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Cloudy, 'mind-blowing' iPhone nano

The most intriguing iPhone rumor, however, comes from Cult of Mac – one which long-time Apple-watcher Leander Kahney says "will blow your mind."

The rumored iPhone nano, he says, "will have no memory for onboard storage of media... It will have only enough memory to buffer media streamed from the cloud." In case you missed the mind-blowing part of that statement, Kahney quoted his source as saying: "It would be a mostly cloud-based iOS." Presumably, there's some memory for local software.

The removal of extra storage would certainly make the iPhone nano less expensive to build, but as Kahney rightly points out, it could be problematic. Where would photos and videos be stored or buffered as they're taken by the iPhone's camera and before they can complete their upload to the cloud, for example, as opposed to media being buffered when brought down from the cloud?

Well, one answer to that problem would be that the iPhone nano could be cameraless – not a great selling point in a world where cameraphones are the go-to image-capturing devices for an entire new generation of users.

Then there's the matter of apps. It's certainly possible that an iPhone nano's Apple-supplied apps – Phone, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and the like – could be cloud-based, but would third-party apps also reside in the cloud, along with all their data and files? Wouldn't such a usage model put a crushing load on telecom services?

And what about games, one of Apple's most loudly touted iOS usage models? We can't imagine 3G latencies being tolerable even for Angry Birds, let alone Fieldrunners or Real Racing.

If Kahney's source is correct, the problems that a lack of storage in an iPhone nano would cause could of course be obviated by a microSD slot, shifting the cost of storage from Apple to the device's owner. But Apple has historically shown no interest in allowing memory-card upgrades to any of its iDevices, and by doing so it would loosen the tight control it demands over app installation – and, for that matter, lose the possible revenue stream of cloudy service.

But as wary as we may be of this final rumor, we're not counting it out entirely. Whether terrestrial data-lovers like it or not, the cloud is the future – a future in which users trade control for what will be sold to them as security and relatively unlimited storage capacity.

After all, cloudy apps are the basis of Google's Chrome OS strategy – a strategy that may be limping a bit these days, but is still moving forward. A cloudy iPhone might work much the same way – but whether it'll have a 4-inch display, be one-half or two-thirds the size of an iPhone 4, or have a slide-out keyboard remains unknown.

And you know Apple: they don't comment on unreleased produts, or on rumors and speculation. ®

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