Daniel Eran Dilger
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Where’s the math supporting Apple’s rumored plus size iPhone?

A rumor originating on Chinese blogs of an oversized “iPhone Math” has been given new legitimacy in renderings that depict it as midway between iPhone 5 and iPad mini. But where’s the supporting evidence?

The first strike against “iPhone Plus” (or if you prefer a ridiculous machine translation, “iPhone Math”) is that it feeds upon two sources of strength: fan fiction renderings of what Apple “should” do (which are almost always 100% incorrect in every way) and the notion that Apple needs to follow the rest of the industry, particularly segments that are performing far worse than Apple itself.

Apple has, time after time, expressly not followed the trajectory of its competitors, seemingly even more so in cases where observers were expressing confidence that there was no possible way Apple could not bend its path to line up behind the rest of the industry.

Three times Apple followed the industry, but in original ways that caused massive disruption

In three cases over the last half decade, Apple has followed a popular industry trend (in some respects), but with a significant twist that appears to have given it far more successful than its peers.

For example, before the iPhone lots of people thought Apple should make a phone to prevent iPod sales from being eaten up by phones that could also play MP3s. But rather than just producing a simple phone with basic MP3 capabilities (as Motorola did in its iTunes partnership), Apple blew the industry away with an advanced software platform running on a mobile device, capable of running a real browser, hardware accelerated animation and video and advanced mobile apps that happened to also include iPod features far beyond the current crop of iPods.

Similarly, as the rest of the industry was gearing up for mass production of netbooks, observers insisted that Apple too needed to get on this bandwagon. Instead, Apple delivered the iPad, which has many of the characteristics of a netbook (high mobility, lower cost, simplicity), but taken to a whole new level, rethinking everything about what a mobile computing device should be.

A third example: while observers were insisting that Apple needed to match the low end, cheap mini-tablets being offered by Amazon, Google and Samsung, Apple instead came out with a premium device that packed a full size iPad 2 resolution into a super thin, smaller form factor that is more compact than existing 7″ tablets, but offers more screen real-estate and the ability to run real tablet apps.

Apple rarely follows the herd without incorporating big, fundamental shifts in its direction and approach. You might call this “following the herd as a predator.”

At the same time, it doesn’t just do the opposite of its competitors (like Samsung and its sudden affection for the stylus Apple rejected); beating the rest of the market requires applying the right mix of art and science to discover what the true needs are and how to solve them in creative ways.

Fan fiction offers the opposite of evidence

While Apple’s competitors seem to be short on the art side, fan fiction inventions often come up short on the science side. There’s nothing inherently wrong with fan fiction style speculation. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But the more elaborate the rendering, the more likely it is to be wrong.

Knowing where the tech industry is headed has very little to do with being able to design something that looks cool in a photo. There are very real constraints on what will sell (profitably, in a given volume) and what is possible to accomplish (given those sales constraints), and fan fiction renderings almost never take any of these into consideration because, well, the constrains of reality are a bummer when you’re dreaming up new ideas.

Developing a successful product has more to do with “boring” things like being able to source components and build reliable software (that is so sophisticated that it appears simple) than it has to do with imagineering “cool looking” futuristic stuff.

That’s why people are always so unimpressed when Apple delivers one of its blockbuster products that will go on to change the world. The tech media and their pundit friends are always instead hoping for an impossibly unworkable and complex mystery to contemplate, not a straightforward, obvious and simple answer to a broad problem.

Geeks had no respect for the iPod and they all collectively yawned when the iPad was unveiled. I know, I was there. CNET wasn’t even interested in airing my interview because I wasn’t echoing the majority opinion at the time that said it just was not very exciting and didn’t seem to have much potential.

But geeky tech people are usually wrong about the market. Just look at the string of disasters Google has foist upon the world. Google IO should be pronounced “uh oh,” if only for the reason that it introduces impossibly unworkable and complex mystery products every year, nearly all of which have failed dramatically, from 2009’s Google Wave to Google TV in 2010, Android 3 Honeycomb and Chrome OS in 2011 and Google + and the Nexus Q in 2012.

