There’s no real surprise in this news from Bloomberg, but in speaking to a group of stockholders and financial analysts about a 3G-capable iPhone, AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said, “You’ll have it next year.” Steve Jobs justified Apple’s failure to include faster 3G cell data capabilities in the first release of the iPhone because of the lack of 3G chips with sufficiently low power consumption. But as Glenn Fleishman wrote in “3G Cell Data iPhone Now Feasible” (2007-10-14), chipmaker Broadcom announced a Phone on a Chip that would make a 3G iPhone possible in October 2007. So although Glenn was speculating, it’s nice to see his informed speculation confirmed.
Will the 3G-capable iPhone use the Broadcom chip we wrote about? And, if so, will the new iPhone take advantage of the chip’s other capabilities to provide FM reception and transmission, a 5-megapixel camera, video conferencing, and output to an external display? Of course, there’s no guarantee Apple will tap Broadcom; Atheros and a number of other companies compete in the same space and Apple could easily be working with a 3G-capable chip from one of them that has different capabilities.
Stephenson also said he didn’t know how much a revised iPhone would cost, but it’s likely that Apple would keep the price point the same; the company frequently upgrades some parts of a device while taking advantage of reduced component costs elsewhere to maintain the same price. Amazon’s recent introduction of the Kindle, an electronic book reader with a 6-inch screen, a keyboard, and a 3G radio inside, shows that you can package quite a lot these days for $400, assuming Amazon isn’t subsidizing the price (see “Comparing Amazon’s Kindle to the iPhone and Sony Reader,” 2007-11-19).
It’s possible we could see an announcement at Macworld Expo in January 2008, though I expect Apple would wait until the 3G iPhone was actually shipping, and January might be too soon for that.