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The Speculative Pre-History of the iPhone 195

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the remember-back-when dept.
harrymcc writes "The blogosphere is abuzz with rumors about 'iSlate,' Apple's supposed upcoming tablet. It's constructive to look back at coverage of the first iPhone in the months before it was announced. A high percentage of what was reported turned out to be hooey — as I remembered as I reviewed stories that said the iPhone would have a click wheel, a slide-out keyboard, and two batteries, and would run on an Apple-branded wireless network. I'm guessing that much of what we 'know' about iSlate is similarly off-base."
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The Speculative Pre-History of the iPhone

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  • Wait for it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Khris (1010709) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:45PM (#30573258)
    The only way to know for sure *IF* Apple will ever release a Tablet device is to wait for it. All of the rumours and "opinions" really get annoying after awhile because they all contradict one another.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When it comes out, I'm sure most people will be camping out at Apple stores for it, and it will become the next fad, the must have at the coffee shops instead of the Twilight series books or staring at the Macbook.

      Save your beer money, because if you don't have this, you will be a social outcast.

      • Re:Wait for it... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fallen Seraph (808728) on Monday December 28, 2009 @03:52PM (#30574794)

        Save your beer money, because if you don't have this, you will be a social outcast.

        I'd rather be a social outcast than someone so desperate for the approval of others that they'll buy a gadget just for the status it bestows.

        • by kklein (900361)

          Save your beer money, because if you don't have this, you will be a social outcast.

          I'd rather be a social outcast than someone so desperate for the approval of others that they'll buy a gadget just for the status it bestows.

          See, I can never figure this sentiment out. Since I moved to the Mac about 2 years ago, I haven't noticed any particular rise in my social status. When I get my laptop out, it's not like girls sidle up to me and start cooing in my ear or anything. I just open it and start working/playing (instead of waiting for it to wake up, like with every other laptop I've had).

          I think that someone opening a laptop running Linux has more of an "oooh" factor than a Mac. When students of mine who are running Linux open t

          • by awyeah (70462) *

            Your social status doesn't actually change when you buy and show off your Apple product.

            What happens, instead, is Apple does a very good job of making people believe they are more "tuned in" or "hip" or whatever. Not everyone, of course. They attract lots of different kinds of people, but there is a certain type that you see everywhere. I think you could call them the "fanboys" or whatever. To me, they're a bunch of self-aggrandizing pricks who must have so little else going on that a portion of their i

    • Wait? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:09PM (#30573534)
      >> All of the rumours and "opinions" really get annoying after awhile because they all contradict one another.

      To be frank, most of the apple (iphone/tablet/whatever) stories are already annoying. It's nothing but a huge fanboi echo-chamber or a giant fanboi orgy.
      • Re:Wait? (Score:5, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:45PM (#30574002) Homepage

        MTo be frank, most of the apple (iphone/tablet/whatever) stories are already annoying. It's nothing but a huge fanboi echo-chamber or a giant fanboi orgy.

        Mr. Ballmer, if you just would log in you might get some of your karma back...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeah, that must be why there are so many Windows and Linux stories, right?

        Like it or not, Apple is important. (And for the record, I don't like it.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I am more worried about content of the stories, not just what topic stories are on. Dishing out fanboy blogposts as stories happens far to frequently in Apple's case than anything else.
      • And decrying the fanboi orgy is turning into an anti-fanboi-orgy orgy. And some people are sure to step in to say there's no problem with idle speculation, and they'll have their anti-anti-fanboi-orgy-orgy orgy. It's recursive!

        You know it's a slow news day when blog sites are navel-gazing about the blogger coverage of an unannounced device that may or may not be in pre-production phases.

        All I have to say about it is... Meh. When (if) a product gets released, I'll consider how it might meet my needs.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Well this Fanboi is certian that the Final Cut suite is the ONLY decent video editing platform out there. and Yes I have used them all extensively.. including AVID.

        Problem is that apple is pissing in the cheerios of us that actually use their platform for work. we still have a hugely crappy Bluray authoring solution from them.

      • by Chuqmystr (126045)
        "It's nothing but a huge fanboi echo-chamber or a giant fanboi orgy."

        Reminds me of a line in a Southpark episode:
        "Everybody BACK IN THE PILE!"

    • Probably the most annoying thing I've seen was someone claiming that the iTablet was better than anything out there. Yes. A non-existent product is better than anything out there.

      Cue the "Oh wait..." jokes.

