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Apple Drops Hints About Netbooks, iPhone Nano

Apple's top brass let slip some tantalizing clues about the company's plans for an "iPhone Nano," netbook, and Apple TV during the their quarterly earnings conference call on Wednesday. Or did they? With Apple, it's always hard to tell.
Apple's top brass let slip some tantalizing clues about the company's plans for an "iPhone Nano," netbook, and Apple TV during the their quarterly earnings conference call on Wednesday. Or did they? With Apple, it's always hard to tell.Tim Cook, Apple's acting chief executive, expressed disdain for the idea that the company might come out with a low-priced version of the iPhone, rumored to be called the "iPhone Nano."

He said, "You know us, we're not going to play in the low-end voice phone business. That's not who we are. That's not why we're here. We'll let somebody do that. Our goal is not to be the unit share leader in the phone industry, it is to build the best phone."

Steve Jobs made similar remarks during the last quarterly conference call in October:


When asked why Apple only has one product offering in the vast smartphone market and what further opportunities for innovation or "other market opportunities within that market" Apple might have, Jobs replied, "I wasn't alive then, but from everything I've heard, Babe Ruth only had one home run. He just kept hitting it over and over again.

"I think that the traditional game in the phone market has been to produce a voice phone in a hundred different varieties. But as software starts to become the differentiating technology of this product category, I think that people are going to find that a hundred variations presented to a software developer is not very enticing. And most of the competitors in this phone business do not really have much experience in a software platform business."

I don't remember seeing that Babe Ruth quote in October. I love it.

On the other hand, Cook hinted that there might be a netbook in the future -- but don't stay up nights waiting for it. He echoed and expanded on some of Jobs' previous objections to the category: The hardware is underpowered, software isn't that good, keyboards are cramped, displays are small. And, says Cook, there isn't really that much demand.

But he added: "It's a category we watch. We've got some ideas here. ... "

Apple TV, a product that Jobs himself dismissed as a "hobby," is doing pretty well, with sales up 300% over the past year. "However, let me be clear, we still consider this a hobby," Cook said, adding: "It is clear the movie rental business is working and there are more customers who want to try it. We will continue to invest there, because we believe there is something there for us in the future."