Imagine how well Apple would be doing if it had released a string of failures every year. Almost reminds one of Microsoft from the previous decade, when the exact same series of geeky, impossibly unworkable and complex mystery products appeared every year to cheering developers at CES, only to fail and fade into forgotten obscurity.

Essentially, the more an idea has the seal of approval from the geek technorati, the less likely it is to be a viable product for the mass market.

Take netbooks: they were supposed to be the answer to everything wrong with the PC. Problem is, they were a poor approach to solving the existing problems of the PC, introducing at least as many new problems as they intended to solve.

Netbook 2: This time it’s a bigger phone

Several months of netbook sales helped to “prove” that netbooks were the future, just a few months before the market for netbooks collapsed entirely. People today are similarly are viewing super sized screens as an unquestionable trend in smartphones. And like netbooks in 2008, pundits are insistent that Apple has to deliver one.

There are a couple problems with this idea. The first is that despite some sales, there’s no evidence that super big smartphones are selling in volumes that can support profitability, or that there is significant specific demand for big screens.

We know that Samsung sells the most of these big screen smartphones, but Samsung’s profitability is half that of Apple, largely because it sells lots of low end cheap phones. That’s not intentional; Samsung would desperately like to sell more premium models and earn Apple-like profits. That’s why it embarked on a plan to duplicate the iPhone 3GS in 2010. This worked out pretty well for Samsung, but it still hasn’t been able to copy Apple close enough to duplicate its profitability.

Samsung has bet on big screens to drive its phone portfolio into premium territory (or at least induce sales of more expensive models). But Samsung has also bet on the stylus and OLED screen technology. There’s really no evidence consumers really want any of these things. They are not driving some new tide of demand. They’re just occurring at the same time that Samsung is expanding its sales. Other phone makers also adopted big screens and styli and OLED screens without finding major markets for their phones.

In fact, you could say the same thing of Android: Samsung’s success is not because of selling Android phones, it has come in spite of it. There’s all sorts of examples of companies that are failing despite a big bet on Android, the best being Google’s own Motorola subsidiary, one of the few manufactures to have backed Android exclusively.

So just as Android, styli and OLED screens aren’t really driving phone demand (certainly not in the way that iOS or features like Siri clearly is in every market and on every carrier), there’s no real evidence that oversized screens are driving demand or in demand by the public.

If big phones are really in demand, why is Samsung’s most popular US phone the 4.8 inch Galaxy IIIS, rather than one of its bigger phones like the 5.6 inch Note II? Samsung’s second most popular phone in the US isn’t a Note, it’s the IIS, which has a smaller 4.3 inch screen. And both of those phones were still less popular than iPhone 5 and its 4 inch screen.

Apple’s top selling phone is always its fastest, it offers the best camera, and delivers the nicest screen. These are clearly things people want and will pay extra for. But Samsung’s most original feature is a really big screen, a feature that isn’t driving its profits or popular sales. The majority of Samsung’s customers are opting for cheap phones, not big ones.

Why are Samsung’s phones big?

If the market really wants bigger phones, why doesn’t it want Samsung’s biggest phones? There does not seem to be any direct correlation between huge screen size and overall demand. There is, however, a correlation between phone size and both first generation LTE chipsets and large batteries.

I don’t think Samsung asked its designers to create a smartphone size that would sell well. I think Samsung asked its designers to package a huge bunch of components into a smartphone product, and the only answer was “a big smartphone.”

I’m not saying there aren’t any people who want a phone with a big, even huge, oversized screen. But the market does not seem to be revealing real unit-moving demand for smartphones with big screens, in the same way there truly is a clear demand for big HDTVs or big roomy vehicles for families (at least in the USA, where gas is cheap). People pay significantly more for bigger TVs, and that demand is driving sales volumes toward ever larger screens. Nobody seems to be willing to pay a premium for really big screen phones.

