Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nintendo Claims Demand for Wii Is Higher than “Ever Anticipated”

Nintendo Corp. said on Friday that it was thinking about withdrawing TV advertisements of Wii game console-related products for some time. The motive for such an extraordinary decision was claimed to demand, which exceeds expectations of Nintendo and the company’s potential inability to fulfill it.

“[The demand for Wii] has been unprecedented and higher than Nintendo could ever have anticipated,” a spokesperson for the company is reported to have said in an interview with Times Online web-site.

Advertisements of Nintendo Wii attract attention not only to Wii and its unique capabilities in particular, but also to video game consoles in general. As a result, when a potential Nintendo Wii customer comes to a store and sees that the desired game system is sold out, he or she may pay attention to other options available on the market, such as Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 or 2. The consequence of such situation for Nintendo is a missed opportunity to get another gamer into the Wii camp during holiday season because of short supplies. That said, Nintendo wants to move some of its ad campaigns into early 2008, when the demand will still be strong, but not incredible, like in December.

“[Nintendo] is looking at moving some advertising on some products into early 2008 [so to] act responsibly,” the spokesperson is reported to have said.

Nintendo Wii is the least technologically advanced new-generation video game console, its rivals – Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 – have much more computing power inside and therefore can display more realistic graphics. But Wii has unique motion-sensitive game controller and games that appeal even to those, who do not typically play video games either on game consoles, or personal computers.

The question that analysts and observers ask these days is whether the market of novice gamers has capacity to grow further, or it is relatively limited and unparalleled demand towards Wii is heading to its end sometime in 2008; which is why, some think, Nintendo in intentionally undersupplies Wii to create hype and additional publicity for its latest game system.

“The issue of supply management has to be questioned, not least because 2008 is going to be the crunch year for the Wii. It’s then that we’ll discover whether it’s a fad or something with legs,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst with Screen Digest research company.

Nintendo Wii features IBM’s custom PowerPC architecture-based microprocessor named Broadway clocked at 729MHz and code-named Hollywood chip with built-in graphics core, DSP and I/O features from ATI that operates at 243MHz, earlier reports suggested. Nintendo Wii uses 91MB of memory in total: 23MB of “main” 1T-SRAM, 64MB of “external” 1T-SRAM and 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. Nintendo’s Wii does not feature a hard disk drive, instead, it boasts with 512MB of flash memory and has a card reader, which allows further storage expansion.

Nintendo set the recommended retail price of ¥25 000 (about $204) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 ($342) in Europe.

Dell’s Personal Computers Head to Best Buy Stores

Dell, one of the world’s largest suppliers of personal computers in the world, said that it agreed with Best Buy, a large retail chain in the U.S., to sell its desktop and notebook computers via its stores. Perhaps, the move is a little late to be a sales driver for dell this holiday season, but the fact that Dell will have about 900 new locations may indicate that the computer maker is on the right way with its retail push strategy.

For years Dell used to sell its black personal computers through the Internet and shipped it directly to end-users, which guaranteed low price, but at some point it ceased to guarantee customer’s satisfaction. Not only users started to demand systems that would not be dull black or grey, but also some started to desire to touch their purchase before getting it and, perhaps, even try. Since the Internet can hardly provide such opportunities, Dell had to change and since the beginning of this year it agreed with several retail chains both in the U.S. and overseas.

Dell recently announced relationships with Carrefour in Europe, Staples in the U.S., Courts in Singapore, Gome in China, Bic Camera Inc. in Japan, Carphone Warehouse in the U.K. and Wal-Mart in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Mexico. With the agreement with Best Buy, Dell products will be available in nearly ten thousand retail stores around the globe.

Dell said that it will sell a variety of XPS and Inspiron notebook and desktop computers, including the new XPS One through more than 900 Best Buy locations in the U.S. in the next few weeks. Best Buy will stock a variety of notebooks, including the Dell XPS M1330 in white, the Inspiron 1521 in blue and black, and the Inspiron 1420 in black. Additionally, the Dell XPS One desktop will be available. Other desktops to be sold in Best Buy include the Dell Inspiron 530, 531, and 531s. Additional models and colors will be available in coming months.

