iPhony

John Markoff’s New York Times article speculating about a vaporware Apple-branded mobile “iPhone” is getting a lot traction. Go ahead and read it, but remember that it’s all bullshit speculation at this point.

Other than Jobs himself, who confirms nothing about an Apple iPhone, Mr. Markoff’s only sources are “industry analysts”. Industry analysts know nothing about Apple, and given their record in the tech industry in the last few years, it’s a wonder anyone quotes them at all. Even the Daring Fireball could have offered better insight than these bozos.

The article points to, as evidence that Apple might be working on mobile phones, “the presence of a variety of features in the new Macintosh OS software that would make more sense in a hand-held device than a desktop computer”:

Of the 12 new OS X features the company has been emphasizing on its Web site, most would be desirable for a hand-held phone, including chat capabilities, mail, an address book, calendar features, automatic networking and a synchronization feature that will become available in September.

And several of the features, including the company’s handwriting-recognition technology and Sherlock information-retrieval program, would be much more relevant to a small, portable device than to a desktop computer.

Sherlock in particular has been repositioned in a way that would make it a perfect counterpart for a portable phone. Its original purpose, which was finding files and content on the computer’s local disk, has been transformed into a more general “find” utility program. Now, Sherlock is being extended to search for types of information like airline and movie schedules and restaurant locations. The software can display maps and driving directions.

Certainly iSync is exactly the sort of technology that would help integrate mobile phones with Mac OS X. But that’s the whole point of iSync — to help synchronize information across the so-called digital hub. But Mail? And Sherlock? These are applications, not technologies. The article seems to insinuate that Apple could make Sherlock run on a cell phone; that’s impossible, unless the cell phone were actually running Mac OS X, which definitely is impossible. If Apple were to create an iPhone, and said iPhone were to have a search application called Sherlock, said Sherlock would by definition need to be completely rewritten.

Persnickety Side Note on the Times’s Style

The article refers to Apple’s flagship operating system as “the Macintosh OS”, which is wrong. The trademarked name is “Mac OS”. This is the sort of mistake that probably isn’t Mr. Markoff’s fault, but rather that of a Times copy editor. What’s strange is that they expanded “Mac” to “Macintosh”, but did not expand “OS” to “operating system”, which would have made it correct, turning it into a descriptive phrase, rather than a product name. “OS” (as a noun, not a name) seems entirely out of place in a newspaper that still puts the periods in “F.B.I.” and “C.I.A.”.

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