Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Will we see a flip iPhone?

Will Apple go forward and make a flip iPhine based on the recently uncovered patent for "dual slided trackpad"?

The simple idea of Apple expanding its mobile product line seams very logical. After all Nokia which is the world'leader in mobile platforms has hundreds of models, potentialy appealing to a wider group of people.

On a first glance the all historic trends, lead us to the answer of YES. However a detailed look reveals another story.

First, what are the benefits of the flip-flop form factor compared to the bar form factor of the iPhone?

  • smaller height
  • better screen protection

And the disadvantages?

  • larger thickness
  • less space efficiency
  • moving parts prone to failure
  • hampered landscape operation
  • case unfriendly design
  • modification of software

The iPhone has been a tremendous success in the mobile market in the US. Yet there are a decreasing number of featured still missing that have limited its success outside of the States:

  • lack of 3G
  • GPS-like guidance
  • Enterprise integration
  • 3rd party software
  • world wide availability

All of these are going to be addressed before the year is up, if Apple lives up to its promises.

We see that that the true iPhone weaknesses have nothing to do with the advantages of adapting a flip form factor. What it more, such a design change will add a lot more disadvantages that benefits.

Further, one has to ask itself the following question. Wouln't Apple be admitting that its present design is not perfect by introduction of a flip iPhone?

The imaginary flip iPhone design might look cool on a first glance but its just unreal and unpractical. The Photoshop artist has conveniently eliminated the portions the iPhone housing the camera, the sim card, the dock connector, the speaker, and he mike. What is more, the device will have to be held by its thinnest part according to the orientation of the displays.

Obviously this is nothing more than a fan made traffic/hype generating image.

What, of the patent then?Isn't that a confirmation that Apple is working on something? Not necessarily. Patents are about ideas, not production hardware. Apple is probably just making sure that only they can develop a design with such features if necessary.

At the end it's really more of a question whether Apple realy needs to make another phone model? Whether Apple should invest in making a larger variety rather than one extreemply high quality product? Given the logistics nightmare of larger handsets variety, I think the present situaltion is well supported by the success of the iPhone so far.

Besides , the iPhone is not just a model but rather a platform. A platform that is yet to show its full potential after the realease of the 3G chip and the 2.0 software update in June.

There is only one iPhone, and I think things will stay that way.

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