Jobs Unveils the Apple iPhone
SAN FRANCISCOTake that, Consumer Electronics Show. The splashy, weeklong computer trade show in Las Vegas, with its 140,000-some attendees and 1.7 million square feet of gadgets, was upstaged again this year by Steve Jobs, the wizard-king CEO of Apple, at MacWorld, the annual gathering of the Macintosh faithful being held here this week. A day after Bill Gates and Microsoft's new products received only a lukewarm reception in Vegas, Jobs, in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, introduced two jaw-dropping devices that are sure to shake up the media worlda new home-media entertainment center called Apple TV, which he said would begin shipping in February, and the much-anticipated Apple iPhone, a super-smart-phone mash-up of an iPod, a cellphone, and a mobile Internet device. The iPhone, which will cost $499, will be available beginning this June.
Jobs also announced that after 30 years in the computer industry, Apple Computer would be dropping the word "computer" from its name. The company will now be called Apple Inc.
Since the company unveiled the iPod in 2001, there has certainly been more to the inventor of the Macintosh than just desktop hardware. Rumors had circulated for months that Apple might extend itself beyond music and computing into the massive cellphone market. With good reason: While Apple sells more than 60 percent of all MP3 players, there were only 135 million of the devices sold worldwide in 2006compared with nearly a billion cellphones. Patent documents filed for a cellphone-related device were recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But Apple, true to form, stayed mum.
Until this morning, that is. In his keynote address, Jobs unveiled what he called a "revolutionary" new product. "This is a day I've been looking forward to for 2 1/2 years," Jobs said. "Today we're going to show a software breakthroughat least five years ahead of what's on any other phone." Combining a widescreen iPod, a mobile phone, and an Internet interface that makes the likes of BlackBerry and Treo look old-fashioned, the new Apple phone appears to be a quantum leap in smart-phone technology.
Instead of a plastic keypad, the phone features a 3.5-inch-wide touchscreen, which can be navigated like the desktop on a computer. With their fingers, users can point and click on the screen to navigate among making phone calls, watching videos, listening to music, checking E-mail, and surfing the Web. The phone automatically syncs with a PC, and its Wi-Fi capability allows users to share photos by shooting them directly to each other via E-mail.
The phone also features a 2-megapixel camera, but its most groundbreaking feature, aside from its clean design, is its Web browser. Instead of forcing users to wade through the truncated websites that appear on most smart phones, the iPhone features a full Safari Web browser, meaning the Internet that users see on their phones is the same Internet they see at home on their PCs. The text is small, to be sure, but zooming in is as easy as tapping twice as on the screen.
"It's the Internet in your pocket for the first time ever," Jobs said. "This is a revolution of the first order." Because the iPhone also comes with Google and Yahoo! search and Google Maps, users will be able to use the phone the same way they use PCs at hometo shop, to search, or just to find the nearest Starbucks.
In June, Apple will be selling a phone with 4 gigabytes of storage and five hours of battery life for $499; an 8-gigabyte version will cost $599. By comparison, an iPod Nano costs $199, while a BlackBerry with a two-year subscription costs $299.
Jobs also announced that the phone will be available only on the Cingular network, with which Apple has an exclusive deal. When it goes on sale this summer, it will be available at Apple and Cingular stores. Jobs said he hopes to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of next year.
News of the iPhone sent Apple's shares up more than 7 percent in afternoon trading, to over $92.