Apple COO Tim Cook has poured cold water on some persistent rumors and indicated Apple could take legal action against a competitor.
An iPhone nano was one rumor that has been circulating for at least 18 months. Some reports said the device would have a smaller screen and possibly less functionality. The rumor was fanned in recent months by reports of nano casings being made and of China-based factories gearing up for nano production.
Making the Best Phone
But in an earnings conference call this week, Cook said Apple will not be producing any low-end phones and is not focused on becoming the biggest seller of mobile phones. Instead, he said, Apple wants to concentrate on offering the best phone. He added that software drives iPhone sales, and multiple screen sizes, input methods, and hardware increase the difficulties for developers.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said he expected Apple "to develop high-end and low-end versions of the iPhone over time, expanding to multiple price points."
But he anticipated that the differentiation would focus on faster processors, a better-quality camera, and the like, rather than versions that, for instance, lower screen resolution.
Cook also lanced any ideas that Apple might enter the netbook market at this time. These smaller-than-laptop, less-expensive devices are selling well, and more hardware makers are jumping into the category.
But Cook said netbooks, with cheaper parts and less software capabilities, offer a lower computing experience. He echoed CEO Steve Jobs, now on medical leave, who reportedly said at the last earnings conference call that Apple didn't "know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk."
A Veiled Threat To Palm?
However, Cook didn't totally close the door to the netbook market, saying the company will watch the category's growth. Apple well knows how quickly hardware can become smaller and lead to high-performance devices.
Cook also issued another kind of "no," which some observers took as a veiled threat against Palm's new Pre smartphone. Asked about the Pre and other new iPhone-like smartphones, Cook indicated that Apple will not hesitate to take legal action against companies that impinge on its intellectual property, although he said he was talking generally.
The Pre features multi-touch technology comparable to the iPhone's, and its development was led by a former top hardware engineer at Apple. Palm apparently thought Cook's remarks were directed at it, and a spokesperson has responded that Palm is ready to legally defend its innovations.