I compare big screen smartphones to netbooks because I think both are poor approaches that can only remain popular until something better comes along. Just as netbooks took the good idea of an affordable, small notebook and exaggerated it into absurdly crappy, low performing devices that were too small to use, oversized smartphones take the idea of easy to read mobile devices and exaggerate them into big, heavy and expensive devices that threaten their own mobility.

This has gotten so out of hand that HTC has come up with a solution for the oversized smartphone: a small companion handset that links to the big device via Bluetooth so you can place calls without wearing out your forearm or looking ridiculous holding a pizza sized phone to your face.

Samsung has spent billions of dollars telling people that they need a big screen (among other things, to play games). But Samsung’s product mix isn’t tilting toward its phablet line. It’s trending toward the devices most like the iPhone.

Mobility trumps screen size

Even in general terms, while bigger is often better (especially in screen display sizes), mobility trumps screen size. Look at notebooks. Apple introduced the 17 inch PowerBook almost a decade ago as a workstation replacement, offering the biggest screen ever on a notebook. However, it’s now gone, replaced by MacBooks with screens that have trended smaller, not larger, now in the range of 11 to 15 inches.

Apple’s 17 inch MacBooks had really nice displays that showed a lot of desktop, but they were so heavy that they weren’t very mobile. Demand quickly shifted toward lighter models with smaller screens.

And while desktop iMacs keep getting bigger screens, the most popular computers Apple now sells are (by far) iPads. And Apple’s iPads–almost entirely a screen–are also trending smaller, not larger. The reason behind this isn’t that small screens are so much cheaper; it’s because devices with smaller screens can be much lighter and thinner. The new iPad mini promises to be more popular than the original just because it’s more mobile.

Of course, Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPod touch got bigger screens last year, but those screens aren’t big enough to make them noticeably less mobile. In fact, the new devices are actually lighter and equally pocketable. The question remains: how much bigger can iPhones get without sacrificing their mobility?

How do you SKU?

It’s also noteworthy that Apple didn’t release two iPhone 5 models, one with a 4 inch screen and one with the smaller screen of the iPhone 4S. Apple bundled the iPhone 5’s features into a single package: LTE, faster chips, better camera and a taller screen. It would be unprecedented for Apple to offer a new iPhone with nothing else but a bigger screen.

Twice before, with the iPad and MacBook Air, Apple trended smaller when introducing a new version, not larger. And the motivation both times was mobility. And in both cases, Apple appeared to have read market demand correctly.

It’s notable that Apple didn’t go the other direction, offering an even smaller iPod touch, a smaller iPhone, a smaller MacBook Air or en even smaller iPad mini. There are competing products that have tried to offer smaller alternatives, such as the Palm Pixi, netbooks with 9″ screens, and 5-7″ tablets. None of those have been very successful. So there’s clearly a sweet spot between too big and too little.

Now, it might make sense for Apple to offer a big screen 5″ iPhone. But the tradeoffs are significant. It would complicate production, as Apple would be adding a size option to its existing choices of 2 colors, 3 capacities and 3 carriers types. Rather than having just one new model of iPhone 5, it would double Apple’s model matrix from 18 SKUs to 36.

This would complicate everything from production to inventory forecasting and management. Sure, Samsung and others do this, but they also aren’t half as profitable as Apple. One of the keys to Apple’s profitability is that it exercises restraint in the number of different models it offers. For Apple to greatly expand its offerings would require a clear new benefit that would directly enhance sales.

Think about different

Consider how the choices in products Apple currently offers serves to generate significant new sales. Colors of iPods? Apparently this results in far more sales or Apple wouldn’t continue doing it. Multiple screen sizes of iPad and MacBook Air? A clear opportunity to sell lots more by targeting demands for both higher mobility and larger screens. But offering two iPhone 5 models with slightly different screen sizes?

Consider that Pad mini has a screen that’s 41% of a full sized iPad. In contrast, a 4-inch iPhone 5 would be about 68% the size of a 5″ version. There’s much less difference. The iPad mini is much smaller and therefore much more mobile. A slightly larger iPhone 5 wouldn’t offer nearly as much differentiation.