    • After all the rumoured name of the product: is-Late

    • by Cloud K (125581)

      I don't think there's an "if" at this stage. This is the interesting effect of Apple's secrecy combined with the public's excitement about the brand: there's no need for market research, as the market will tell you what it wants through all the rumours that it generates (mostly through fake 'sources'). I honestly think the tablet started out as little other than a sort of 'ricochet' of rumours bouncing from one excited site to the next.

      It's at a point now where even if they didn't have a tablet lined up,

  • Oh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by XPeter (1429763) * on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:48PM (#30573304) Homepage

    Five minutes passed, it's time for another Apple story.

    • Re:Oh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:34PM (#30573872) Homepage Journal

      Five minutes passed, it's time for another Apple story.

      OK, if you insist.

      Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and the snake talked Eve into eating the apple. Then she talked Adam into taking a bite.

      When they were done eating they had sex.

      God comes by and says "Adam, why are you hiding?"

      Adam says "I'm naked!"

      God says "You and Eve ate that apple, didn't you?"

      "Uh, well... yeah" says Adam.

      God sighs and says "Ok, where's that damned slut now?"

      "She's down at the stream washing up."

      God says "Damn! I'll never get the smell out of those fish!"

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:50PM (#30573336)
    I remember when Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in Jan. 2007. For laughs, he showed a modified iPod with a rotary dial instead of the click wheel before he showed the iPhone. Really if it's one thing that we've learned from Apple is that nothing is true about their upcoming products until Apple announces it.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      I remember when Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in Jan. 2007. For laughs, he showed a modified iPod with a rotary dial instead of the click wheel before he showed the iPhone. Really if it's one thing that we've learned from Apple is that nothing is true about their upcoming products until Apple announces it.

      ICBW but IIRC the first iPod had a rotary dial. Perhaps he was saying "Look how far we've come"?

    • Looking at those mockups reminded me just how good the iphone looked at the time. Instant classic design. It sounds like the punchline to a bad Apple joke but it really did take Apple to design a phone with as few buttons on it as the iPhone.

  • by astrashe (7452) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:53PM (#30573372) Journal

    How much do we know about the ways in which Apple uses rumors to gin up interest in new products?

    It seems likely to me that they leak stuff to keep us all talking, but I don't have any proof of that. It also seems likely to me that if they're going to be leaking stuff, they might not always leak accurate information.

    There was a story awhile back that quoted Yoko Ono as saying that the Beatles were coming to iTunes. Does anyone ever bother to dig into those stories to see what happened? Did Yoko actually say that? Was there a deal that fell apart? Did the reporter just make it up? If so, why? Was Apple trying to get us talking?

    Despite all of my suspicions about leaks and promotion, I'm really excited about the tablet. It will be really interesting to see what they do with the interface.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      While the tablet will be cool it is running iphoneOS which meansno flash. While not having flash is good for the small screened iPhone nothaving it on a larger device just wontgo over well.

      How do I know it is running iphoneos? Apple putout a developers call to make sure iPhone apps wereusing resolution independant API and widgets. Dont assume the screensize is 320x240.

      • My MacBook can run iPhone apps. I guess it must be running a version of OS X that's identical to the iPhone version too, eh?

      • I think there is a 'space' key on the iphone keyboard somewhere...... Oh wait!
      • by monomania (595068)
        All the developer-call you cite might mean, is that existing iPhone apps have to run on it with resolution independence. It doesn't mean that other apps developed specifically for the device could not implement Flash, or that Flash for iPhone OS isn't in the works, or that (regardless of Flash for iPhone) there is not a "Flash for i[Slate | Pad | Whatever] in the pipeline, or that a new class of hybrid apps for both iPhone and this new device might not be possible in the near future. My only hope for the d
      • While the tablet will be cool it is running iphoneOS which meansno flash.

        First, youmay want to make sureyour spacebar is working.

        It's very likely that this is not true -- my understanding is that there wasn't an ARM port of Flash for OS X, or something like that. But I don't really know. Still, keep in mind -- the iPhone OS is just a modified OS X.

        How do I know it is running iphoneos? Apple putout a developers call to make sure iPhone apps wereusing resolution independant API and widgets.

        Yes, because that's obviously conclusive evidence... Think about that for a second:

        Dont assume the screensize is 320x240.

        Do you really think the iPhone will only ever be 320x240, especially when most Android implementations seem to be higher resolution?

        But let's say it's a

        • Seriously, if they intend to extend that onto this tablet device, I'm guessing it's a step towards moving on the desktop. Right now, OS X allows free, open development, but that also means Apple doesn't get to veto competition, and they don't get a commission on every single OS X app.

