Posts filed under ‘UMPC’
I have some new insight to share with you regarding the portable device Apple is working on. In a previous article, I described the mysterious portable as perhaps Apple’s rival product to the Intel Ultra Mobile PC ( UMPC ) initiative. In talking to several sources close to the secretive project, a few more details have emerged while the actual identity of the device is still shrouded in mystery.
First Some Background
I was first tipped on the existence of plans for a previously unknown Apple portable device, somewhat larger than the current iPhone, a few months ago. The device was described as having a touch screen and best suited to be gripped with both hands. A little later, another source provided a key piece of evidence that pointed to Apple working with the German company Balda on securing 5.2″ touch panels ( more than likely pre-production units ) for an unknown device. This tip was crucial in determining the approximate size of the device and where it best fits in the Apple product lineup. Balda is one of a handful of companies that design and manufacture ( in Xiamen, China) high scratch and shatter resistant, multi-touch capable displays for mobile handsets and is thought to have received orders for Apple iPhone. However, Balda’s financial troubles and its recent sale to KS Plastic Solutions cast doubts on its future as a supplier to Apple. The final contract to produce these panels may be in fact be awarded to Wintek, an Asian component supplier, or Samsung, the electronics giant which also has the multi-touch technology.
What We Know Now
In the previous article, I concluded that the mysterious device could be an ultra-portable Mac and the expectations were that Apple may officially announce its support for the new Intel Silverthorne processor at Macworld ’08 and/or the iPhone SDK may see an early release. Why Silverthorne and the SDK? The new Intel Silverthorne is ideally suited for ultra-portable computing devices such as this one, hence substantially clarifying the purpose of the device. The iPhone SDK would have also provided crucial insight into the capabilities of the present Apple touch-sensitive platform including possible support for larger screens and/or alternative input methods. However neither of these 2 scenarios played out, in fact the release of the iPhone SDK was officially pushed back to the end of February. This prompted me to further inquire to see if there’s a connection between this portable device and the SDK. According to my sources, the new device is more than likely based on Apple’s current portable platform ( ie. iPhone/Touch ) and once the SDK is released, a little digging inside the platform interface should reveal the extent of the platform’s capabilities and Apple’s plans for the portable multi-touch lineup. Moreover, 3G is part of the device specs with WiFi included as well.
What We Can Conclude
Based on what we know to date, the mysterious device resembles less an Ultra Mobile Mac and more an upper model iPhone or a more capable next gen iPod Touch. In other words, the portable’s hardware seem to suggest not a fully capable and portable Mac but a device which depends heavily on wireless connectivity. Likely it’s Apple’s version of the Intel MID ( Mobile Internet Device ) showcased at CES ’08. With the limited wireless sharing of content between machines premiering on the optical drive-less MacBook Air, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple introduced a device that lets users pull media content from their computers and play on a thin portable client and even run small native apps using the device’s limited resources. Such a device is likely a year from introduction although, due to its 3G capability, may be introduced a full six months before being shipped ( similar to iPhone ) to clear the FCC hurdle.
Well, this is certainly very interesting. Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times technology and computer columnist predicts that Apple will introduce a new portable iDevice in 2008. The description of this new device matches very closely to what I’ve already revealed from my source to be an Apple UMPC ( Ultra Mobile PC ). Ihnatko writes:
“Apple’s new platform: Look at the puzzle pieces. A sophisticated, gesture-based user interface. OS X running on nontraditional devices. A new developer environment and API for iDevices that was so tricky that Apple couldn’t release it or even hint at it until three months after the iPhone was released… and even then, only under duress. Features embedded in Mac OS that help you invisibly tether two OS X devices’ resources together, whether they’re in the same room or merely on the same planet. A movement from Apple to put the bulk of its energy into consumer products and not computer products.”