“Seeing the latest fashion colors of our Inspiron and XPS notebooks or previewing the ultimate gaming experience on a high-performance system can be an important part of how people shop. In the next few weeks, people looking to upgrade to a Dell notebook or desktop in the U.S. can visit their local Best Buy to check out and purchase our award-winning line of products,” said Michael Tatelman, vice president of sales and marketing for Dell’s global consumer business.

Dell hopes that by offering its computers via its online store as well as via retail chains it will be in good position to recapture the market share it owned sometime back.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Gets DivX Playback Capability

Shortly after the PlayStation 3 from Sony got support for DivX movies playback, its more successful rival – Microsoft Xbox 360 – also obtained the same functionality. The move came without any loud public statements; however, it is very likely that both Microsoft and Sony will put DivX support as another serious advantage over Nintendo Wii, which is on-track to outsell PS3 and X360 combined eventually.

“The convenience of full-screen movie previews and enhanced video codec support further expand the options when it comes to the Xbox 360 entertainment experience,” a short statement within a long coverage of improvements of the most recent Xbox 360 Dashboard update reads.

December 2007 Video Playback FAQ from Xbox Team does specify that that with the latest software update Microsoft Xbox 360 game console obtained support for decoding of video streams encoded using MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple & Advanced Simple Profile codec, which means that from now on Xbox 360 can playback DivX and Xvid movies.

The DivX and its brother XviD formats are used to distribute copyright protection-free movies typically by the Internet and usually without content producer approval. Both codecs are based on MPEG 4 ASP and offer balance between video quality and file size. To date, over 100 million DivX Certified products have been shipped into the market, and it is anticipated that Sony PS3 and Microsoft X360 will expand that number by nineteen million of units already sold through.

Microsoft Xbox 360 can playback DVDs, HD DVDs with a special add-on drive that sells for $129 as well as files downloaded from the Internet. Sony’s PlayStation 3, which comes with built-in Blu-ray disc (BDs) drive, can also playback standard DVDs, BDs as well as various other content. However, the main threat for both consoles – Nintendo Wii – does not have support for movie playback in any form currently. As a consequence, Wii cannot be positioned as a fully-featured multimedia hub, which is exactly what Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. tell about their latest game machines.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine provides a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. Currently Microsoft Xbox 360 is available for $279, $349 or $449 depending on the version.

IBM Files Complaint with ITC Against Asustek Computer

IBM on Thursday said it had filed a complaint against Asustek Computer and its subsidiary in North America with the United States International Trade Commission. The inventor of the personal computer (PC) claims that certain products and components which Asus makes and sells infringe its patents. IBM demands ban for those products from import into the U.S.

In particular, IBM alleges that certain products by Asustek infringe its patents that cover PC power supply (U.S. Patent No. 5,008,829), automatic fan speed control (5,249,741) as well as a method and hardware that make a cluster of computers appear as a single host on network (5,371,852). If the first two patents may be infringed by Asustek’s notebook computers, barebone systems, servers as well as system components, then the third one is may be infringed by Asus network equipment and servers.

IBM indicated it had made repeated attempts to reach a licensing agreement between the companies. IBM’s position has been – and remains – that Asustek either must license or stop using IBM’s patented technology. In the complaint IBM requests an exclusion order against the importation of infringing Asustek computer products and components into the United States.

While Asus is a well-known brand for computer components, notebooks and some other products, the company also makes systems for other computer vendors, such as Dell or Sony, using its manufacturing capacities in China. It is unclear whether those products also infringe IBM’s patents and should be banned from selling in the U.S., or Dell, Sony and other clients of Asustek Computer have licensed the aforementioned patents of IBM.

IBM annually invests billions of dollars in research and development and has extensive patents and other intellectual property in areas including personal computing, servers, networking, semiconductors and other computer components. In fact, IBM has been the top beneficiary of patents for many years.

Microsoft Wants Stripped-Down Windows XP to Run on OLPC’s XO Next Year

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday confirmed that a special cut-down version of Microsoft Windows XP operating system (OS) that would run on XO laptop created by OLPC non-profit organization is being developed and tested by the company. But while the company started to port its most popular OS to the XO in early 2007, the work will not be done until mid-2008.