          Other than Mr. Ballmer up there whining about the free publicity, I think a lot of people are wondering where this thing will shake out (if of course it exists in the first place). I would really like the OS X version. The

          • along with some security to make sure that clutzoide Luser couldn't drop it into root by mistake,

            Doesn't OS X already have this in the form of sudo?

      • by CoderDevo (30602)

        Dont assume the screensize is 320x240.

        Yes that would be a bad assumption since the iPhone screensize has always been 320x480.

        It doesn't take tablet to change that either. I expect future iPhone displays to increase the resolution even if the physical phone does not get bigger. Competitor phones are already at 360x640 and 480x854.

        A smaller pixel size can be a competitive selling feature by providing a better user experience, especially as these devices are increasingly used for viewing detailed images such as maps or even rendering realistic 3

        • You rapidly approach the point where increasing pixel density on a small screen size becomes pointless, when many users can't make out the finer detail without a magnifying lens.

          Just try reading text that's set to font-size of 9px, on a page that's formatted for a 1024 pixel-wide screen (and no mobile-browser version), scaled so the width fits the iPhone screen. It's barely 1 mm tall! Most people can't comfortably read text that small even on a 600 dpi printout.

    • by alen (225700)

      of course it's "leaks" by marketing. my favorite was all the idiots falling for the Pre hype like the unboxing videos of supposedly "stolen" Pre's where nothing about the OS or use was demonstrated. all the idiots thought it was really rogue employees doing it instead of the marketing drones. if they were real unboxing videos people would have used the phone and not just taken it out of the box

      • by dangitman (862676)

        of course it's "leaks" by marketing.

        And your evidence for this is... what, exactly? I've followed Apple for a long time, and they don't deliberately leak things. They either release information publicly, or they say nothing at all. "Rogue" leaks are heavily punished.

        my favorite was all the idiots falling for the Pre hype like the unboxing videos of supposedly "stolen" Pre's where nothing about the OS or use was demonstrated. all the idiots thought it was really rogue employees doing it instead of the marketing drones.

        The Pre is a Palm product, so I don't see what that has to do with Apple. Just because one company might do certain things, doesn't mean that all companies operate in the same way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How much do we know about the ways in which Apple uses rumors to gin up interest in new products?

      I thought it was pretty clear -- it's a cheap way to gauge interest and reactions to a product before it's release. People weren't excited about two batteries in the iPhone... whoosh, it doesn't get that. People get excited about wifi blamo, it makes it into the final product. It saves millions in market research, focus groups, etc. Oh yeah, and everybody talking about a product, getting all excited, even though they haven't the foggiest what it'll be -- that's free word of mouth press. That's the kind of p

      • Seems like a pretty unreliable way to gauge interest to me. Apple knows that people often don't know what they want. They have a bunch of smart people working there. Between their own observation skills about things already in the marketplace and proper market research, I doubt Apple leaks these things to gauge their interest. Yes, the buzz generated by leaking stuff, on the other hand...

    • by Wister285 (185087)

      Sure, they use it generate interest. I certainly hope they do. But what if they did something else instead?

      What if the rumor-mongered to generate ideas?

      Apple seems to do it all the time now too. Maybe it's just looking for a conspiracy when there isn't one, but think about it. What a great business model:

      1. Think about something that people are dissatisfied with and is lagging technologically.
      2. Use your reputation and clout to monger a rumor about an "upcoming" product.
      3. Cherry pick ideas generating by

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Apple certainly has some kind of control. There are always lots of Apple product announcement rumours, including ones for real future products years in advance, but the rumours don't grow to fever pitch until there's ACTUALLY a product announcement in the near future. And those rumours are always basically on target, with the speculation limited to details.

      It was obvious before the iPhone came out that Apple was going to announce a phone of some kind. Naturally the speculators didn't get the design right

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They are launching a whole new branch of products and phasing out the "i' product all together in the next 3 years.

    Just thought I'd add to the rumor mill.

    --SJ

    • by stokessd (89903) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:07PM (#30573526) Homepage

      "They are launching a whole new branch of products and phasing out the "i' product all together in the next 3 years."

      I hope so, the "i"everything was annoying when it came out on crummy ugly gumdrop computers, and it hasn't gotten better over time. I had hoped that the two word naming was the "new hotness" IE frontRow, finalCut, etc. but no... Thankfully, the colored translucent plastic era seems to be behind us.

      I'm still scratching my head over the tablet, it was obvious that a phone with a non-sucko UI was needed when the iPhone came out, and even before seeing the product, I could imagine how it would make my life better. With the tablet, I don't have such a clear image of how it will make my life worth living.

