Jobs unveils US$199 'iPhone 3G'

Apple sets on-sale as July 11, touts GPS, faster Net speeds, third-party apps

Neither Golvin or Gottheil expressed surprise by the details divulged today, no shock since the new iPhone was, perhaps, the year's worst-kept secret. "There are no surprises here," said Golvin. "Apple addressed all the shortcomings of the original."

July's iPhone will come in two shades for the first time: white and black, although the less-expensive 8GB model is limited to the latter.

Apple also set a general date for the release of iPhone 2.0, the major firmware update that will add significant functionality, including the ability to download and install third-party applications, to all iPhones. The upgrade, said Jobs, will be available early next month, and will add several features disclosed for the first time today, including support for documents created by both Apple's iWork suite and those generated by Microsoft 's Office applications Excel, PowerPoint and Word.

Before Jobs got to the iPhone announcement, however, much of the presentation was spent reviewing the iPhone SDK, or software developer kit, that Apple unveiled in March. That SDK, which was seeded to developers in preparation for the release of iPhone 2.0 and was downloaded a quarter of a million times, said Jobs.

"We've had over 25,000 people apply to the developer program," Jobs also announced. "Unfortunately, we couldn't take everybody." Apple admitted less than one in every six applicants -- just 4,000 -- who applied, he added.

Although SDK-armed developers include 35 per cent of the Fortune 500, not all the applications touted on stage were enterprise-centric. Sega, for instance, stepped out to demo a preliminary version of "Super Monkey Ball."

In quick succession, several vendors stepped up to demo iPhone applications that will be posted to the App Store when that debuts, also in early July. eBay, blogging client maker TypePad and Loopt, a location-aware social network, showed off free-to-download applications, while others, including Pangea Software, demonstrated for-fee software. Pangea strutted a pair of games -- Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally -- that it has ported to the iPhone and will sell for US$9.99 each.

The company also unveiled a revamped online service, pegged "MobileMe," that will replace .Mac next month. The service, which Phil Schiller, Apple's product marketing chief, touted as "Exchange for the rest of us," features two-way, real-time synchronization between Macs, Windows-powered PCs and iPhones for such information as e-mail, contacts and schedules. MobileMe, which retains .Mac's US$99 annual fee, also boasts new Web-based mail, address and calendar applications.

Existing subscribers to .Mac will automatically be upgraded to MobileMe, while new users will be able to sample the service with a 60-day free trial.

Gottheil was disappointed. "Very disappointing," he said, "because while the sync tools are kind of nice, I find it hard to believe people will pay for tools that in many cases are free elsewhere, such as from Yahoo or Google. I don't think Apple will increase its market share here."

In an aside early in the presentation, Jobs also said that Apple would discuss the next version of its Mac OS X operating system later Monday. Although he didn't provide any details, he did name the update as "Snow Leopard," which matches the rumors last week. Those same rumors pegged the upgrade as more of a stability and performance tune-up than a full-fledged update rich in new features.

"I wasn't disappointed," said Gottheil when asked of his final impression. "The stock market may be in the short term, and fans may be because there were fewer surprises than at any other time I can remember. But Apple is a business. And this is what businesses do. They identify problems and they solve them."

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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