Does the iPad open the door for an iPhone nano?

iPadWedge2Earlier I commented that the iPad expands Apple’s mobile platform upward, giving higher-end, premium-priced apps a venue apart from the larger, crowded, competitive, price-slashed iPhone app market. But for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Thus, I wonder if Apple’s next step will be to expand downward with a smaller, feature light iPhone, i.e., an iPhone nano.


As a phone, the iPhone is the easiest I’ve ever used. Not just compared to other mobiles, but easier than modern landline phones too. I never had to learn where buttons are or what icons mean. The system is idiot-proof. This has led me many times to say that Apple should release a stripped down iPhone focused on calls. Yes, I know that seems counter-intuitive given that the entire industry is headed in the other direction, but maybe the iPad makes it a viable option.

A common reaction to the iPad has been “Why do I need one if I already have an iPhone and a Macbook?” Well, what if you didn’t have an iPhone or other smartphone? What if all you had was a plain old voice and text phone? In that case, there is a void that a tablet for web, email and other data might fill (with a monthly rate the same as adding data to a voice plan).

The smartphone + notebook combo works great if you’re a power user. But what if you’re not? What if you want your phone to work primarily as a phone, delivering voice and text all-day, and want a decent-sized screen to view maps, eBooks, and movies? In this case, a better pairing would be phone + tablet, or iPhone nano + iPad.

Furthermore, the partnering of iPhone nano + iPad doesn’t have to be limited to the conventional division of duties. The nano might be without mobile broadband, but it could use Bluetooth to shuffle data between it and the iPad, allowing pass-through notifications, use as a remote control, and data syncing. You can’t do that with a notebook sleeping in a bag, but it could work with an always-on device like the iPad.

As the iPad leads the App Store toward premium apps, an iPhone nano would push the other way, giving the super-simple freebie apps a place of their own.

This is, of course, pure speculation on my part. I have no inkling as to whether Apple has an iPhone nano in the works, with or without those advanced sync features. Regardless, I think there is an opportunity here for a new device pairing scenario. If Apple does not release a stripped down iPhone to complete the pair, someone else could step in with a phone to do the job or even a phone + tablet pairing of their own.

11 Comments

  1. jethro_static

    01/29/2010 at 7:46 pm

    5-7″ Ipad would be nice. But e-reader would be hard to read on that size. If Apple are gonna use the full OSX on a tablet, let it be 15.4 – 17″ screen for maximum productivity. Axiotron’s Modbook pro is 15.4 ” but is very expensive.

    Now I understand why the iPad’s screen is so big and is using the iPhone’s OSX. Apple wants to penetrate the e-book reading market as well. They supported that by opening their iBook store. E-readers do not need a full blown OSX. So instead, they took a 10″ screen,iPhone OSX and put an e-reader app. Plus all the goodies of the Appstore for Iphone included.

    Steve Jobs is not santa clause. He is a Businessman first. So now, People ask why is there no camera, multitasking etc, etc? Well if Apple put everything on the iPad now, What iPad are they gonna sell us next year?

    Reply

  2. Sam

    01/30/2010 at 2:00 am

    An ereader would be hard to read at 5-7″ size? There are literally millions of ereaders already operating at that size; a Kindle 2 has a 6″ diagonal screen.

    Reply

  3. Jake

    01/30/2010 at 2:52 am

    I thought the iPhone was now the iPad Nano.

    Reply

  4. Patrick

    01/30/2010 at 4:09 am

    Makes a great deal of sense to me. My current kit comprises a Nokia N79(their smallest form factor N series phone),an iPod Touch and a Fujitsu ST6012 Tablet PC.

    The phone is used almost exclusively for voice calling/texting with the added benefit of being an always on email notifier(Nokia’s Mail for Exchange) The only other use made of the phone (apart that is from using it to GPS track my daily running routes and always on geotagging of photos taken with its 5MP camera) is to consistently use it to generate a WiFi hotspot(via WalkingHotSpot) as tethering is permissible for a small upgrade price in the UK courtesy of T-Mobile.

    The iPod Touch thus becomes the quickest plus minimum comfort level way of Web browsing either by tethering to the phone or public access WiFi. Emailing is a far better experience on the iPod than the phone and both products together can still fit in your pocket without making it seem you’ve just left the local flea pit which is re-running Debbie Does Dallas. FTP/VNC apps complete the undoubted brilliance of the iPod while still hating the anal Apple mentality which prevents me Bluetoothing files to it.

    The Tablet PC thus becomes my Desktop replacement, both for serious work and the joy of handwriting which Apple has yet to catch up on.

    From my own experience can quite easily see the concept of a Nano phone plus iPad working for many folks. Having said that see the lack of tethering as a really big drawback for mass market consumption as it means two data plans when only one is likely to justifiable by Joe Public. Also think the size issue of the iPad will be a turn off for many folks.

    So a market segment definitely larger than just Apple fan boys/geeks.

