Looking ahead to iPhone V2

Sunday, June 24, 2007

In my previous article, I pointed out that Apple WILL have to take the 3G route. Also, it looks like the 3G chip vendor space would consolidate after Apple's choice of base-band chip supplier is announced. The analysis below attempts to elaborate on this latter point.

As Apple heads for V2, its choice of the supplier is likely to be determined by a host of factors apart from the ability to get low-cost chip-sets. Prominent among them are-
  • Feature integration
  • Power management
  • Ease of integration
Feature integration would be fore-most in Apple's mind. The current version has base-band chips from Infineon, while its Wi-Fi capability comes from a Marvell chip. Jobs and Apple would definitely clamor for a single chip that contains most key features. These key features include the base-band radio (with dual-mode support for GSM and WCDMA), Wi-Fi, GPS and it possible, FM as well. Feature integration in turn would help iPhone to
  • have better power management capabilities
  • have smaller space requirements for the chip-set (which would also be enhanced by migration to the newer 65 nm technology) implying more room for music storage
  • be backward-compatible with GSM networks. This is more a requirement for Apple given that most 3G networks are not pervasive and users are likely to be serviced by both GSM and WCDMA based on their location
The mantra is simple. iPhone V2 has to make more features while enhancing user-experience and also providing more 'bang for the buck'. And feature integration will be the key to it.

Another key factor, of course, is the battery life and all its associated issues like talk-time, music time etc. The iPhone of June 29th already boasts of 8 hours of talk-time which in itself is an achievement considering the electronics that go with it. V2 will have to better this. As alluded to previously, an integrated chip-set would help the cause of power-management. On top of it, Apple, as the phone manufacturer, has to make sure that all its features work efficiently in tandem and that power is conserved to provide for greater up-time.

Third, would be the ease of integration. All factors remaining the same, it is natural for Apple to go for the chip-set vendor who would make their life the easiest. These would include fringe-benefits that are not mandatory for the bare-bones chip-set itself to work. For example, video and audio drivers often act as 'kool-aid' for the phone vendors to make their decision.

These factors form a good frame-work into the companies' iPhone strategy while not over-simplifying the central issue. So, with these in mind, we will, in the sequel, analyze potential candidates for the marriage with iPhone and how the game-plans of a lot of the players may depend on the marriage itself.

Posted by Vijay Nagarajan at 10:55 PM  


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