The New York Times has joined in on what Mac users often think of as the Greatest Game: trying to figure out what Apple is going to do next. The mainstream publication has published an in-depth piece looking into new rumors that Apple will be introducing a combination cell-phone/PDA called the iPhone. The difference between the New York Times and typical Mac rumor sources is that the Times was able to speak to Steve Jobs about this story directly. From the article:
Behind the scenes, though, [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs has been actively exploring the computing world beyond the desktop. Soon after he arrived back at Apple, for example, he attempted to buy Palm for $1 billion, according to a Silicon Valley executive familiar with the offer. Palm rejected the idea, this executive said.
Now, with the release of the newest version of the Macintosh operating system, Mr. Jobs appears intent on taking Apple itself into the hand-held market. The move would play into Appleis so-called digital hub strategy, in which the Macintosh desktop computer is the center of a web of peripheral devices.
The highly anticipated Macintosh OS X, Version 10.2, which began shipping on the companyis newest computers last week, will go on sale for existing Macintosh users on Saturday. While the software is being marketed as an improvement for desktop computer users, it could have just as big a future in powering a yet-to-be announced Apple hand-held computer-phone.
Mr. Jobs continues to be coy. He insists that he still dislikes the idea of the conventional personal digital assistant, saying that the devices are too hard to use and offer little real utility. But a telephone with personal digital assistant features is another matter.
"We decided that between now and next year, the P.D.A. is going to be subsumed by the telephone," he said last week in an interview. "We think the P.D.A. is going away."
And even while protesting that the company had no plans to introduce such a device, he grudgingly acknowledged that combining some of Appleis industrial design and user-interface innovations would be a good idea in a device that performed both phone and computing functions.
Of the 12 new OS X features the company has been emphasizing on its Web site, most would be desirable for a hand-held phone, including chat capabilities, mail, an address book, calendar features, automatic networking and a synchronization feature that will become available in September.
And several of the features, including the companyis handwriting-recognition technology and Sherlock information-retrieval program, would be much more relevant to a small, portable device than to a desktop computer.
There is a lot of additional information in the full article, including some specific information on exactly why the author, John Markoff, thinks that such a device is in the works. We encourage you to read it for yourself. Note that the New York Times requires a free account to access its content.
Thanks to Observer CrazyOne for the heads up on this article.