    Reply

  5. TimJDav

    01/30/2010 at 7:46 am

    Right now, the Ipad and IPhone make a good compliment to each other. Think of the Iphone as the smartphone you have with you at all times. You can get your work done, just as you can on your Ipad, but if you have your Ipad I(smartbook) its going to be faster, and more enjoyable. It’s also going to be easier with the larger screen because you have a larger view of what your working with. Larger perspective=better view.

    The IPad does not bring anything new to the table, but it improves on the features of the IPhone in cases where a larger screen would be beneficial.

    It’s like Job’s said, you just have to hold one in your hands and you will understand. I think he’s banking on the WOW factor of the device.

    As a student, I can see myself laying this device on my desk in a class, rather then my IPhone. Instructors don’t like students having there phones on their desk’s in view, and they especially do not like to see them using them in a lecture because they do not expect them to be using them for note taking, or in relation to the class.
    With the Ipad, it will be more understood that it’s out for school use….plus my own use as I’ll be using google voice to text message my friends and/or be using facebook.

    Reply

  6. Gary

    01/30/2010 at 9:10 am

    I keep telling friends asking me things like “why doesnt it have full iTunes on it so I can manage mu music”?, that it is a “companion” device, not a desktop/laptop replacement, as mentioned above. It fits great between smartphone/laptop – but as much as I’ll be buying one, I do keep coming back to the redundancy between it, and my iPhone – especially in the area of data plans. So, Sumo – to your point – should be interesting to see what they do possibly in a “light” or “nano” iPhone. More than that, I just hate that I have to pony up the extra bucks for another data plan (I already have too many). This is where an iPhone tethering plan would be great (via BT to the iPad). I have a Mifi, but that won’t do anything for me as far as GPS or mapping on the iPad I assume??

    Reply

  7. Chris

    01/30/2010 at 11:17 am

    TimJDav,

    How do you plan to use it as a student in class? I’m a student too and I was expecting to be able to write on the iPad – its size is nearly perfect since it approaches the size of a composition book, its not heavy or lacking in battery life like other tablet PC’s, and its virtual keyboard is sufficient for sending quick emails/IMs throughout the day. But since you can’t write on it and the virtual keyboard can’t possibly be sufficient for note taking (my opinion) I’m wondering how you plan to fit it into your “in class” workflow.

    I ask out of curiosity because as a student who is about to make the transition to teacher I can’t imagine how it would improve productivity rather than being a distraction. Thus, I wouldn’t be any more comfortable with it in my classroom than I would be a phone.

    Just Curious.

    Reply

  8. TimJDav

    01/30/2010 at 3:28 pm

    Right now I’m using my HP Tz3 with an 8 cell battery(convertible tablet). With the protruding battery propped up a good bit and I can put the laptop into tablet mode and use the windows onscreen keyboard (windows 7, with multi-touch)

    I find myself able to type VERY fast and accurately with onscreen keyboard when it’s stretched out and made to be the same size as a real keyboard. I use the laptop in tablet mode with the onscreen keyboard because it gives me a lower-profile, and is less protrusive, as the screen would be in laptop mode. Additionally, I have the Pen at hand in-case I need to add some annotations with Ink (in Word its easy to switch from typing to ink) I could do all this in laptop mode with the real keyboard too, but I have found this way to work well too.

    Because of this experience I have, I can see myself typing on the Ipad very easily. It will be a learning curve just as the IPhone was for me, but I have a suspicion that eventually I may get better with a touch screen keyboard with auto complete. Plus I can just set the Ipad on top of my books…My tablet demands all of my desk space normally…

    Truly though, I’m going to have to wait and see how I can use it. I know I’m going to get one regardless though.

    I’m a Nursing student, and my Major will eventually be Informatics, so I’m always looking for ways that Tech can be used in the medical field…so I like to have that tech to try and apply in school. That way I can look at situations in my clinical and think, “How can I do this better with technology?”

    Reply

  9. Techni

    01/30/2010 at 3:46 pm

    Answer: no

    they wouldnt be able to make money from the app store which is why ipad is a big iphone

    Reply

  10. Achim

    02/01/2010 at 3:32 am

    What I really would like to see is an iPod Touch with 3G and the AT&T-deals of the iPad. On my iPhone I rarely use the phone but connect to the internet all the time.

    @Gary: I think an iPad can be a laptop replacement. If you have a PC to sync at home, for many people (not for me) the iPad might do just enough.

    As for handwriting: As much as I hate to say this, I think that taking notes with a pen and using hand recognition is a small market that the iPad will never focus. But I am sure this might be a great chance for coming Windows 7 tablets to step in …

    Reply

  11. Gary

    02/01/2010 at 9:15 am

    @Achim – true – should have been more specific – what I meant by “replacement” is replace your home laptop/desktop with an iPad as a main system (housing music, photos, etc). Obviously not ideal in many regards…

    Reply

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