“We are hard at work on the project here, and we are using an approach that is a little unusual for Microsoft. […] We are managing the entire process of adapting and testing an existing version of Windows for a new PC. Usually the hardware vendor does this,” said James Utzschneider, a member of marketing and communications team from Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group, in his blog.

The XO laptop from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization – which currently uses Linux operating system – is aimed at developing countries and is meant to assist education of children over there. It is important for Microsoft Corp. to enter the emerging markets with its products since in other scenario the markets will rely on competing Linux OS and Microsoft will have to invest into advertising and marketing programs to enter those markets eventually. Moreover, if the youth in those emerging countries will only have skills to operate Linux, it may be even harder for Microsoft to persuade them to pay for an OS from the software giant.

Currently Microsoft is working on a cut-down version of Windows XP for the XO machine, but the work will only be completed in mid-2008 at the earliest. But the good news is that the company plans to start field testing of the OS already in January, 2008. The actual “field trials” will allow Microsoft to collect feedback from the users as well as determine whether it can fulfill the demands at a price-point that governments purchasing the XO laptops would accept.

“Between Microsoft employees and third party contractors that we have brought into the effort, we have over 40 engineers working full-time on the port. We started the project around the beginning of the year and think it will be mid-2008 at the earliest before we could have a production-quality release. Because of this, we have not announced formal plans to support the XO yet, and we will not do so until after we start getting feedback from our first limited field trials starting in January before we make the final call,” Mr. Utzschneider said.

It is interesting to note that current hardware limitations of the XO prevent Microsoft from creating a fine port of Windows XP for the device. It is obvious that 1GB of NAND flash memory built into XO is not enough for Windows, Office and educational programs. As a result, Microsoft asked OLPC to tweak the XO so that more memory could be installed.

“The XO actually only comes with 1GB of flash, and we asked the OLPC to add a slot for an internal SD card that will provide the 2 GB of extra memory needed to run our software,” said Mr. Utzschneider.

Current OLPC XO laptop features AMD Geode LX-700 processor with 433MHz clock-speed and built-in graphics controller, 256MB of PC-2700 (DDR 333MHz) memory, 1GB NAND flash that substitutes hard disk drive, 7.5” screen with 1200x900 resolution, wireless and wired network adapters as well as integrated webcam, microphone, speakers and so on.

Asustek Unveils Graphics Card with Unprecedented Amount of Memory

Asustek Computer on Thursday unveiled the world’s first graphics card based on Nvidia’s performance mainstream graphics processing unit (GPU) with 1GB of memory. The board has chances to offer performance somewhat higher than that of currently available products of the similar category. The only question is whether the performance increase will justify the price, which is projected to be higher compared to rivals.

Asus EN8800GT/HTDP/1G graphics card, which is based on Nvidia GeForce 8800 graphics chip, features 1GB of memory as well as improved cooling system. The novelty will come with Nvidia recommended stock clock-speeds of 600MHz/1500MHz for core/stream processors and 1800MHz for 1GB of GDDR3 memory. In addition, Asus will provide its SmartDoctor tool, which will allow to clock the core and stream processor array independently and boost performance of the product by “more than 10”.

The Achilles’ heel of Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT is usually claimed to be its cooling system, which is blamed for insufficient cooling of the GPU and memory. As a result, Asus’ Glaciator Fansink may be just what the doctor ordered for the GeForce 8800 GT, a graphics card with mainstream pricing and high-end performance.

While modern games do demand more than 256MB of onboard memory from graphics accelerator, not a lot of games actually require more than 512MB of memory. For example, ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 1GB has no tangible performance advantage over ATI Radeon HD 512MB graphics board, but was priced considerably higher. The actual price of Asus EN8800GT/HDTP/1G is unclear, but if it seriously higher than that of typical Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT-based graphics boards, Asustek’s new solution may not gain popularity among enthusiasts. Nevertheless, the company is optimistic about its new product.

