Jobs is back: with a new iPhone

Gossip that the next-generation iPhone will be unveiled on Monday has the technology industry agog, says Nick Clark

The tension is palpable. Apple is preparing to kick off its annual conference next week and the internet has been buzzing with speculation that the company will unveil the next generation of its iPhone.

There is much riding on this unknown bit of kit as the group looks to expand its mass market appeal as well as face down a host of rivals, one of which has today launched what some believe could be the first "iPhone killer". Adam Leach, an analyst at the research group Ovum, said: "Apple has established the product in people's minds, but they have to prove they can keep innovating to stay out ahead. This is an important release for them."

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco kicks off on Monday, hosting more than 1,000 Apple engineers, and acting as a forum for developers and IT professionals who use the company's technology. For the past two years it has been the launching pad for new iPhones. There was good news for the group yesterday as it emerged that its founder, Steve Jobs, had recovered sufficiently from his recent ill health to return to the company sometime this month. He coule even present his traditional keynote at the conference, but currently his lieutenant Phillip Schiller is expected to announce the latest step forward in iPhone technology.

Michael Brook, editor of the technology magazine T3, said: "No one is quite sure what to expect, as we've only had two years of the iPhone. At one extreme it could be a whole new model, although it's more likely to be an updated version. At the other end it could just be a few updates, but that would be pretty disappointing."

The consensus among analysts and some of the iPhone-obsessed blogs is that the upgrades are likely to include a better camera, a video camera for the first time, and a compass. The storage capacity is likely to be lifted to 32 gigabytes, while the design could become sleeker, with a higher resolution touchscreen.

Users have also cried out for the battery life to be extended. "An interesting move was Apple applying for a patent on a solar panel screen. It could be embedded behind the touch screen and when you leave it out in the sunshine it would top up the battery power. That would go some way to helping solve the problem of the battery," Mr Brook said.

Yet, technology experts are hoping for something more revolutionary. Mr Brook said the company could follow the path it took with the iPod, by launching an iPhone Nano.

Carolina Milanesi, a research director at Gartner, said a Nano-style iPhone could well be a possibility. "It is taken for granted that Apple will launch something. The question is whether it will be high or low end. I think something like the Nano makes sense." The move will also allow it to hit the mass market more comprehensively, analysts said.

Mr Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007 to great acclaim, selling 270,000 in its first weekend. The following year, the group drove further ahead of rivals with the launch of the iPhone 3G. More than three million were sold in the first month.

Yet the group's rivals are beginning to catch up. Ms Milanesi said: "Apple definitely faces challenges. The touchscreen it brought to the mass market is now everywhere."

The smartphone battleground is heating up. Strategy Analytics said 152 million of the phones were sold last year, and it expects growth of up to a fifth this year. Apple faces unprecedented competition from BlackBerry. The group that cornered the market for corporate contracts is increasingly targeting consumers. It has struggled with its BlackBerry Storm in the UK, but in the US the BlackBerry Curve outsold the iPhone during the first quarter.

It also faces competition from the phones powered by Google's Android operating system. The biggest so far is the HTC Magic, launched earlier this year. Sales of Google-powered phones 8 million this year.

Many are jostling but only one is expected to have the draw to combat the iPhone on its own turf. The Palm Pre launches today after much fanfare, and Mr Brook of T3 said it was "the closest thing yet to an iPhone killer". It is no coincidence that the launch comes two days before the Apple conference, as one analyst said it is "a deliberate move to steal the limelight from Apple".

It is a dangerous strategy. Last year, Samsung launched its Omnia phone on the same day as the Apple conference in an attempt to act as a spoiler, and ended up getting lost. The iPhone still remains ahead, but for how long is unclear, and analysts said next week could be crucial.

"The iPhone is not as differentiated, so the challenge is to create something that looks as different as the iPhone did," Mr Leach said.

The challengers: Five biting into Apple

*The Palm Pre launches today and first reviews say it lives up to the hype. Palm said the phone is so in sync with your life "it feels like it's thinking ahead for you".

*No longer content with Wall Street, BlackBerry has targeted Apple's consumer heartland with Storm and Curve. US sales figures show that the latter is winning fans over.

*HTC Magic brings Google's Android to a touchscreen device. Experts say it takes Google's G1 phone to the next level.

*The industry is eagerly awaiting Toshiba's sleek TG01 device, which is set to be one of the most advanced of Windows Mobile phones.

*Samsung releases its latest smartphone challenger this month. Despite the mystery, hype is building.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam