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Apple's Phil Schiller addresses 16GB iPhones, single-USB MacBooks, and thinness vs. battery life

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On the sidelines of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, marketing SVP Phil Schiller has spoken to Daring Fireball's John Gruber for a live episode of his The Talk Show podcast. The full interview hasn't been posted yet, but it'll be worth checking out for Apple fans when it is — Gruber asked Schiller about a few things that have become hot topics among the company's community of users and developers.

Gruber suggested that Apple's iOS devices should come with more storage capacity at the low end; the entry-level iPhone has included just 16GB ever since the 3GS in 2010, which is becoming increasingly hard to justify in an age of multi-gigabyte app downloads and high-resolution video recording. But Schiller argued that cloud storage is picking up the slack. "The belief is more and more as we use iCloud services for documents and our photos and videos and music," he said, "that perhaps the most price-conscious customers are able to live in an environment where they don't need gobs of local storage because these services are lightening the load."

"I think we've made great choices there."

Schiller said that cost savings on storage could go into improving other features such as the camera, but the answer isn't altogether satisfactory — cloud services just aren't a full replacement for local files in many situations, and don't "lighten the load" at all for app downloads. Many users even found it difficult to upgrade to iOS 8 last year for this reason. And by restricting storage on the lower end, Apple can boost its margins by pushing more people to spring an extra $100 for the 64GB model.

Gruber also asked about the issue of battery life and how it relates to Apple's endless quest to create ultra-thin products. The theory goes that the iPhone is "thin enough" for improvements in that regard to be of questionable value, so by maintaining the thickness of the phone Apple could get a useful increase in battery life by taking advantage of more power-efficient internals. But Schiller disagreed, saying that Apple has hit the right balance.

"If you want a product that's thicker with a bigger battery it's also heavier, more costly, takes longer to charge," he said. "We model every thickness, every size, every weight and try to figure out what the tradeoffs are. I think we've made great choices there."

"I want an Apple that's bold and taking risks and being aggressive."

That's an argument Schiller echoed when talking about the new MacBook, which is very thin and has just a single USB-C port. "Be careful what you ask for," he told Gruber. "If all we do is an incremental, slight change, where's the excitement? We need to take risks." Schiller acknowledged that the MacBook won't be right for everyone, but believes Apple needs to actually release forward-thinking products in order to push the world into the future — in this case, a future where we don't need to plug things into laptops. "That's the Apple I want — I want an Apple that's bold and taking risks and being aggressive."

The full interview should be posted on Daring Fireball soon.

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