“I’m fairly sure that 2008 will see an entire new platform. The iPhone is a phone, and the iPod touch is an iPhone without the phone stuff. The next i-Suffix will be a totally new thing. Not a Mac… not really. An iPhone, kind of, but sort of not. Take the screen off a MacBook and slice it in two vertically. That’s the device. It’ll play media—including Office documents, PDFs, and e-books—from its 16GB of flash storage. It’ll have Wi-Fi and the Safari browser… maybe even 3G or EDGE, as with an iPhone. It will secure-tunnel back to your home Mac or PC, and you’ll be able to use this thing to access any resources you might have left behind. It will put every digital resource you have at your fingertips, in one compact black slate.”
“It will run native software, too. Curious, isn’t it, that in October Steve Jobs announced that Apple wouldn’t be taking the wrapper off the iPhone developers’ kit until February? It’s almost as if the resources that are plainly available in the SDK would have spilled the beans on the device Steve intends to unveil during his Macworld Expo keynote in January.”
“Maybe I’m spot-on with this. Maybe not. But I’ll make one prediction about Apple’s hot new product of 2008 that I’ll stand behind without any waffling: whatever it is, people will complain that it costs way too much money, and they’ll happily stand in line for a minimum of 18 hours to get one.”
Does Ihnatko know something or has he simply been browsing the web looking for some interesting clues to support his predictions? Assuming that he does indeed know something, I’ll be contacting my sources to see if I can find out more details about the features of this secretive device.
I have been working on gathering more information about a new Apple portable device from several different sources during the past 6 months. I have pieced together the puzzle which portrays a picture of what can be perhaps best described as Apple’s rival product to the Intel Ultra Mobile PC ( UMPC ) initiative which has unsuccessfully tried to marry Microsoft’s Windows OS to a highly portable computing platform.
My strongest piece of evidence came from a trusted tipster about 4 months ago who described an image s(he) had seen of a mysterious touch screen device larger than the iPhone featuring one distinguishing button or depression on each side. At the time, unsure about the actual size of this new device, I reasoned that it could be a new generation of iPhone/iPod Touch or the much rumored Apple tablet. However, the device was later described to have been oriented horizontally on its long end, indicating that it was meant to be gripped with one hand on each side similar to a Sony PSP. This ruled out the Apple tablet which is, more than likely, a significantly larger device. It also ruled out iPod Touch since I have been previously tipped on the forward path of the iPod lineup by different sources, essentially confirming that touch screen iPods will not grow much in screen size.
Then about a month ago, another source revealed that Apple has shown significant interest in a 5.2″ 800 x 480 pixel touch screen design by Balda, a German company and the current iPhone screen supplier, and Wintek, an Asian component supplier. This second piece of evidence reveals the real purpose of this new device, an ultra mobile device occupying a position between the 3.5″ iPhone and the much rumored 7-10 inch Apple tablet. There was also a previous article I wrote which highlighted Apple’s sudden concern for flash memory supplies in 2008, despite industry predictions for next year which emphasize greater production and softer demand. This further confirms that Apple is working on a new device due sometime in 2008 that will put strains on the flash memory supply chain.
One thing not seen by any of my sources is a keyboard: it’s clear Apple will not be using a physical QWERT keyboard for this device, instead relying on its patented multi-touch screen as the sole interface for user input. This may be the reason why some have speculated that Apple may be on the verge of introducing a new generation of its famed Newton PDA. However, I firmly believe that the shrinking market for dedicated PDAs puts those speculations to rest, although various PDA functionalities may in fact be included in the final version of the device.
This new Apple device, which could be an Ultra Mobile Computer, has not been sighted out and about the Apple campus or even in the area normally designated for testing new Apple products, suggesting that it’s still in the software and hardware design period. Once it’s physically spotted outside Apple’s secretive labs, we may see an actual product release of 6-8 months, closely following other new Apple product introductions.
Above is a rendition of this new device based on what we know so far.
The illustration above seems to have unintentionally irked a lot of people. Articles are often accompanied by a picture to make their point more clear to readers. As you read this post, it should become pretty clear that the illustration was meant to compliment the details that were revealed rather than become a focal point of the article. The article reveals hardware details and not the potential styling of this device.