The iPhone 5 is similarly just slightly larger than iPhone 4 (which delivers 85% of the new 4 inch screen), but that screen size isn’t the sole attraction of iPhone 5 (the way a larger, 5 inch iPhone 5 would be). There’s a clear reason why Apple didn’t release iPhone 5 in both old and new sizes – there would be zero interest in a slightly smaller screen, and it would cost about the same (if not more) to make, and would involve expensive design work.

What’s the upside to creating a slightly larger iPhone 5: attracting buyers who want a slightly bigger screen? In order to really entice anyone with screen size, you’d need a substantially bigger screen. To offer the same differentiation that iPad mini does for the full sized iPad, you’d need a stupidly big iPhone.

Why not just put phone features on the iPad mini?

Rather than trying to address an audience of buyers (that are not even proven to exist) by offering a slightly larger iPhone 5 model that looks just like a Samsung device, if Apple wanted to give buyers more options it might be better off just adding full phone capabilities to iPad mini.

Rather than offering just a WiFi and 3G/LTE data version, Apple could add full telephony support with a phone version it could sell on contract. There may actually be a market for users who would like a mobile iPad that could support phone calls and its own phone number, both among consumers and in the Enterprise.

This iPad mini would cost slightly more than a standard iPad mini but that extra cost could be hidden by contract subsidies. The result would be turning the iPad mini into an Super iPhone model, sort of the reverse of the iPod touch’s relationship with the standard iPhone. Apple wouldn’t have to design an entirely new product, just modify an existing one.

That’s important because attracting a new fringe of the market might not be valuable enough to justify the expense of developing a second set of 18 iPhone 5 SKUs. Additionally, a iPad mini that works as a phone would be sufficiently differentiated from the conventional iPhone 5 to prevent making it look less valuable or attractive. A slightly bigger iPhone 5 would call into question why Apple would carry a slightly smaller version.

There may actually be a significant audience that would like to have an iPad mini and a phone, but can’t afford the duplication and overlap of carrying both. Such a “Super iPhone” would be significantly differentiated from iPhone 5 in that it could run full sized iPad apps and games. That’s something today’s Android “phablets” don’t really offer, because there aren’t really any tablet Android apps of significant value.

In contrast, a 5″ version of iPhone 5 could only run existing iPhone apps, just slightly bigger. By leaping beyond Samsung’s obese phones that it was forced to make as a concession to less space efficient components and design, Apple could sell a differentiated, iPad phone product that could have minority appeal alongside its conventional iPhone 5, an option that might likely be attractive to business people, gamers and those with visual handicaps.

Perhaps Apple could call it the “iPad mini DED,” for digital entertainment device, of course.

  • http://madhatter.ca The Mad Hatter

    I can’t see a larger iPhone, I can’t see adding phone capabilities to the iPad Mini.

    What I can see is Apple moving to ARM on Notebook and Desktop chips.

    I made that suggestion in the forums here about three years ago, back when they still worked. If you have them backed up, you could look it up.

    I really strongly feel this is the way Apple is going to move. It makes a hell of a lot of sense. Apple controls the development tool chain. They used to produce dual binaries, they could do it again. Moving to ARM would reduce battery size and weight. It would reduce the need for cooling parts. It would allow thinner cases.

    And it would get rid of Intel, a company that is constantly unable to produce graphics drivers that really work.


  • broadbean

    The 14-inch iBook must’ve sold well, and it basically offered the same resolution as the 12-inch version. DVD burning was the only differentiation at one point.

    It may not make economic sense for Apple to make a bigger iPhone with the same resolution, but if it could sell at least as many as iPod touches while expanding to the aging market – literally, older folk with poorer eyesight who wants bigger text but not less – then, why not?

  • Brau

    Great article Daniel.
    I like your description of Apple following the crowd as a predator (and I think that’s the best analogy I have ever heard.) Apple doesn’t have to do anything. They are the benchmark.

