Ever since the first iPhone was first unveiled on January 9, 2007, Apple has been running a race ofsorts, trying to keep at least a step ahead of competitors who "utilize" many of Apple's innovations.
Every time Apple has released a new iPhone, pundits have lined up to predict what great features werebrewing over in Cupertino. But when the iPhone 4S was announced, there were some griping fromApple fans that the phone was barely a marginal improvement. People wondered, is this as far as Applecan go? Has Apple run out of the jaw-dropping innovations that have caused so many bouts of shopping-hysteria?
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According to the latest rumor from Korea's IT News, the answer is, not by a long shot. According to thisnews report, Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 is likely to be housed in Liquidmetal, a proprietary alloy that ismade up of titanium, zirconium, nickel, copper, and other metals. This claim meshes with other reportsthat Apple is considering a unibody style shell for its iPhone, similar to what it already has on the marketfor its Macbook Pro line.
The idea that Apple would be looking toward Liquidmetal manufacturing for its next-gen iPhone alsomakes sense in the context of the business deals that Apple has made in the last few years. In 2010,Apple acquired the rights to utilize Liquidmetal technology for $30 million, although it has ostensiblybeen sitting on the rights for this technology. This may finally change with the next-gen iPhone.
In terms of creating a game-changer, utilizing Liquidmetal would certainly provide differentiation forthe iPhone against its Android competitors. It is a sort of Terminator-like metallic glass, which providesmore strength, resistance against scratching and denting, as well as a good strength-to-weight ratio. Thiswould allow Apple to fit more components and a larger battery into a thinner and stronger case. On topof that, there have been reports that Apple has been looking into using thinner displays on the next-geniPhone. A combination of these technologies could provide users with a thinner phone, a better battery,or both.
But as much as Apple would love to introduce a revolutionary new material for its iPhone, spinningmetal into gold in a sort of 21st century alchemy, it should heed its past experiences from treadingoutside of the line. When the iPhone 4 was released, with its newly designed antenna-band on theoutside of the phone, it ushered in the infamous "antenna-gate" that was only solved by giving everyiPhone 4 owner a free case. Given the short development cycles of today's consumer electronics, Applewill need to make sure that production processes and product specifications can be maintained giventhe new materials technology.