"From what our customers tell us, discerning gamers demand hardware that can truly unleash immersive graphics and unreal gaming performance. Our approach is to combine the most powerful GPU from Nvidia with 1GB of high speed Qimonda GDDR3 memory. We are proud to be the first manufacturer to introduce such revolutionary product,” said C.P. Wu, general manager of Asus graphics and multimedia business.

The Asus EN8800GT/HTDP/1G will be available through Asus authorized dealers in North America by the end of December.

Microsoft Windows Vista on Track for 10% Market Share by Year End

Microsoft Corp.’s latest operating system (OS) – Windows Vista – is on track to be installed into 10% of personal computers (PCs) that are currently in use by actual customers. But despite of relative popularity of Vista, the share of personal computers running Windows decreased this year by nearly 1%, whereas Apple’s Mac OS- as well as Linux-based computers increased their relative presence.

According to Net Applications, a provider of various Web tools, the share of PCs with Windows Vista installed that are used to browse the Internet increased to 9.19% in November, 2007, up more than one percent from 7.94% a month before. Consequently, the share of system equipped with Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 98 dropped to 78.37%, 2.97% and 0.76%, respectively.

But the overall market share of Microsoft Windows based PCs decreased by 0.07% in November: from 92.49% to 92.42%, whereas shares of Apple Mac OS and Linux systems increased by 0.22% to 6.80% and by 0.07% to 0.57%, respectively. In fact, Windows has lost 0.91% market share from January, whereas Mac OS X and Linux gained 0.58% and 0.22%, respectively.

The nearly 1% market share drop in about 11 month is not a catastrophe for Microsoft, which operating systems still control 92.42% of the PCs currently in use. However, the trend may continue going forward as Linux-based low-end personal computers along with cheap systems for developing countries gain market share.

But what is much more important for Microsoft than simplistic computers with limited capabilities is that Windows has lost 2.82% of the market since December, 2005, when it was used on 95.24% of systems. Meanwhile, Apple’s Mac OS increased its share by 2.45%, by gaining from 4.35% to 6.80%.

It was unclear at press time how many computer systems Net Applications tracked in November, 2007.

Dell Releases World of Warcraft Edition XPS Notebook

Dell, one of the world’s largest makers of personal computers, this week announced World of Warcraft (WoW) Edition notebook for gamers. The machine, which will retail for $4499 and upwards, promises unprecedented performance for mobile gamers thanks to pre-overclocked microprocessor, two graphics chips, physics accelerator, solid state drive and some other innovations.

The system is emblazoned with custom World of Warcraft artwork, inside and out, that leaves no question as to purpose – pure, unadulterated gaming action. The XPS M1730 features Intel Core 2 Extreme Edition processor for notebooks with up to 3.40GHz clock-speed, two Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT graphics processors in SLI mode, Ageia PhysX 100M physics processing unit, optional two hard drives with 7200rpm spindle speed, optional 64GB solid state drive, optional Blu-ray drive, 17” monitor with 1920x1200 resolution as well as other leading edge components.

The Dell XPS M1730 will be available to all U.S. customers on December 11 via Dell’s web-site.

“This truly legendary collaboration with Blizzard reinforces Dell’s commitment to design excellence and dedication to delivering the best possible gaming experience. World of Warcraft players can now have the ultimate system to reflect their passion for the game,” said Glen Robson head of XPS systems at Dell.

The World of Warcraft edition notebook sports a number of exclusive features from Dell and Blizzard, the developer of the game that has become legendary, besides visual design enhancements:

* World of Warcraft and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade pre-loaded on system, including the latest content updates;
* Original desktop background artwork and screensavers;
* A World of Warcraft-themed backpack that includes: retail box copies of World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, and the Warcraft Battle Chest , which includes with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. Latest Brady Games strategy guides for World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade, Warcraft III and The Frozen Throne, World of Warcraft DVD with a behind-the-scenes look at “The Making of WoW”;
* A special Quest Envelope that ships separately with exclusive rare items: a Golden Ticket allowing customers to receive a special custom FigurePrint based on the actual World of Warcraft character that they play; an Account Upgrade Certificate enabling the upgrade of a World of Warcraft account to receive the Collector’s Edition pets from both the original World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition and the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Collector’s Edition; a World of Warcraft Beta Club Card to enable customers to take part in upcoming public beta tests.