    As far as future versions of iPhones go, I’m stumped at what Apple would possibly do, as the smartphone market is becoming quite mature (IMO). I simply don’t need my iPhone to do anything more today than it heralded in the first version. It merely does those things better today. It wouldn’t bother me one whit if Apple released a bigger one, a smaller one, or an assortment in rainbow colors. At some point I expect them to offer a limited variety and simply maintain high standards (like the Mac line-up today – faster, thinner, greener).

    Then “move on to the next great product” as Steve Jobs once said.

    Just for fun, I’ll float some of my own observation/predictions on Apple’s future, but anyone can feel free to shoot holes in it if they like:

    Overall Notes:
    -The Mac/iMac – the first all in one – hid all the wires, clean design broke “the rules”. No tower.
    -Phil Schiller a few years back @ Macworld responding to a question about home theaters: “Too many wires. Apple is all about wireless and clean”.
    -Apple likes emerging markets and breaking new tech

    Persistent rumors:
    -Apple to “consolidate the digital living room”
    -Apple to make a big screen TV

    Purported problems:
    -HDTVs require too many wires and many people don’t like this in their living room
    -Content. Few can push 1080P let alone 4K to millions of buyers
    -Profit margins on Plasmas/LCDs already too low for Apple to profit (just like they said about those netbooks).

    Does that means Apple won’t do it?

    Hell No!

    1.Apple recently bought shares in Sharp who is notable for developing the first blue pico laser diode. Apple has recent patent applications using laser diodes, as pico projectors, but nobody I know wants a pico projector, so I figure Apple has some other cool usage up their sleeve.
    2.This year a laser-based HDTV projector was demonstrated by LG at CES. It produced a picture comparable to plasma and scalable from 24″ to 100″. Yes, it is technically possible today but hasn’t come to market yet; just the kind of advanced market tech Apple tends to target as they like to get in early and patent their breakthroughs.
    3. It can be placed on a coffee table, ceiling, floor, wall, or sit with the stereo and negates any need to run wires up your living room wall.
    4. It would require a huge data facility or two, to serve up massive amounts of 4K HD content, sold from iTunes of course.
    5. Apple loves to create new tech, plus compression/delivery schemes to get the job done.
    6. It would have millions lining up at Apple Stores again, willing to pay premium prices for something they can’t get anywhere else.
    7. Other companies might be able to make the laser TV but they’d have to rely on third parties for content and customers would suffer the bottlenecks that would result, not to mention trying to get it to work reliably with Win7/8.
    8. It has been confirmed Apple has been in talks with Time Warner over content delivery deals.
    9. They have invested millions in securing the sole right to use “Liquid Metal” for a reason we have yet to see in any product. (Mold-able mirrors?)
    10. A smart laser AppleTV/PC fully integrated with you iPhone would obsolete every plasma/lcd maker the day it was released in the same manner the iPhone obsoleted BlackBerry, Palm, Nokia, Motorola.

    Lastly, when Steve Jobs said “move on to the next great product”, he never once said it had to be computer based or even relevant to anything Apple has been done before. IE: He bought Pixar as a tech company and switched gears when he found a talented creative force was creating great movies. They dropped “Computer” from their name for a reason. He and Ive were notorious for chasing new tech and ideas wherever they went, related or not. Apple has amassed talents that extend far beyond what we know. Analyst predictions always seem to be limited to the tech industry, but Apple could just as easily broadside the world with a new way to build homes, clothing, or something else seemingly unpredictable.

  • kyle braund

    “iPad mini DED,”…..brilliant concept. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Great job!!

  • addicted44

    I do think Apple will release an iPhone+. While there is no evidence that bigger screens sell more phones, there is no evidence that a bigger iPhone wont sell more either.

    That being said, I think there are 2 reasons Apple releases a bigger phone:

    1) They cannot create a smaller phone. And I think Apple does want to release a cheaper off contract phone, because currently they don’t even play in the prepaid market, which is huge outside the US. As a result, they release a bigger phone, which exists at the current price points, and the existing sized phones get pushed into the lower prepaid market price points.

