Another Day, Another iPhone Rumor

I’ve been trying not to answer my phone if it’s another iPhone rumor, but it keeps ringing. I feel like every analyst on the planet is drunk dialing me at the same time. Eventually, you have to pick it up and allow them to ramble.

This week is no different. The on-again-off-again rumors of Steve and company phoning home come from Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research. Wu (without citing sources) is convinced that Apple’s working on a candy-bar style phone, roughly the size of an iPod Nano, that will ship in three unknown colors. He’s guessing white, black, and metallic. He goes on to declare that the product has moved past the prototype stage and is ready for production.

The real question, which Wu doesn’t touch on, is Apple’s carrier strategy. A cellphone is nothing without a network to support it. And because America has two competing technologies, unlike the rest of the world, a plug-n-play option isn’t really feasible. This leaves Apple in the unenviable position of either partnering with a carrier (Cingular comes to mind), or starting up their own MVNO, most likely branded with iTunes. They could also go the Nokia route and sell the phone in Apple stores as an unlocked GSM device, allowing consumers to pop in a SIM card and have all sorts of fun.

Apple has always shied away from arrangements it can’t control, and will be looking for killer market share from the get-go, so the partnership route doesn’t look appealing. MVNOs, in contrast, tend to be money pits, with most unable to turn a profit. That just isn’t the Apple way. But this doesn’t mean this isn’t what Apple plans on doing, as I’d expect nothing less from the Jobsians than a third, unexpected option that would blow us away.

In a related, if disturbing note, there is really no FCC mention of this device, and wireless devices should be cleared by the FCC before they go to market. Fishy fishy.

Analyst: Apple’s iPhone Set for Production [iLounge]