Microsoft Accused of Eventual Blu-Ray, HD DVD Formats Fiasco

Both Blu-ray disc (BD) and HD DVD have been available for a little less than two years now, but neither of them have become truly popular on the market. Perhaps, the reason is that high-def movies are sold for $28 instead of $15, the price of typical DVD, or because the players retail for $200, $400 or even more, but not for less than $100, like DVD. But Michael Bay, a famous director, says that the root of all problems is Microsoft Corp. and its support of HD DVD.

Michael Bay, the director of popular movie “Transformers” who criticized Paramount Pictures for turning HD DVD exclusive, accused Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest developer of software and one of the backers of HD DVD format, of supporting HD DVD in order to make both high-definition formats – Blu-ray and HD DVD – to fail eventually. In addition, Mr. Bay accused Microsoft of bribing studios hundreds of millions of dollars so that they would support HD DVD instead of Blu-ray.

“What you don’t understand is corporate politics. Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about. That is why Microsoft is handing out $100 million dollar checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu-ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads,” said Mr. Bay in “Ask Michael Bay” forum at Shoot for the Edit web-site.

Microsoft currently sells and lends movies in standard and high-definition via its Xbox Live service; just like Apple, which sells movies via its iTunes store, the most popular Internet music store, and supports Blu-ray format. Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates did say that BD and HD DVD are the last physical formats in future removable media will be substituted by streamed content as well as delivery of the content via the Internet.

“Understand that this is the last physical format there will ever be. Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk. So, in this way, it's even unclear how much this one counts,” Mr. Gates said in an interview almost two years ago. In the same interview the co-founder of Microsoft called Blu-ray copyright protection technologies as “anti-consumer”.

Earlier this year Paramount Pictures, a part of Viacom media company and a leading Hollywood studio, announced that it would not release new movies on Blu-ray discs (BDs) going forward, concentrating on exclusive support of HD DVD. Nevertheless, movies directed by Steven Spielberg will still be available on both types of new-generation DVDs, therefore, will be available for wider audience. Michael Bay’s transformers are currently only available on HD DVD.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 25GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba, NEC, Intel and Microsoft, as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Sony and Panasonic, which are among the world’s largest makers of electronics. Among Hollywood studios HD DVD is supported by New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios, whereas New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox endorse Blu-ray.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Samsung Announces GDDR5 Memory at 6GHz

Samsung Electronics, the world’s top maker of dynamic random access memory, unveiled its first GDDR5 memory chips that can work at unprecedented clock-speed. The new chips will be able to power ultra powerful graphics cards or enable currently maximum level of performance on more affordable graphics boards.

Samsung’s GDDR5, which will be introduced at a density of 512Mb (16Mb x 32) chips, is capable of transmitting data at 24GB per second, which means that the new chips can operate at 6GHz clock-speed. Nowadays the fastest GDDR4 memory chips are capable of working at about 2.50GHz.

“We’re pushing image enhancement to a limit never before realized, enabling the smoothest, clearest animation that gamers have yet to experience. Samsung’s 512Mb GDDR5 will enable the kind of graphics hardware performance that will spur software developers to deliver a new level of eye-popping games,” said Mueez Deen, marketing director, graphics memory, Samsung Semiconductor.

The new Samsung graphics memory operates at 1.5 volts, representing an approximate 20% drop in power consumption over today’s most popular graphics memory chip – the GDDR3 – that requires 1.8V voltage to operate.

Samples of Samsung’s new GDDR5 chip have been delivered to major graphic processor companies last month and mass production is expected in the first half of 2008.

Samsung expects that GDDR5 memory chips will become the de facto standard in the top performing segment of the market by capturing more than 50% of the high-end PC graphics market by 2010.

A technical paper on Samsung’s new 6Gbps graphics chip is the only one on GDDR5 technology to be selected for presentation at ISSCC 2008, the company indicated.

