PAUL SAKUMA / AP
Steve Jobs holds up the iPhone during at Macworld.
After so much anticipation, and very little information leaking beforehand, Apple's iPhone was unveiled this morning at Macworld in San Francisco.
What is surprising is that this is not just any regular phone with iTunes. The phone is also a high-end computing device, similar to the current smartphones on the market. It browses the Web, syncs with calendars and e-mail, and will be a music player.
John Jackson, vice president and senior analyst with M:Metrics said:
The decision to design the iPhone with a smartphone orientation was a very wise, yet unexpected move that puts Apple squarely against Microsoft and the Nokia N-series.
Whereas the expected profusion of music-centric devices would dilute the value of an iPod-like phone, the demand for smartphones is steadily growing, and now Mac enthusiasts can finally get their hands on the seminal Apple mobile device.
The iPhone has a big 3.5-inch display and a touch screen that you control with your finger. It has a number of nifty features such as Visual Voicemail, which lets users look at a list of their voicemails and decide which ones to list to first. It also has a full "soft" keyboard meaning that the keys show up on the display.
It uses Cover Flow, a way to browse through a music library by album art. A couple of the high-tech options include an "accelerometer," which detects when the user has rotated the device from portrait to landscape and then automatically changes the image on the display accordingly. It also has a "proximity sensor" that detects when you lift the phone to your ear, so that the display turns off to save power and prevent inadvertent hangups.
Also, some of the refreshing aspects of the device is that Apple will allow it to work with both Macs and PCs. It supports e-mail services such as Microsoft Exchange, Apple .Mac Mail, AOL, Google and most ISP services. The calendar and contacts will also sync with both PCs and Macs. The iPhone will run on the Cingular Wireless network.
But as a critic, I offer this: Apple has a long way to go. According to M:Metrics, 2 million people in the U.S. have a Windows Mobile device, 670,000 have a Symbian (most likely a Nokia) device, 1.7 million have a Palm, and 1.8 million have Blackberry devices. Granted, those figures start to sound like peanuts when you consider that Apple sold more than 14 million iPods during the last three months of 2005.
Here's some of the nitty gritty: The iPhone will run on Cingular's nationwide EDGE network, which is not as fast as the 3G networks rolling out today. It will also come with Wi-Fi, and the 4 gigabyte model will sell for $500 and the 8 gigabyte model will sell for $600. Voice and data plans will be announced when the phone starts shipping in June.