Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Apple's iPhone

Apple CEO Steve Jobs today revealed the iPhone to a rapturous reception at the Macworld conference in San Francisco.

Jobs' two hour keynote speech, peppered with the question "isn"t that cool?" and frequently interrupted by loud applause and cheers, concentrated on the new device.

"Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone," he said. "We are going to make history today."

He poured scorn on other "smart phones" on the market, rubbishing their tiny keyboards, limited internet connectivity and clunky, slow interfaces.

In an extensive demonstration, he described how the new phone's 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen, which covers most of the iPhone's front, could interpret the user's finger gestures such as a "flick" that scrolled through contact lists, or a "pinch" that zoomed into Web pages.

As well as make calls, the iPhone plays music and movies from its 4GB flash memory, can take and view photos or browse the internet via GSM EDGE networks, or a Wi-Fi network.

The phone incorporates Google Maps and Yahoo! push email.

The iPhone will launch in June in the USA, in an exclusive partnership with the States' biggest mobile telco Cingular.

Europe will see the phone late this year and Asia and Australia in 2008.

By the end of 2008 Apple aims to have 1 per cent of the global mobile phone market, which is soon to top 1 billion phones.

In November Apple iPods made up 62 per cent of the MP3 music player market which totals 135 million units worldwide.

An Apple spokesman could not say whether Apple has yet chosen a local telco partner.

Apple also launched the "Apple TV", which was previewed in September as the "iTV".

Available worldwide, including Australia, next month, the iTV stores music and high definition video in a small white box that connects directly to the TV.

Least mentioned at all at the Macworld keynote were the Mac computers themselves. Indeed Apple Computer Inc today officially dropped the "Computers" from its name.

Jobs ignored the upcoming release of the new version of the OSX operating system, to be known as Leopard and to take the fight up against Microsoft"s upcoming Windows Vista.

But the long-rumoured iPhone, not Leopard, was the reason this Macrworld was so keenly anticipated. Rumours spread that Jobs had invited friends and family to witness this: his finest performance.

Apple-loving hordes queued outside the venue pre-dawn in single-digit temperatures, keen to catch the best seat to hear their high priest speak.

Such was the hype ahead of his announcements, that even the assembled media crammed and sprinted into the venue like shoppers at the front of the Boxing Day sales queue.

The trademark "iPhone" is actually owned by networking company Cisco. Cisco was reportedly in negotiations with Apple over the sale of the name.

Nick Miller was flown to San Francisco by Apple

iPhone specs:

US$499 for a 4GB model, US$599 for an 8GB model
GSM+EDGE phone technology (though 3G is promised "in the future")
3.5-inch touchscreen, at 160 points-per-inch resolution
11.6mm thick
2 Megapixel camera
Incorporates video iPod
Syncs music, video, contacts and internet favourites with iTunes on Windows or Mac
Gesture-controlled user interface
On-screen virtual keyboard
Random-access voicemail (via Cingular)
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
SMS "conversation" interface
Full high-resolution web browser
Google Maps
Weather and stock market "widgets"
Battery life 5 hours talk/video/web browsing, 16 hours audio only

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