    2) Features. Samsung et al were forced to offer huge screens because they couldn’t fit their components otherwise, and also because the inefficient Android OS consumes more power and so requires a bigger battery. Apple, OTOH, can use the extra space to offer premium features. Imagine an iPhone which can go 1-2 days straight without a recharge even though it is being operated at full tilt. An iPhone+ would allow this, and be an especially huge hit with the business market.

  • John E

    i think a basic iPhone mini is more likely than a Plus. essentially a iPod touch + cellphone. replacing holdover sales of the 4S. for maybe $50 with contract. aimed more at the second world than USA. there is a huge untapped market there for Apple.

    the next “disruptive” product i think will be either smartgasses or smart watch. i think an iOS iWatch would be a killer product. so convenient. with a plethora of third party wristbands for style. whereas i think Google’s eyeglasses approach is too intrusive for anyone but geeks. not to mention problematically distracting. we’re not cyborgs.

  • Phred

    In all the discussions I have read about phone screen size no one has pointed out the obvious – if I want my screen to appear bigger I move it closer to my eyes… I certainly don’t want it to be physically bigger because I want to be able to use it one handed which even now is a bit of a stretch for me on the iPhone 5.

  • bft

    I like the idea of adding phone capability to the iPad Mini.

    I also think that Apple is seriously looking at ways to expand iOS presence into businesses. Maybe a giant iPad/touchscreen computer, maybe something else.

    I think it’s just too tempting for them, given how much growth potential there is there, for them to not at least think about ways to leverage it.

  • freeassociate

    So, only place I could see a bigger screen being a differentiator would be the iPod Touch.
    • One-handed operation is immaterial — a kid or teen is likely to use two hands and in landscape.
    • iPod Touch is likely being used for movies, videos, games — areas where a slightly larger screen may be useful and esthetically pleasing.
    I’m not sold on it, however. Just a thought.

  • Grajales7

    I started reading this website, not long ago, when an article in mobile-review.com brought me here. It was a curious article, of the well known (and sometimes infamous) tech analyst Eldar Murtazin. He was, to put it simply, bashing Microsoft and its mobile strategy, and as a supporting reference, he put a link to an article in this webpage. An article dedicated to (no big surprise) bash Windows Mobile. It was an interesting read for me, as I always thought that Microsoft could be a major player in the mobile industry, but thew always seemed to screw things up in the UI department, so manufacturers always ended up releasing products that were not attractive to the mass market (and besides, technology was not there yet, to offer the kind of functionality that windows mobile was pushing).

    It’s a well-known fact that Apple shook the market. And single-handedly, brought down not only Microsoft, but also Palm, HP, RIM, Motorola, Sony, and even (the then giant) Nokia. What happened with those companies? They didn’t know how to make an appealing product for the mass market. And somehow, innovation stagnated. Nokia’s N-series, Sony’s cybershot/walkmans, Palm’s Treos… were products that were not short of technical abilities (impressive cameras, GPS, WiFi, 3G connectivity…), but were unattractive. Apple, with a capacitive screen in a pretty package, was enough to put the mobile industry upside down in 2007.

    The original iPhone was not a technological marvel (no GPS, crappy camera, tremendously limited bluetooth functionality, no 3G connectivity, hell, even it was not able of sending MMS messages). But it was the appealing product that the world was waiting for. It made mobile technology easy to use, and more important, desirable. In a moment when the absolute king of mobile was Motorola with is technologically mediocre V3, the market was an empty territory waiting to be dominated.

    But… 6 years have passed by. The market is different now. And I have the feeling that innovation has started to stagnate again. And, as if history wants to repeat, it is not in the technological front. Apple right now, has a pretty comfortable position. They want the things as they are now, because, why fix something that is not broken? If someone has a knack for releasing appealing products, is apple. But right now they have no need to change something. But their competitors maybe have started to learn something about style and mass-market appeal.

    Or maybe not. As if we were in 2007, when Apple’s competitors started releasing strange products (as responses to the iPhone… as trying to evolve, but not knowing how) like nokia’s N97 or 5800; Sony’s P1, w950 or even the Xperia X1; Palm’s Treos 850, Pro, centro… Now, Microsoft is releasing a strange hybrid of a tablet, that doesn’t know if it is a tablet or a PC (and even more impressing, they are releasing a major version of their OS around that ambiguous paradigm), Samsung and HTC are releasing ridiculously big phones, Nokia is adding color to the mix (but I have to agree that I like their design).

