Verizon leads race for (the real) iPhone 4G
Big Phone set for the boot?
The stars are beginning to align for an iPhone that rides on Verizon's upcoming 4G LTE next-gen wireless broadband to appear next year.
But until then, don't expect an iPhone to be offered by Verizon.
At the same conference, when Steve Jobs was asked whether there would be any advantage to having two carriers in the US — which would undoubtedly be AT&T plus Verizon — Jobs answered: "There might be." And this was just after he had said that although AT&T service was improving, "I do think they have some issues".
Jobs also said that he was only talking about today, and that "The future is long. I can't talk about that stuff." Verizon's Johnson was also only talking about "the immediate future," and not, say, early next year, when a wave of 4G LTE handsets should begin to appear.
AT&T is already pulling its broadband wagons into a circle in preparation for a 4G future. Just yesterday, Big Phone killed unlimited data plans — a move that The Reg surmised might be a preemptive strike against increasing monthly bandwidth use. Dan Frommer over at Silicon Valley Insider suggests that what's spooking AT&T is the increase in mobile video.
Which is exactly what Johnson thinks is The Next Big Thing™. "I think video is kind of the brave new world," he said, "and we're still in the wild west days of video with different formats and codecs. But I think the devices you'll begin to see — especially when we launch our fourth-generation LTE network — you'll be seeing video being much easier to use, greater compatibility between formats and devices. You're going to see people originating video, as well, and doing two-way video conferencing on 4G."
As the Gizmodophone and other next-gen iPhone leaks have shown, two-way video conferencing appears to be a capability of the iPhone that Jobs is likely to announce on Monday — which, perhaps not coincidentally, is the same day that AT&T will kill off unlimited data plans for new phone subscribers.
Verizon is welcoming 4G video. AT&T is defending itself against it.
In February, AT&T said that its commercial 4G deployment was "scheduled to begin in 2011" — but didn't say when in 2011. "Verizon Wireless," says Johnson, "is going to roll out 4G in between 25 and 30 commercial-launch markets this year," which will prepare it for a major push early in 2011, which is when LTE handsets should begin to appear.
If one of those handsets is an 4G LTE iPhone, it's even money that it'll be carried by Verizon as well as — or maybe even instead of — AT&T. ®
Proof of the impending idiocracy
"I personally know MANY people that are holding out on an iPhone for two things"
I was really doubting this until I saw that you capitalized MANY. Glad 3 people are waiting for a non-AT&T + video-chat iPhone. If those features were what people wanted, they would already be buying phones that have those features. Instead, people are buying a phone that has 1254 Fart applications. Just keep watching the Fuddruckers sign for the spelling changes...
Mobile Phones in the US
Remember a few important points. The iPhone v1 sold so well in the US because the US was a backward market for mobile comms. This isn't necessarily a slight on the US market, it is just a feature of the fact that, of the developed countries, the US is the hardest to do mobile comms in. Japan and Western Europe are much more densely populated, so you have less masts each carrying more dollars of calls/data. The US has some extreme density areas (New York City) and lots of wild open spaces. None of the major technologies worked well in both cases.
After the 3G auctions in the UK, Three (Hutchison) pushed video calling and video calling handsets a lot. Like MMS though it never took off in the way the carriers expected it to. Remember that in the history of mobile phones, unexpected things have taken off, and heavily pushed ideas haven't. SMS wasn't expected to be huge, but it turned out that it was. It has turned out that what is starting to use the bandwidth that 3G provided primarily for video calls is apps and mobile internet. Not MMS or Video Calls. It doesn't mean the handsets didn't support it.
Anyway, in the context of this article, I think the video people are generally referring to is more likely things like youtube etc. Not video calls which I doubt will ever make up a significant percentage of data traffic on the mobile networks.
Video calling is a gimmick
I've had 3 phones that have supported video calling, many of my friends and colleagues have had them too, yet the total number of video calls I've ever made is: zero. My currect Legend doesn't support it so I guess I missed the boat on that one.
The things is, video calling was one of these things that we were going to be able to do in...The Future. Only when the future arrived we realised that it wasn't what we actually wanted or needed.
Mobile network 3 launched in 2003 in the UK with much fanfare about video calling (in 2003!) and, AFAIK, one of their early insistences was that phones on their network had to have two cameras and support video calling. This was to be their great new cash cow and they were going to make sure we were all going to be able to use it.
Fast forward seven years and I actually struggled to find any phones from 3 that even support video calling, such was its abject failure in the martketplace. Now that 3G and post-3G networks are the norm, most other providers are the same - very few devices even support two-way video calling, even though the networks nowadays are far better placed to handle it than 3's decidedly patchy 2003 3G effort
So, the experience in the mature markets of Europe and the Far East (I'm guessing at a potential market in the region of 300+ million consumers?) tells us that video calling is pretty much a dead duck, but now were supposed to be getting excited that the iPhone getting a front-facing camera version will revolutionise things? Puh-leeze...
If video calling takes off on iPhone then I guess it will prove one thing: Jobs can sell *anything* to some people, whether they actually want/need it or not, as long as it has that wee Apple logo on a slick enclosure and a premium price attached.