AMD Abandons Plans for Dual-Processor Enthusiast Platforms

Advanced Micro Devices said on Thursday it currently has no plans to develop its dual-processor (DP) platforms for enthusiast. The decision essentially cancels any efforts in regards of the well-advertised FASN8 platform and forces the world’s second largest supplier of x86 microprocessors to leave the market of the so-called extreme enthusiasts.

“[…] AMD has discontinued future planning and development of its eight-core enthusiast platform at this time. […] We will continue to support customers that have an existing Quad FX with DSDC and are also working on an upgrade path for those customers. [The upgrade path] likely won’t be a Phenom-branded product,” Ms. Suzy Pruitt, a spokeswoman for AMD, said in an interview with TechReport web-site.

Following the release of Intel Core 2 Duo and then Intel Core 2 Quad microprocessors by Intel Corp., which immediately become favorites among computer enthusiasts, AMD had to find a way to offer even higher performance. As a result, the chipmaker introduced its Quad FX platform last year with two dual-core AMD Athlon 64 FX-70-series processors to compete against Intel Core 2 Quad. Moreover, it promised that its quad-core processors will be compatible with the Quad FX platform, which would allow end-users to switch processors without changing the rest of the platform.

But Intel was not standing still and shortly after AMD unveiled its Quad FX, the world’s largest maker of x86 chips started to tout its V8 platform that employed two quad-core central processing units (CPUs). As the time went by, Intel unveiled its code-named Skulltrail platform, which is set to employ two specially designed quad-core processors that cost over $3000 alone and feature other enthusiast-relevant capabilities.

AMD did not manage to introduce its AMD Phenom processors at really high clock-speeds to compete against Intel’s products and also had to postpone the release of its higher-price faster CPUs for workstations. Moreover, the company had to delay the release of AMD Phenom FX for enthusiasts. Currently the highest-speed AMD Phenom chip with four processing engines runs at 2.30GHz and cannot be compared against Intel’s Core 2 Extreme processors.

Since the company does not have “FX” parts for performance-demanding customers, it decided to offer AMD Opteron processors and platforms to those enthusiasts, who really need speed, and who needs it badly from AMD.

“While AMD is not actively promoting AMD Opteron processor as a 2P enthusiast solution, we recognized that there are enthusiasts who are looking for two-socket solutions and think an Opteron platform is well-suited to meet that demand at this time,” Ms. Pruitt added.

Apple to Release iPhone 3G in 2008 – AT&T Executive

Apple will release 3G version of its Apple iPhone cellular phone in 2008, said chief executive of AT&T, the exclusive carrier that sells iPhone in the U.S. The new phone will allows faster Internet access, but fans of Apple and iPhone are likely to demand something else too.

“You’ll have [Apple iPhone 3G] next year,” said AT&T chief executive officer Randall Stephenson in response to a question about when the 3G iPhone would debut. He said he did not know how much more the new version will cost compared to the existing model, which sells for $399, but indicated that Apple “will dictate what the price of the phone is”, reports Bloomberg news-agency.

The ability to work with third-generation wireless networks will give Apple iPhone an opportunity to compete for customers who often use data intensive services, such as web-browsing of “data heavy” web-sites and downloading music from the Internet on the go. Currently Apple iPhone relies on much slower GPRS and EDGE networks, something, which essentially makes useless data transfer intensive functions of the device, such as Google Earth or YouTube Web applications. Currently, the lack of 3G data transfer rates is likely to trim iPhone’s popularity in Asia and Europe.

While any version of 3G network connection (EVDO, HSDPA, etc) will indisputably improve user experience with iPhone by boosting network connection speed, end-users, who already have an iPhone would probably insist on some other additional features for the device that has become a cult one for some people. Perhaps, making a cell phone that would work in Europe, Japan, the U.S. and other regions could be a goal for the next iPhone.

Officials from Apple did not comment on the news-story.

Apple iPhone combines digital media player, phone, Web browser and personal digital assistant’s features. The device is equipped with 3.5” touch-screen instead of keypad, includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless technologies. The iPhone also features a 2 megapixel (2MP) camera along with a photo management application. Apple iPhone costs $399 in the U.S. and various sums in the rest of the world.