iPhone 5 : last week's rumour round-up

iPhone 5 : last week's rumour round-up

iPhone 5 rumour-mongering now is being exploited by spammers

Here are the top iPhone 5 rumours for the week ending Friday, May 13: iPhone 5 "Lite", reading the meaning of iPhone 5 parts, speaking of voice recognition, and Thunderbolt I/O on the iPhone as a sign of the Apocalypse. You heard it all here second.

(More iPhone 5 rumors from the week of May 6.)

A public service warning: iPhone 5 causing spam. iPhone 5 rumour-mongering now is being exploited by spammers. Facebook users who click on a link called "First Exposure: iPhone 5" are being duped into spreading spam, reports CNET’s Elinor Mills, who has the details on the clickjacking exploit.

New "Lite" iPhone 5: The "most convincing clue yet" that Apple is readying a lower-cost, and perhaps smaller iPhone "Lite" model is guess what? The "old"  iPhone 3GS and original iPad are often outselling newer Android rivals.

That’s the odd idea put forward this week by FastCompany’s Kit Eaton. He cites a research note by Michael Walkley, a tech analyst with investment bank Canaccord Genuity, (originally picked up by AppleInsider).

Walkley wrote: "[O]ur April checks indicated continued strong demand for the iPhone 3GS at AT&T and iPad 1 at Verizon, as these older generation products with reduced prices often outsold new Android products. We believe this highlights Apple's significant competitive advantage, and these older products help Apple offer a tiered pricing strategy at key channels."

APPLE IPHONEYS: The iPhone 5 edition

Eaton says, reasonably, that Apple may just continue this practice with iPhone 4 when iPhone 5 is eventually released. But then he argues that the success of the lower-priced, older Apple hardware shows that Apple might try to appeal to the same set of cost-conscious buyers with a "Lite" iPhone 5 model -- one that may have a smaller screen, smaller battery, less memory, more plastic.

"These are all tweaks that would significantly reduce the production price without necessarily degrading the user experience…," Eaton claims. "A drop in price like this would let Apple sell an iPhone Lite at a knock-down price…, enabling it to scoop up more of the low-end market that it's partially ceded to Android."

But the high-quality engineering of Apple’s products *is* part of the "user experience." And there doesn’t seem to be much other "evidence" that Apple has any interest in the low-end market, for any of its products.

iPhone 5 parts surface: In case you were wondering what the iPhone 5 speaker and home button might look like, Cult of Mac is all over it. "Is This The Speaker And Home Button Of The iPhone 5?" is the breathless headline.

The accompanying somewhat out of focus photo, showing something that looks vaguely like a black wrench with a couple of attached wires, is supposed to be the speaker. The original story is the Italian website, PhoneItalia, "which doesn’t have a terrible history in the past with such rumors," Cult of Mac helpfully notes.

But why let a little thing like that get in the way of speculation? "What can be gleaned from these parts?" Cult of Mac asks. Quite a lot, apparently. Like, for instance, "rumors that the iPhone 5 will have a capacitive home button are junk." Junk, because a new rumor "proves" an older rumour is false. Secondly, "sadly, it appears that the iPhone 5′s speaker will continue to be a mono affair."

What can be learned from this? Quite a lot, apparently. Cult of Mac: "The iPhone 5 won’t be a big leap forward for either the home button or the audio. [See "junk" above] However, the shape of the [rumored] new dock connector and speaker do imply that there will be notable changes to the iPhone 5′s shape and internal make-up compared to the iPhone 4, probably necessitated by the rumored larger displays."

Enhanced voice recognition: A number of sites, like Gadgets and Gizmos, are rumoring that iPhone 5 will have an "enhanced voice recognition service." Apple can’t do anything that is just "new." In this case, the Gadgets and Gizmos headline excitedly, and awkwardly, wonders "Will the iPhone 5 to Include Ground Breaking Voice Recognition Features?"

The source for this wonderment is a considerably more substantive news story by MG Siegler at Techcrunch. Siegler reports that Apple is currently running Nuance Communications’ voice recognition software at its huge new North Carolina data center, a facility widely believed to be the foundation for new as-yet-unannounced cloud services from Apple. Siegler says this arrangement will let Apple "process this voice information for iOS users faster," keep that data away from third-party servers, and build on and improve voice processing services at will.

And, he says, it will make sense out of Apple’s acquisition last year of Siri, a company that developed a "virtual personal assistant" iPhone app, based on Nuance’s technology, which responds to spoken commands ("find activities for the kids in San Francisco") with recommendations. In March, Siegler noted that Siri’s technology "is said to be a big part of" iOS 5, less as a discrete app and more as a broader platform for application developers to exploit. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early June is expected by many to be where Apple unveils iOS 5. Siegler says questions still to be answered include how much of this voice recognition/process technology will be available to non-Apple software developers at the outset.

Thunderbolt I/O port: SemiAccurate tech news site’s Charlie Demerjian announced that iPhone 5 will have a Thunderbolt I/O port.  He had previously claimed that he’d been shown an iPhone 5 prototype earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, with a Displayport to output video. But now he thinks the Displayport will be Thunderbolt, the high-throughput I/O interface created by Intel and Apple.

Thunderbolt offers two-way channels with each delivering 10Gbps. Apple rolled it out on the new MacBook line in February and earlier this month on new iMacs.

That might sound good to you, but you’re not Charlie Demerjian. He is not impressed. "This may sound good, but it is nothing more than a vicious attempt at lock in and price extortion," he writes.

"So, why would Apple use vastly more expensive parts that do exactly what USB3 does, cost more, is much harder to design in, limits supplier choices, and isn’t compatible with 99.9% of the devices out there?"

There’s only one possible answer. "Easy, to lock you in." He forgot the "price extortion" part here.

"Capitalism and competition be damned, this is about profit margins, and that is exactly what Apple and Intel want," Demerjian writes. "That is why you will get Thunderbolt, not USB3 or Mini-Displayport on the iPhone 5, and you will pay dearly for it."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for "Network World."Twitter: john_cox@nww.comBlog RSS feed:

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