      Sheldon

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Instead, they will be using the "a" (for "Apple") prefix instead. Also, they will be introducing a device that combines all the features of all of their portable devices, tentatively named the "aWhole".
    • ...there are rumors that they have purchased another vowel?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by stokessd (89903)

        ...there are rumors that they have purchased another vowel?

        The uTouch sounds a bit creepy and ... mmmmmm that feels good...but this is wrong... don't stop...

  • by bonch (38532) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:02PM (#30573462)

    "Blogosphere?" Is this 2004?

    Anyway, the so-called iSlate is probably a real product, but it might just be a larger version of the iPhone. Like every Apple release, the rumor hype will excite people to impossibly high standards, and when the actual product comes out, forums will be filled with sarcastic bitching, even though all of them will buy it anyway. Also, someone will post a link to the Apple rumor cycle.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      Anyway, the so-called iSlate is probably a real product, but it might just be a larger version of the iPhone.

      The real question is will the iSlate be a MacBook in tablet form, or an iPod Touch in tablet form. My guess is the former, because I don't think a totally locked down tablet would succeed, and applications written for iPhone / iPod Touch are designed around a specific display size and ratio, and thus would not be conducive to a larger display. However, standard OSX apps would be right at home on a tablet PC.

      So my bet is an x86 based super-thin tablet version of the MacBook sporting multitouch support, som

      • So my bet is an x86 based super-thin tablet version of the MacBook sporting multitouch support, some custom shell for streamlined app launching (which will look very similar to iPhone), and an open architecture supporting existing OSX apps

        This is the sort of horrible kludge Microsoft would come up with - trying to run desktop apps on a touch device.

        Any slate will run iPhone OS - the variant of OS X which is tailored for a touch interface, and iPhone OS apps, which are tailored for a small screen (of varying sizes, as when an iPhone rotates). That'll require a little bit of tweaking, but not much, for existing apps. It'll look similar to an iPhone because it'll be running the same OS. We already know it's ARM based anyway, which rules out des

    • by Glock27 (446276)
      What, so every two years we need to update the entire vocabulary of tech? Moron... (that term never goes out of style! :)
    • rumor hype will excite people to impossibly high standards, and when the actual product comes out, forums will be filled with sarcastic bitching

      Or grasping-at-straws rationalisation as to why, despite the objective observation that it is a very mediocre product, it is in fact the greatest thing that has ever been invented since the last thing Apple did, and how you're a fool for not seeing that.
  • ...to pull yet another Apple article out of your asses, even when there is absolutely nothing to report anymore and we’re all already stuffed to the top with it.

    I wonder what Apple pays for this...

    Just remember: Every new story about it, makes me want it less and block it more.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      I wonder what Apple pays for this...

      I would estimate that Apple pays approximately zero dollars for such articles.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:17PM (#30573668)

    1. Removable battery
    2. Free upload of unsigned software and drivers, not locking the user in to any sort of "app mall."
    3. Full physical keyboard since everyone knows software keyboards are annoying
    4. Full and open support for third party hardware
    5. An affordable, low price-point that even Apple's harshest critics cannot bring themselves to complain about
    6. Copy and paste functionality at launch

    Unable to obtain 100% accuracy, now optimizing for 100% inaccuracy.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Nice wish list; too bad it's not based on facts.

      P.S. You forgot 7. Not locked to AT&T's network
    • 1. Removable battery

      Ha Ha. Of course the battery will be sealed, it gives you longer battery life.

      2. Free upload of unsigned software and drivers, not locking the user in to any sort of "app mall."

      50/50

      3. Full physical keyboard since everyone knows software keyboards are annoying

      They are on full size devices. On smaller devices the physical keyboards are more annoying. Or why does the Google Phone not have a physical keyboard...

      A larger slate size device will have a detachable keyboard.

      4. Full and open s

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/ [alwaysinnovating.com]
        Meets all requirements.
        It also have about a quarter the cpu performance of a typical netbook for the same price range.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          No it does not. it CLAIMS 10 hours but does not deliver. I want 10 hours solid with wifi blazing and full screen brightness. it delivers a real world 2 hours at that useage level. My Dell studio 17 can do that.

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            So you are one of the few lucky ones to actually get their hands on one? I am planning on waiting till they can guarantee a delivery date before I order one. That battery life does sound a bit disappointing though. I am not sure but I think the second battery is in the keyboard module, did you have the full touchbook or just the tablet part when you only got the 2 hour battery life?

        • That actually does look feature-wise something like what the tablet might be. The main issue I see though, it it doesn't seem like the keyboard detaches at all (looks like it just folds behind the screen?)

          There are some other differences I see though:

          1) Apple device would have screen going closer to the edge.

