What the iPhone OS 3.0 Update Might Really Mean

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iphone os update could compete with Android?
File this under random musings du jour. All the fuss about Apple's forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0 got me thinking. And in so thinking, I began to extrapolate. What if Apple is trying to beat Android to market with a mobile companion/Internet device/mini-notebook-like gadget?

We've already heard tale of Android migrating out of the smartphone handset and into other mobile internet devices. Asus has talked about having an Android-based version of its Eee PC netbook series, and Archos plans an Android-based Internet tablet; neither product is expected until late 2009. Lately, the rumor mill has been rife with speculation over a netbook-like device coming soon from Apple.

Enter Apple with its highly functional iPhone OS 3.0. Never mind the implied constrictions the name "iPhone OS" has attached to it; the possibilities are endless for a mobile gadget that could run this operating system software. If Apple can replicate its successful marriage of iPhone hardware with its software on other devices, it could easily quickly become a dominant force in portable hardware.

I'm imagining a device with Apple's usual attention to slick, eye-catching industrial design; a device that's easy-to-use; a device that can be equal parts media player extraordinaire, productivity companion (yes, that would require Apple finally adding support for cut-and-paste), Web device, and game machine. The applications for all of the above are there--and more certainly could come. And the interoperability and shared interface with the iPhone and iPod Touch could herald quite the little empire if Apple could get enough traction with its devices.

In my imagination, this device will one-up the Amazon Kindle 2 by becoming the next true, connected device-- a device that has seamlessly integrated 3G connectivity. Perhaps a basic level connectivity comes included with the device (for example, Kindle 2 doesn't charge extra for its always-available connectivity; but, you're not downloading huge multimedia files and graphical Web pages on Kindle, either); or, you get a step-up plan that won't break the bank (as existing 3G data plans for notebooks do today).

If Apple were to take the step to bring iPhone OS to devices beyond the iPhone and iPod Touch, it wouldn't be the first time a mobile operating system jumped from handset to device. Ignoring, for a moment the talk of future Android-based devices, Microsoft paved the way for this path with its Windows CE operating system more than a decade ago. The trouble was, the Windows CE OS--a predecessor to what's now called Windows Mobile--just wasn't that easy to use. Nor were the devices. Apple's iPhone OS is already lightyears ahead of Windows CE in the usability department; and the device potential today is lightyears ahead, too.

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