TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Curious Gadget Fans Smash, Dissect iPhones

Curious Gadget Fans Smash, Dissect iPhones

Scott Hillis, Reuters (
Tue, 03 Jul 2007 12:25:51 -0500

It took Apple Inc. more than six months to build the iPhone but
curious gadget fanatics needed only minutes to tear one apart.

Within hours of the first iPhones going on sale on Friday, enthusiasts
scrambled to be the first to discover what makes the devices tick,
posting photos and videos of disassembled phones on the Internet.

The information is more than just academic. Apple keeps a tight grip
on information about parts suppliers so "tear downs" of its products
are closely watched by investors keen to figure out how to place their

In the past, word that a particular part was being used in Apple's
popular iPod music players has sent that company's shares higher.

"With every new release of an Apple product, the hype and interest
ratchets up a notch," said Andrew Rassweiler, an analyst with market
research firm iSuppli.

Rassweiler and his team at iSuppli were working through the weekend to
catalog the phone's guts for a report estimating the cost of every
component, crucial for figuring how much it cost Apple to make each

"We have had more people thrown at it this week than any other
previous product," Rassweiler said.

Apple is offering the phone in two versions costing $500 and $600
depending on memory capacity, but the high price and limited
availability wasn't enough to stop some people from giving into

Some dissected the phones with the clinical skill of a surgeon while
others resorted to brute force, enraging those swept up in the hype
and winning praise from those gleefully resisting it.

By Sunday afternoon, a video on YouTube showing two guys banging away
at an iPhone with a hammer and nail had garnered 56,000 views and was
the 13th most-watched clip on the site, prompting some extremely angry
comments. Watching the clip, it is difficult to see what was learned
from the destruction.

The creator, whose user page identified him only as Rob in Miami,
Florida, posted a second clip defending his unorthodox methods.

"We didn't smash it just to smash it. We smashed it to see what was
inside. We were under a time limit," Rob said. "We resorted to extreme
measures." an Apple parts and repair guide site, conducted one
of the most sophisticated dismantlings, posting dozens of high-quality
photos alongside technical commentary.

"They've done some things that are above and beyond. They did some
very innovative things," site cofounder Kyle Wiens said of the
iPhone's manufacture.

Their efforts yielded a few nuggets of information. The iPhone boasts
a main processor and memory chips from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.,
an audio-processing chip from Britain's Wolfson Microelectronics Plc
and a Wi-fi wireless chip from Marvell Technology Group Ltd.

Opening the iPhone was the easy part. For many, the real prize is
hacking the phone to get it to do things Apple never intended, such as
run on networks other than that of AT&T Inc., the exclusive
U.S. service provider.

Some programmers also want to find a way to run their own programs
directly on the phone's operating system rather than being limited to
programs run through the Web browser.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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