Two things have become apparent in the smart phone sector over the past few months. Android is here to stay, and Palm is not.
But the demise of an erstwhile foe does not afford Apple the luxury of cooling their heels. Android continues to gather momentum, and while it lacks iPhone's content and elegance, it is starting to match Apple's offering in terms of features.
It is therefore critical for Apple to leap ahead of the competition once again this summer, with the launch of their forth generation iPhone. Steve himself is reported to have promised Apple staff at a town hall meeting that it would be an "A+ update". But what can we expect from the new device? What's left on the to-do list? (Actually "to-dos," or tasks would be a great start).
Firstly, let's get the name out of the way. Since this phone will be the 4th generation, and it will be running the 4.0 OS, the odds are it will simply be called iPhone 4. (It's unlikely to be called iPhone 4G, since it won't support 4G mobile networks, and this whole "3GS" thing is getting unwieldy, and more like a complicated Sony product name than an elegant Apple one).
Secondly, enclosure. I was never a fan of the iPhone 3G enclosure - to me it's always looked tacky. The use of plastics is eminently practical in terms of signal strength, but they look terrible, and feel cheap in the hand. It seems likely that Apple will find a way to introduce an aluminum unibody enclosure to the iPhone 4, tying into the look of the rest of their mobile range. From a marketing perspective, it would be wise to key into the look of the new iPad and MacBooks, and from a sales perspective it's key for iPhone 4 to be a clearly radical departure if it's going to generate sales from previous iPhone owners.
Perhaps we can also finally expect to see that elusive front-mounted camera. And given that the iPhone OS now supports multiple resolutions, a higher resolution screen is also eminently possible. Perhaps we'll even be able to pinch and zoom the icons on the Springboard. A higher resolution screen also makes dashboard widgets for the default Springboard screen more likely - it's hard to believe that Apple will sit by while Android and Windows Phone 7 Series are enjoying this feature.
So, for what it's worth, MacPredictions presents this entirely speculative mockup of the iPhone 4. Hopefully it will give those of us in the "rest of the world" something to different to think about while all you Americans are enjoying your shiny new iPads next week.