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Tuesday, 23 December 2008 03:09

iPhone nano rumours fanned by case manufacturer

Among the varied Apple rumours is the fabled iPhone nano. The case manufacturer that's scored two from two - iPhone 3G and fourth-gen iPod nano products ahead of Apple's announcements - is now flagging cases for the iPhone nano.

Apple likes to announce products on its own terms. Suppliers have been ditched after leaking information about forthcoming products, and some observers have speculated that Apple is withdrawing from Macworld Expo in part to free itself from making announcements to someone else's schedule.

One problem with outsourced manufacturing is that the people who are involved in making the products aren't necessarily as aligned with the brand as they would be if they actually worked for Apple.

And accessory makers stand to gain a lot if they can get new items into the channel alongside the products they support. Any delay means a rival may grab market share.

This is especially true for relatively generic devices such as phone cases. And when the phone in question is an (supposedly) new iPhone, you know how much buzz it will attract.

The idea of an iPhone nano - a reduced size and presumably reduced functionality version of Apple's popular handset - has been around for some time.

Case manufacturer XSKN's web catalogue now includes a section for iPhone nano cases, giving credence to rumours of a more compact iPhone.

What do we know about the case? Please read on.

No product details are provided, just the tantalising "1 Styles, 17 Products".

While this may just be a case of a vendor flying a kite to keep potential customers interested, pictures of XSKN cases for the iPhone 3G and fourth generation iPod nano did emerge before the corresponding products.

Earlier this month, iDealsChina.com claimed the iPhone nano was the same height as the current iPod nano, but wider and thicker. Production was scheduled to begin on December 20.

One notable thing about the report was the suggestion that the iPhone nano will not be a 3G device.

Several questions are raised by the dimensions of the supposed iPhone nano. Are there any other features that will be missing compared with the 'full size' iPhone? If the iPod touch is an iPhone without the phone, will the iPhone nano be an iPhone without the Wi-Fi capability?

What will the screen resolution be? If the same number of pixels are squeezed into a smaller space, legibility may suffer. If there are fewer pixels, what are the implications for existing applications?

If Apple has come up with a way of making iPhone/iPod touch applications resolution independent, that would also work for devices with larger screens, such as a possible Apple netbook.

How much might the iPhone nano cost? Please read on.

iDealsChina subsequently published images of XSKN's iPhone nano case. These images were not photographs of a finished product, but what appear to be CAD renderings of the design.

So will we see the iPhone nano at Macworld Expo? You might have thought that His Steveness would have wanted to do the announcement himself, but we know Phil Schiller is giving the keynote.

Possible explanations are varied: Apple doesn't think the iPhone nano is a big deal; it will be announced at a separate event; it is important but Jobs isn't up to making the announcement (speculation about his health seems likely to continue until he leaves the CEO's chair); or there is no iPhone nano.

One more thought: while it now seems certain that Wal-Mart is set to start selling iPhones, reports say existing models will be discounted by a very small amount.

Could the the supposed $US99 Wal-Mart iPhone with 4G of memory have been a combination of two separate leaks - one being the deal with Wal-Mart, the other the iPhone nano?

On a related note, the domain name iphonenano.com redirects to www.apple.com/iphone/. According to whois, iphonenano.com is registered to an individual in Moscow, and appears to have been first registered in 2006.

iphonenano.com is up for sale through Network Solutions' certified offer service.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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