Apple is planning a massive overhaul of their iPhone platform ahead of an onslaught of new Google Android phones from the likes of HTC, Samsung and Motorola. Among the new offerings it is tipped that Apple will launch a 32GB iPhone along with video camera recording capability and their new OS 3.0 software upgrade which includes up to 100 new features.
Last week Apple placed orders for over 100 million 8-Gb NAND flash chips from Samsung according to DigiTimes in a move that analysts say will force up the price of flash memory for other phone manufacturers.
A Think Equity Partners report released in February said that the Apple flash memory order almost exhausted Samsung’s flash memory supply and that Apple was now turning to Toshiba and memory maker Hynix for additional supply.
It is expected that the new phone will be released to coincide with Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
Another catalyst for new iPhone speculation is the unveiling last month of iPhone OS 3.0 software, which will add new features such as copy and paste, peer-to-peer networking and new business models for applications.
A hint of what is set to come can be found in the already announced software upgrades for the iPhone which will include video-recording capabilities and a higher resolution camera with 3.2 megapixels.
In Australia recently carriers like Vodafone and Optus have started to sell unlocked and iPhones without a service contract in a move to shift current stock ahead of a new phone later this year.
There is also a call for Apple to invest in a new processor for the iPhone. Brian Caulfield writing for US magazine Forbes quoted Scott Forstall, Apple’s vice president for iPhone software development as saying “The reason it doesn’t run more than one third-party application at a time, explained, is because such work will drain the battery too quickly. It’s more than just a power-management problem, however.
He went on to write “One of the drawbacks of the iPhone right now is it can only [run] one application at a time,” says Will Strauss, president of wireless market research firm Forward Concepts. With a more powerful processor, he adds, the iPhone could run several applications concurrently.
Apple’s rivals are already heading down that path. Palm is pushing out a new phone based around Texas Instrument’s OMAP3430 processor. One of the Pre’s key features: the ability to show the user information from more than one application at a time. The software makes it slick, but TI’s hardware makes that possible.
Apple, meanwhile, relies on an application processor from Samsung. There are two problems there. For starters, Samsung also sells smart phones, allowing it to give its phones the same capabilities, on paper, as Apple’s iPhone. The bigger problem, however, is just about muscle. The relatively dinky processor can’t match the TI model’s power said Caulfield.
The Korean Times said that Apple’s plan to buy up large quantities of flash memories will lift the balance sheets of South Korean chipmakers, while helping the global memory chip industry to turnaround sooner than expected, analysts said.
They said steady capacity cuts by NAND flash memory makers have boosted chip prices and a possible sale to Apple is giving observers more assurance about the market’s long-term stability.
“The prices of NAND flash chips will steadily rise. Short-term possibilities over tight supply in the chips have risen,” TongYang Securities, a local brokerage, said.
“But the recent surge in prices for NAND memory chips has more to do with much-needed capacity cuts from chipmakers,” the brokerage house added.
“Apple buying is nice,” said Gartner, another research firm.
According to DRAMeXchange, a market research firm tracking the memory chip market, benchmark NAND prices rose 16 percent in April.
Sources have said Apple’s next-generation iPhone could be getting a storage increase of up to 32Gb later this year.