Taiwanese sources claim that Apple is working on several new products including new iPhones for business executives and wireless audio systems that will allow music to be played directly from an iPod, iPhone and the Apple range of PCs and notebooks direct to a new generation of wireless speakers.
We are also told that Apple has formed a close relationship with Cisco and that the two companies are hoping to launch by early 2008 a brand new Apple network box that will be a cross between the Apple TV solution and a traditional media centre. Major differences will the networking capability of the box and its integration with other Apple and Cisco products.
Three months ago Cisco invested in an Australian Company Avega Systems which has developed new wireless technology that allows content to be streamed to wireless speakers from various devices.
Several major vendors including Apple have held discussions with the company. It is also expected that over the next few weeks at least three major Hi Fi Companies will announce products incorporating the Avega technology.
Taiwanese sources have also confirmed that Apple is looking at three new versions of the Apple iPhone. One version will be for non US markets and will include several new features not found in the current model on sale in the US.
Another model being considered by Apple and is currently with Taiwanese manufacturers for costing is a business model of the iPhone. Sources in Taiwan say that Apple has been working closely with Google and that the new phone will incorporate software which will incorporate new business features developed by both Apple and Google. Among the features will be a suite of applications that deliver fast email, messaging and direction information. It will also incorporate GPS information and can be used as a navigation aid in cities where Google has a mapping service.
Senior Apple executives in Australia have said that a new iPod will go on sale in mid 2008 and that it will not be the current Apple iPhone that is on sale in the USA.
Rob Small Marketing Director at Apple Australia said, “We are currently in discussions with carriers in Australia. We anticipate that the new iPhone will go on sale in 2008, however it will not be the same model that is being sold in the USA. We have to make both hardware and software changes. For example, to log into iTunes using the current model iPhone one needs a US social security number. There are also issues with connectivity to carrier networks that have to be addressed.”
It has also been confirmed that Apple is looking at a stripped down version of the iPhone.
Analysts are predicting that Apple will shortly release a smaller, cheaper version of the iPhone on similar lines to the iPod Nano.
Reports suggest that the smaller iPhone will sell at around half the price of the current models, and will have a similar form factor to the Nano with a scroll wheel for navigation and dialling.
“We believe that the iPod Nano will be converted into a phone because it is probably the only way for Apple to launch a lower-end phone without severely cannibalizing the iPod Nano,” Kevin Chang, a JP Morgan analyst based in Taiwan, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Chang cited rumours from Taiwanese hardware suppliers, which provide most of the parts for Apple’s hardware, and an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office on 5 July for a “multifunctional handheld device with a circular touch pad control”.
The analyst predicted that the device would cost around half that of the current iPhone models, which retail at $499 and $599, and that this would dramatically increase sales.
Sales of 10 million units are predicted for the current iPhone range by the end of next year, but Chang predicted sales of 30 to 40 million for the smaller device.
Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, largely agrees with Chang. “We believe that the iPhone reveals much of what the iPod will soon be,” he said.
“IPods with some of the touch-screen features of the iPhone should lessen the impact of cannibalisation.”