Apple Lifts the Curtain of New iPhone

Photograph of Apples latest smartphone.  (Credit:  Apple Inc.)
Photograph of Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 3G S. (Credit: Apple Inc.)

After much speculation on the Internet over a new iPhone and the possible appearance of Steve Jobs at at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the waiting is now over.

No, Steve Jobs was not present at the event nor his name was even mentioned by his people and yes, a new iPhone was announced as expected.  Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, was not present, as some commentators had expected. Mr. Jobs is on a six-month medical leave and is not expected to return until later this month.

Apple offered its loyal fans their periodic supply of catnip on Monday with a new version of the iPhone, called the iPhone 3G S. The S stands for speed, and upgraded internal components will allow the device to run more than twice as fast as the previous model, according to Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide product marketing.

Mr. Schiller delivered much of the keynote presentation at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, a meeting of Apple software makers that will last through Friday.

With co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs absent until his medical leave is over at the end of June, Apple’s biggest unveiling at its annual conference for software developers was a new model of the iPhone, the 3G S. It looks the same but sports a faster processor, longer battery life, an internal compass, a video camera and a photo camera with better resolution and auto-focus.

A 16-gigabyte version of the 3G S will cost $199 and a 32-gigabyte version will be $299.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G, which came out last year, now costs $99, instead of $199. When the iPhone debuted two years ago, eager Apple fans had to shell out $499 for a 4-gigabyte version and $599 for 8 gigs.

The low cost entry-level iPhone for $99, could make the iPhone accessible to cost-conscious consumers and undercut competitors like Palm. Palm’s new smartphone, the Pre, which went on sale Saturday, costs $199 after a mail-in rebate. Sprint, which is selling the Pre exclusively, offers a two-year service contract that is cheaper than the one AT&T offers for the iPhone.

The phone, available next week—June 19— in the United States and some other countries, comes with a 3-megapixel camera compared to the current iPhone 3G’s 2 megapixels.  It can shoot video at 30 frames per second at VGA (640×480) resolution, matching competing phones and addressing a shortcoming of the current phones.

The iPhone 3G S also includes still camera upgrades for the photography crowd—and it should be noted that the iPhone rivals SLRs for activity on Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing site, outpacing all mobile phones and all but one actual camera.

Apple also used the industry gathering to announce new features and price cuts on its MacBook Pro line of laptops. All new MacBook Pros will feature up to seven hours of battery life—a 40 percent increase from the last version, because of the new  lithium-ion batteries Apple is using.

The new batteries are sealed into the laptops, as opposed to the removable batteries that have been in previous MacBooks. Apple is saying the power units can be recharged up to 1,000 times—up to three times as much as other batteries. New MacBook Pros will also feature an SD memory-card slot for simpler photo transfers.

The new, lower prices suggest the company is taking aim at recession-wary consumers and is willing to sacrifice at least some profit to increase its share of the market for personal computers.

Industry analyst Michael Gartenberg, with the Interpret market-research firm, said the new iPhone pricing breaks through an important barrier for consumers. It will likely cause other smart phone makers to offer something similar, he said.

Very good news from Apple and… Good Day!

Related reading: Apple drops entry iPhone to $99, unveils new model – Yahoo!.tech

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