iPhoneHellas, a Greek iPhone site, is reporting today that the next iteration of the iPhone will “feature new and innovative battery technology.” The site claims that it received information from a reliable source, and if you recall, iPhoneHellas is the same site that predicted the launch date for the iPhone OS 2.2 software update nearly 2 weeks in advance. While that’s hardly enough to establish a strong track record, it’s still worth noting.
Advanced battery technology is simply the latest rumor to a growing list of rumors regarding the next generation iPhone. Just 2 days after the release of the new iPhone 3.0 SDK, developers were quick to find data strings in the iPhone firmware which suggested a major hardware revision was in store. Building on that, AppleInsider recently reported, citing their own reliable source, that the next gen iPhone will include support for video recording. And if that isn’t enough to satiate your iPhone hunger, there were also reports late last week suggesting that the next iPhone model will support significantly faster Internet browsing speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. The current iPhone 3G only supports browsing speeds of up to 3.6Mbps.
Returning to the “new and innovative battery technology”, remember that it’s been nearly a year since Apple acquired P.A. Semi, a boutique microprocessor design company known for their sophisticated, and more importantly, low-power chips. As the software that people run on the iPhone becomes more CPU intensive, efficient battery life will become more of a necessity, and more importantly, a significant way to differentiate the iPhone from competitors who continue to try and deliver products that can give the iPhone a run for its money.
Battery life as a product differentiator
Eventually, the UI advantage of the iPhone over other phones will become less apparent as companies will continue to copy facets of the iPhone in addition to coming up with their own UI advancements. The buzz surrounding the yet to be released Palm Pre is evidence of this. With that in mind, Apple is betting on two factors to ensure that the iPhone maintains its competitive edge. Of course, there is the iTunes App Store, which if sales continue at their current pace, will break the 1 Billion download mark in the next 2 months or so. And second, there’s the issue of battery life. If the team and technology acquired from P.A. Semi is able to work with Apple to deliver a significantly longer lasting battery, it will obviously make it more practical to implement significant hardware improvements, in addition to satisfying users who will now be able to use their iPhones at full blast without worrying about running out of juice in 2 hours.
Apple strategy of differentiation via prolonged battery life was clearly in full effect when Apple announced a 17-inch MacBook Pro with a non-replaceable battery at this years Macworld. The result is a laptop that can run for up to 8 hours between charges, though real world testing puts the number a tad lower than that. But the underlying theme is that Apple is firmly aware of the importance of superior battery life in a marketplace when the features of competing products are continually converging. If “new and innovative” battery technology is indeed a part of the next gen iPhone, competitors will have an even tougher time of slowing the tide of the iPhone’s growing marketshare.