Apple’s odd choice to favor VGA over HDMI inside iPhone 4 leaves many scratching their heads. We’ll try to explain what happened, and why.
One announcement that Apple didn’t make at WWDC, was that iPhone 4 was compatible with the VGA adapter that Apple currently sells for iPad. With a maximum resolution of 1024×768, you might be asking, what the 720p?
And, it’s a fair question. Stores have pulled the old HD connection cables, and as we reported, iPhone 3GS was capable of playing HD video flawlessly. But, Apple is not out of the HDMI game, and no, they don’t expect you to buy an Apple TV as an apology on behalf of their omission.
The renaming of iPhone OS to iOS had little to do with iPhone 4, but with the long-rumored and likely replacement of Apple TV with its iOS-based successor. Switching from a five year old laptop-based platform (Apple TV is powered by an ancient Pentium M processor), to the Apple A4 processor, will allow Apple to reinvent the platform.
We’re not going to rumormonger about how such an iOS device will work, but the market was paved by devices such as Boxee Box. The Boxee Box lacks internal storage, instead relying on USB and network access to provide such content. And, that appears to be the direction Apple is heading. In a pinch, a user can use VGA to project their Keynotes and other documents on the screen. In fact, Apple let slip that iWork for iPad is going to be released on iPhone late yesterday.
But, it appears that Apple will instead rely on a thin client, based on a storage-less iPod touch, to feed video from both computers, and iOS devices (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).
In doing so, consumers may pay more up front, but save in the long run. A $99 thin client connecting with DLNA efficiency, would allow for consumers to stop having to buy connector cables for each gadget.
The downsides? Well, all the same problems you find with Apple mobile devices. A closed ecosystem that Apple must approve devices to use. In the face of products like Boxee Box (and, eventually, the iConsole for free), this may prove to be as tough road for Apple to climb. While it sounds nifty to have one-touch playback from iPod-to-TV, consumers will soon have many similar choices at a lower cost… and with access to all the content already stored on their computers.
In short, the “iOS TV” connector will likely at this point replace any immediate future for HDMI-on-iPhone. However, Apple’s dreams of an App Store success on the platform may not have the same immediate result either. Consumers may be turned off from a closed platform that further requires them to constantly be locked into Apple products to enjoy their content universally.
When EVO 4G has an HDMI port built-in to the device, Apple’s strategy in TV may wind up hurting them in mobile. EVO 4G wasn’t the first phone with HDMI, and it certainly won’t be the last.