WSJ adds legitimacy to iPhone Nano rumors

Feb 14, 2011
Finance

So there might be something to this tiny iPhone rumor. The Wall Street Journal is backing up the rumor that came up again last week, with even more information than was heard from Bloomberg. That’s something of a significant development, because WSJ is actually pretty good at getting information ahead of the fact and being […]

So there might be something to this tiny iPhone rumor.

The Wall Street Journal is backing up the rumor that came up again last week, with even more information than was heard from Bloomberg. That’s something of a significant development, because WSJ is actually pretty good at getting information ahead of the fact and being right about it. Most recently, the newspaper was at the forefront of the Verizon (VZ) iPhone rumors, which became facts shortly thereafter.

The iPhone Nano will be a weird one, if it exists. The report from Ars Technica suggests the Nano would use a new version of Apple’s (AAPL) MobileMe service, and therefore be memory-free. Instead, all its data would be stored in the cloud (which is the hip way of saying “the Internet,” more or less), which you’d access over the air using a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, apparently. Of course, that raises some questions about things like data usage and carrier plans and unlimited data and security.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves — what’s it even going to cost to buy this supposed iPhone Nano, without even speculating about what it’ll be like to use it? WSJ puts the price above Bloomberg’s, which was an awesome, if slightly insane, $200 before carrier subsidies. WSJ is saying the Nano will be more like $312 before subsidies, but that still makes it substantially cheaper than just about any carrier-subsidized iPhone model on the market.

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There are other details emerging about the potential miniphone, as well. In addition to being cloud-based, WSJ says it’ll have an “edge-to-edge” screen. It’ll be big enough for a touchscreen keyboard, at least, and also feature voice navigation, anonymous sources told the Journal.

Along with the Nano and its cloud-based data storage, WSJ’s sources say the whole MobileMe framework is getting an overhaul. Right now, that service costs $99 a year, but in addition to being the storage medium for the iPhone Nano, it could take on a larger role with future iPhones and iPads. Here’s what Ars and the Journal wrote about it:

“Apple is considering making MobileMe a free service that would serve as a ‘locker’ for personal memorabilia such as photos, music and videos, eliminating the need for devices to carry a lot of memory,” wrote the publication, noting that it may also become a “focal point” of Apple’s “new online music service.”

Even more interesting is the implication that MobileMe could start replacing storage for more than just the iPhone Nano. That would significantly change the iPhone going forward — it could potentially help reduce the cost by pulling hard drive storage from the phone, but it would have to effect phone carrier plans and their charges (since you’d be using data pretty much constantly, to do everything from check through your contacts to playing an iPod song). Another thing to consider: wouldn’t streaming everything from the cloud put a significant strain on AT&T (T) and Verizon’s networks?

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All those things are considerations for both the iPhone Nano and any larger implications the rumors might have. Certainly Apple is thinking about them, too, but if the iPhone Nano gets announced this summer beside an iPhone 5, as both Bloomberg and WSJ think it will, expect a lot of analysis about how well the new phones will work. Maybe the Nano and its cloud-based system would be better suited to Verizon’s steadily growing 4G LTE network.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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