    By now, I have written a ridiculously large post… And I got lost in my words. My point is… Apple was the company that shook the market in 2007. And it was good. It brought a tremendous impulse of innovation and style to the industry. But that impulse is starting to fade away, and if we, as the author of the articles in this webpage, start bashing others because their inability to compete with apple… who is going to bring a new breath of fresh air and innovation to the industry? It appears that nothing very revolutionary is going to happen this year.

  • gctwnl

    @Wayne, there might be a good reason for Apple not to go to ARM for the desktops and laptops: Windows compatibility (Parallels, Bootcamp). A Intel-to-ARM translation would slow that down very much and would be expensive to maintain. Windows still counts enough. And there are other platforms (like Java, which people for instance use to connect with Citrix from their home Mac to a work environment) that should be added by third parties and are they going to do that? The actual user base for these might be small, but the brand damage might be huge.

    Too many disadvantages, I guess.

  • shinyraygun

    Introducing the “iScreenbox” ! Why doesn’t Apple make a case like an Otterbox with its own built in battery and screen. You would simply snap on the “iScreenbox” and plug the iPhone connector into it. The iPhone’s screen would automatically shut down to conserve its battery (or use the iScreenbox battery entirely). You could buy any size iScreenbox you want. When the iScreenbox battery runs out, you just remove the iPhone and you are good to go. I will gladly accept small “royalty” contributions for this insanely great idea.

  • http://madhatter.ca The Mad Hatter


    Do you actually know anyone who uses Windows compatibility? I don’t, and I know a hell of a lot of Mac and Linux users.


  • John E

    also, no one – the author nor comments – have noted you can use Skype on your iPad now for calls. going back couple of years. it works, i had it until MS bought them and i dumped it.

    biggest problem using it was the poor sound from the iPad speaker. why Apple has not improved the Pad’s sound i just can’t figure. many Android tablets have better sound, with two speakers.

    of course FaceTime works great too between iOS/OS X users. all Apple needs to do there is add a voice-only/camera toggle switch. this might come soon in iOS 7.

  • sir1963nz

    The “Next Big Thing” will be more home integration. Heating, lighting, security tied to a central server (Mac mini anyone). Just think of Siri with “Lights on/off”, “Set alarm for 7am”,”Play movie Monsters Inc” with it being room aware.

    I already have a Mac mini with a 12TB RAID5 array with all my DVDs, CDs, ripped onto it with multiple Apple TVs, it also runs OSX server so our laptops are automatically backed up onto another striped RAID drive, now if we could only aggregate our itunes IDs….

    I am working on throwing an Arduino unit under our Air conditioner so I can get some basic control over it over the internet, same with the heated towel rails and so other electric around the house. But if they all tied in to the Mac Mini with an App on the iPad too well suddenly there are hundreds of Billions of light switches, power points, etc to be sold world wide.

  • jmfree

    I very much enjoy DED’s speculation about putting phone capabilities onto the iPad mini. Seems like an excellent and simple game changer.

    As the U.S. market gets saturated with mobile phones in every pocket, the carrier priority must slowly turn to customer retention. This means offering more for their money with novel (and probably increasingly confusing) plans.

    So, imagine being able to buy an iPad mini that can be activated with your existing mobile phone number. Someone calls you, and both your phone and your iPad ring. Answer whichever device you prefer. A new twist on the family plan, and on having everything that’s yours on all your devices.

    Combined with the natively mobile FaceTime and iMessage, it might make both Apple hardware and a given carrier’s $ value that much more attractive.

    And it would probably help make Skype look like a crufty old legacy application owned by a company that makes you twiddle and fiddle with something called “software”. How very 1990s.

  • http://Www.bitburn.org bitburn

    Great read Dan, as always.

