iPod with buttons you’ll not only hear a collective groan of disappointment you’ll also know that the stock option controversy has left Steve Jobs doing little more than going through the motions.

Apple usually doesn’t just go through the motions, if there is an opportunity and the company sees dollar signs in the move the powers that be at Apple go after it full force. Couple this with the ways more and more people all using their cell phones. You’ve got Michael Richards caught on flash delivering a racial tirade that would make Mel Gibson jealous and more recently the execution of Saddam Hussein. People taking snaps with their cell phones is nothing new even though the results are usually less than palatable. Don’t forget texting, all the coolest people are doing it or rather….411 7H3 C001357 P30P13 4R3 D0IN6 I7. That gives you video, pictures, text messaging and actually talking.

Turns out Apple has a suite of programs that let you handle all of those chores elegantly, it’s called iLife and Steve Jobs loves talking about it at Macworld. Now cramming iLife on a cell phone seems like a tall order, the current bundle of apps takes up gigabytes of space on a hard drive, far too much to fit on a cell phone. Stripped down versions of select iLife apps tailored made for an Apple phone? Seems like a possibility. Under this scenario, a phone could be used for a little light video editing, photo duties, video chatting and transferring the whole mess to youtube or (in Zune speak) squirt it to your buddy.

Will it happen? Probably not, while the phone would have a certain appeal to geeky walking among us the vast majority of people just want a freaking phone not commitment to the cutting edge of technology. Yet the prospect of Apple making a phone that makes all the capabilities of the phone easy, if not actually pleasing to use is a tantalizing thought.


  • It’s gonna be a WI-FI phone, not only because Apple won’t want to deal with the carriers and face competition like Moto or Nokia, but also because it’s a huge market screaming for a friendly, Apple-quality approach and product.

    I’ve got 2 more long-winded posts on this at my blog,

    PlayballTim had this to say on Jan 04, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Oh, come on, nobody’s gonna want to limit a mobile phone to mostly non-existent WIFI spots!

    Go over to Aaron Adam’s Lame-ass Blog ( for a good case for a VOIP phone function.  The business case for that beats the idea of a mobile phone hands down!

    rahrens had this to say on Jan 05, 2007 Posts: 18
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