iPod Handicap: Betting Line for Next iPod iPhone Features

By Richard Menta 5/23/09

The Las Vegas hotels asked me to build the opening betting line for what the next generation iPod and iPhone will look like. These guys will bet on anything so I again find myself laying odds based on pundit predictions, rumors, wishful thinking, and tarot card reads.

Normally new iPods are unveiled in September, but with the difficult economy some are predicting that Apple will take the sheet off of an updated model as early as this June. There is also a lot of talk that Apple will release two or three new iPhone models at various price points. Since the iPhone usually has its coming out party in the summer, my suspicion is that the Apple will continue to give the iPod line its own show come fall. Of course, there are also rumors that we will see the introduction of the iTablet or iPad, essentially Apple's take on the successful Kindle. That unit may make its showing this June, which would give even more reason to let the new iPods stew until the leaves turn red.

Here is the betting line for what we may see arriving in the next generation iPod, iPhone, iWhatever line over the next few months.

- - - The Line - - -

iPod and iPhone get OLED Displays: Odds = even money - OLED displays offer better color reproduction and sap less power from the battery. Sony has put an OLED screen in its new Walkman X-series of touchscreen portables, signaling that costs have dropped to a point where it makes sense for Apple to make the switch.

iPhone Gets 3 Megapixel Camera: Odds = 5:3 - So many lesser phones have cameras with better resolution than the iPhone so it makes sense that Apple gives it the bump here to three or more megapixels.

iPhone Gets 32GB Version: Odds = 5:3 - Reasonable expectation, especially if we see the introduction of multiple iPhone models.

$99 iPhone: Odds = 3:1 - If AT&T and Apple are really expanding the iPhone line to multiple units the low end unit will probably sell for under $100 with contract. The rumor mill is calling for the iPhone to morph into three price tiers actually.

iPod touch Gets a Camera: Odds = 7:2 - Today consumers just expect a mobile phone to come with a camera, that's why the iPhone has one. Consumers don't have the same expectations for a personal media player, but the iPhone hardware is close enough to the iPod touch where adding one would not prove musch of a problem.

iPod and iPhone with a Rubber-backed Body: Odds = 4:1 - Yeah, why not?

iPod touch with Bluetooth: Odds = 5:1 - to mate with bluetooth headphones

iTablet or iPad: Odds = 6:1 - If you go to the iTunes App store you will see that there already is a category for books. With the success of Amazon's Kindle the time may be right for Apple to extend iTunes deep into book and magazine publishing. Of course, this will give readers two incompatible proprietary technologies to choose from, though Amazon was sharp enough to deliver Kindle through the iTunes App store. Several sources already claim to have confirmed the iPad is real, but target a post-Christmas release. Even money it appears by January.

Direct Movie Downloads to iPod and iPhone: Odds = 8:1 - Great idea, but downloads can be time consuming and you don't want to run out of battery in the middle of it. Still, if Apple goes OLED and finds other ways to stretch battery life, this is a very convenient option, particularly if you find a free WiFi node while waiting for your flight to board.

Talking iPod touch: Odds = 10:1 - If the iPad/iTablet comes it would be nice if it could read the text to you too. The Kindle app alone gives reason for the iPod touch to have it.

iPod nano Gets a Camera: Odds = 15:1 - A camera makes more sense for a high-end unit like the iPod touch, particularly since its form factor is close to the iPhone, which already has one. I'm not sure if it makes sense for iPod nano, especially since everyone's cell phone already has one. The technology has become cheap, though.

iPod touch 64GB with Final Cut Mobile: Odds = 19:1 - Video cameras can do simple edits internally, why not a portable device running OS X? Larry Dignan at ZDNet thinks adding mobile versions of Aperature and Final Cut is a smart direction to go. We'll see if that actually happens.

Apple Wireless OLED Flat Panel TV: Odds = 60:1 - OLED in large screen format is prohibitively expensive. It's still a superior technology for television and we bet Apple will join the crowded TV market when 32" models are more affordable. The unit will also take its inputs with and without wires, a TV that can collect signal inputs from the cable box, surround sound system, DVD player, Blu-Ray unit, DVR and Apple TV via wireless.The ability to banish the spaghetti tangle of cables found behind our contemporary entertainment systems is damn compelling. Talk about a brand new market for Apple peripherals, which of course will be proprietary.

Broadcast TV tuner for iPhone: Odds = 100:1 - Japanese and Korean mobile phones already have this and now that the US is going to digital TV it would be a cinch to add it to the iPhone. But free over-the-air broadcast TV doesn't seem to fall into Apple's or AT&T's plans. They would much rather stream you those channels over their pipes so they can charge you an added monthly fee for the privilege. Guess you have to go back to your Sony Watchman. Oh wait, that's an analog devices and will cease to work soon.

Removable Batteries: Odds = 1,000:1 - Designed obsolesence is what US automakers utilized to move people from a 1960 Chevy with fins to an identical-under-the-skin 1963 Chevy without. When an iPod's battery ceases to hold a charge, folk just move on to the newer model despite the fact that there is nothing else wrong with the older iPod's workings. The average Li-ion battery has a short lifespan. This means more revenue for Apple and why the company has no business incentive to provide a unit with batteries the user can easily replace themselves.


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