  • daveynb

    Since I started using an iPad mini I have no desire to have an iPhone again…
    Browsing is better on the mini, email is easier to read and write, battery life is better, in short, the only thing an iPhone does that an iPad doesn’t is make phone calls.
    But I’m not sure I want to hold an iPad up to my face everytime the phone rings….?
    I was thinking I’d rather have a very small Apple voice communicator to supplement the iPad.
    Whip out of pocket… “Hello?” “Yeah.” “OK” “3 o’clock?” “See you there”
    “Bye”. Done
    I do that now with a basic little Nokia but I’d rather have something nicer…!

  • harrywolf

    ‘Following the herd as a predator’ is simply brilliant.

  • imfullofit@gmail.com

    What I see living in Japan may have some relevance because the Asian market is where a lot of the growth is now. Of course every college kid has an iPhone and most of them are running out and getting iPhone 5s which is probably the same everywhere. The interesting thing that I see here is wealthy women with $1000 and above hand bags pulling out one of these large format phones and texting their friends and doing other smart phone features on them. They are on a premium plan with the best carrier and have a premium phone to go with the plan. Apple is no longer considered to be the premium phone. In addition, most men carry bags of some type so a pocketable phone is not as important here. People almost never use their phones to make calls too.

    The other thing I see everyone doing is not using native IOS and OSX applications made by Apple and instead using applications like Line, Drop box, and Google maps. Apple makes great hardware but if they can’t make the software and hardware integration more compelling they will find themselves in a position where users go to other platforms to some degree out of boredom and fashion fashion considerations and can do so easily because their information and apps are portable. I enjoy the fact that Apple has chosen to evolve its hardware and hasn’t made useless changes but I often hear complains about it being boring. The funny thing is that the variety of case selection is one thing that is keeping users on iPhone. I think an interesting thing that a larger iPhone would do is move the Apple brand back into a premium brand category in a lot of peoples minds. I also think it would sell well internationally and be much more profitable than the cheap iPhone that everyone keeps talking about.

  • Onereelbigfishy

    As a long time Apple fan (and shareholder) I have no interest in using Android. But I do envy the large screen android phones. I understand the problems with adding complexity to the lineup as DED pointed out. Those are good points, but for me (and granted I have bigger hands than most) I would really appreciate having as much screen real estate as possible in something I can still fit in my pants pocket. My iPhone 4 has served me well but for games, maps, and even web surfing a bigger screen would be nice. As someone with a 3 year old the fact that I can’t stick an iPad mini in my pocket is a big drawback. Yes an iPad Mini is more portable than a regular iPad but it is still not practical to carry on my person. Having two devices would also be an option but you lose a huge amount of convenience and add cost to your data plan. A 5″+ iPhone would be a single device that would (for me) act as a phone and tablet replacement albeit with the loss of some some usability in some of the iPad apps meant for a bigger screen. But that is a trade off I would be willing to make for the all in one convenience. I suppose an iPad mini with cell capabilities would be a second best option. But as a carpenter who is working in the field constantly an iPad mini would still mean I couldn’t carry my phone around with me. (Which could be argued might be a good thing! ha)

    I will be interested to see which direction Apple takes. I think Samsung is stealing some of their thunder because they can just throw mud (for lack of a better term ;-)) on the wall and see what sticks. Obviously they sell a lot of low end stuff to people who either don’t know of don’t care (or can hardly avoid it if they wanted to considering Android is practically the defacto OS on cell phones outside the iPhone) But they also entice people with the big screen android phones of various sizes for the same reason people buy big screen TV’s. They look impressive in the store, and for a certain portion of the population are I’m sure considerably easier to see and use. Of course Samsung is making their profits purely off of hardware sales so they don’t care nearly as much about the fragmentation of the ecosystem so long as people keep buying their phones. But since they are completely dominating the other Android vendors that doesn’t seem to be a problem for them.

  • fulwild

    iPad Mini 4g + Bluetooth 4 headset + Siri
    All that is needed is an “Applefied” headset. Do you really need to hold something up to your face to use a phone?