          2) Apple device will probably have stylus in addition to accepting finger input.

          3) Apple device would have much better processor specs.

          Basically, I am thinking the tablet is really an evolution of the

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            It definitely does come apart considering they charge an extra $100 for the keyboard half.

      • Or why does the Google Phone not have a physical keyboard...

        WTF are you talking about? The Nexus One or Android phones? I know that G1 and Milestone(Droid) both have keyboards even if some Android phones don't.

        • WTF are you talking about? The Nexus One or Android phones?

          Obviously the Nexus, since none of the others you list are made by Google.

          The Nexus does not have a physical keyboard (as per a source who has used one).

    • And tomorrow, Cisco will announce a similar but unrelated product called iSlate!

    • So it's going to run Linux?
    • 5. An affordable, low price-point that even Apple's harshest critics cannot bring themselves to complain about

      Oh, that's where you're wrong. Unless the price point is under $50.

      The way this works is that the Apple critic picks some set of features that phone X has had for months if not years. If the iPhone doesn't have all of those features at the market price for phone X or less, it's time to start talking about the deceit of shiny design and how Apple is actually a fashion company.

      Given that the Nokia 682

  • iSlate name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:24PM (#30573758)
    Regardless of any functionality this tablet will have, it only takes a very short time to come up with the "is-late" pronunciation of iSlate. I can't imagine that Jobs would let anything that could be turned into a such an obvious mockery of Apple be released. I have no idea what the table will be called, but I am betting heavily against "iSlate" - and yes I have been following all the reports on companies being purchased etc.
    • They could revive Newton, or iBook. But it seems that a Slate is also a revival of an earlier product.

    • i-ph-on-e sounds a bit rude to me, and at best promotes drugs.

    • Regardless of any functionality this tablet will have, it only takes a very short time to come up with the "is-late" pronunciation of iSlate. I can't imagine that Jobs would let anything that could be turned into a such an obvious mockery of Apple be released. I have no idea what the table will be called, but I am betting heavily against "iSlate" - and yes I have been following all the reports on companies being purchased etc.

      Oh, and I suppose you're nixing iSoar for similar reasons. Spoilsport.

      In keeping with the i-name, iPad or iTab, iTablet, or something similar would make sense. iRaq and iRan were already used by Mad TV.

    • I think it's more likely that they'll go without the "i", and just call it Slate. The Times editor said "slate." Yeah they've registered islate domains, but companies defensively register domains near their product name all the time.

  • Apple is reportedly close to launching its long-rumored ____. It could be Apple’s latest billion-dollar jackpot.

    Analyst speculation says the ___ will be launched in September and be in the shops by Christmas. A new mention of the ___ crops up on Twitter around every eight minutes.

    christ, we should all know better by now. See here [newstechnica.com] and fill in the rest yourself. Illustration: the new iPod shuffle.

  • There's a lot people are bandying about that's off-base, no doubt. But IMHO, there's really only one off-base thing about the iSlate that matters: the assertion that it exists at all.

    There will be no second coming of Newton, folks. It failed. So have pretty much all other tablet initiatives, of which the one we currently call "tablet computing" was not the first. They sound neat and shiny on paper, but they just aren't practical, and Apple -having tried it before, keep in mind- knows this.

  • by Uksi (68751) on Monday December 28, 2009 @04:53PM (#30575498) Homepage

    This pre-history is fairly entertaining in that it exposes the low-effort groupthink of these tech bloggers/pundits/opinionators. The limited imagination is evident by most just putting together the iPod and the iPhone in the most obvious of ways: click wheel iPod with phone dialing functionality. Oh wait, how do you dial? Let's propose a slideout keyboard, yeah, that's it! And half those interface mockups look like a PocketPC screenshot with an Aqua theme.

    Imagine if Apple did actually put out such an iPod + clickwheel + keypad combo, behaving like an iPod + dialing features or behaving like a PocketPC/Windows Mobile phone of the era. It would be a flop in comparison to how well the iPhone actually sold.

    The moral of the story is that it takes critical thinking to truly innovate (that, and a massive design effort that's focused on user experience and not a feature list).

  • A high percentage of what was reported turned out to be hooey

    ... I'm holding out for the iHooey.

  • It was affectionately called the Newton.

  • A high percentage of what was reported turned out to be hooey — as I remembered as I reviewed stories that said the iPhone would have a click wheel, a slide-out keyboard, and two batteries, and would run on an Apple-branded wireless network. I'm guessing that much of what we 'know' about iSlate is similarly off-base."

    This time is going to be different though! This time Duke Nukem forever will ship with the iSlate.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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