Chicago (IL) – Welcome to the next round of rumors and leaks about the “next” iPhone: The latest iPhone firmware hints provide some information on Apple’s iPhone global expansion plans, with Russia and Asia-Pacific being the prime targets. A MacNN reader claims to have found evidence for a GPS module in the next-generation iPhone and Gizmodo revealed a new feature to save web images in the iPhone photo library.
There is much more information in the latest iPhone Beta SDK as previously thought and developers and hackers are coming up with new information about new features almost on a daily basis. The most recent SDK seed apparently reveals support for additional language support, leading Computerworld to believe that this may reflect new markets for device. The magazine discovered support for Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Korean and Portuguese languages. These languages add to already existing support for English, French, German, Italian and Russian. As the handset was subsequently released in the UK, France, Germany and Italy – but not Russia – we believe that Russia and countries in Asia-Pacific will be the next targets of Apple.
A MacNN reader, who was diving through iPhone developer documentation, reportedly found “nearly conclusive evidence” of a GPS module in the next-gen iPhone. The documentation hinted towards altitude measurements, which is not possible with the iPhone’s WPS (and quite frankly not really accurate to within 100 ft in GPS as well). However, the developer note stated that this feature is supported in iPhone OS 2.0 and later.
Gizmodo also made this round of iPhone news by discovering an updated Safari version within the iPhone 2.0 software update, which will allow users to save web images to iPhone photo albums. According to Gizmodo, this feature works by holding your finger against an image for a longer time than usual, prompting a pop-up dialog to appear. Users can save a web image to iPhone photo albums for use as a background images, email or use as a custom contact icon. The new web image saving feature adds to the already discovered contact search and iCal meeting invitation features reported previously.
As far as the language support is concerned, it is of particular interest that the newly revealed Korean language files hint at Apple’s preparation to debut the iPhone in the Far East with a Korean release, since talks in China have hit a wall. Apple was engaged in talks with China Mobile to release the iPhone in China, but China Mobile declined to play along Apple’s revenue sharing model. China Mobile has more than 380 million subscribers, covering almost 30% of the Chinese population. In total, China has about 565 million mobile phone users.
China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou confirmed that his company will not agree to a revenue sharing model Apple has in place in the U.S. and in Europe and said that his company will work with Apple once the two parties have worked out a better business model. Jianzhou told press members that the “door will remain open as long as there is customer demand.” And it seems that customer demand for an iPhone in China is overwhelming. A recent Pearl Research survey indicated that 68% of the Chinese population has heard of the iPhone. 88% of those have an “interest” in the handset, despite a steep $500 price tag suggested by the survey.
Apple allegedly gets a monthly cut for each new AT&T subscriber that buys an iPhone. Media reports claimed that Apple got away with as much as 30% per user contract in deals signed with some operators in Europe. However, Apple executives recently hinted that the company may consider other business models beside revenue sharing: The Australian web site MacTalk claims that Australians will get unlocked iPhones soon. As the website reports, iPhone users in Australia won’t be locked into a contract, will be free to choose from more than one mobile operator. It seems Apple will have to adjust its business model for markets that take the iPhone into new cultures and economies to translate the American and European success into a global success.