The iPhone just got a lot cheaper - and a lot stronger
The one-two punch comes a day after Palm launched its eagerly anticipated Pre, which analysts estimate sold between 50,000 to 60,000 units in its opening weekend.
$99 is considered a magic price point and could double demand for the iPhone. It also could move the company into a neck and neck race with Research in Motion for the second place spot in worldwide Smartphone sales within the next year. (Nokia remains far and away the segment leader.)
Apple claims the iPhone 3GS is two- to three-times faster than existing models. The 32GB model will sell for $299, while a 16GB model will go for $199.
The 3GS will come equipped with an improved 3-megapixel auto focus camera, which will also capture video. (Cameras in current iPhones are 2-megapixel and can only snap pictures.) Apple also touted better battery life for the iPhone, saying the device could support up to five hours of 3G talk time and up to 9 hours of WiFi internet usage.
Just as important was the announcement of the next generation operating system for the iPhone. OS 3.0, as it’s called, will allow users to cut and paste text between applications, rent and purchase movies directly from the iPhone and send pictures via text messaging. (Currently, photos can only be sent via email.)
Unfortunately, U.S. customers will have to wait a bit before they can send pictures via text messages. AT&T, which has an exclusive relationship with Apple here, will not offer the service for several months.
Existing iPhone owners will be able to upgrade to the new operating system for free when it becomes available on June 17. iPod Touch owners will have to pay $9.95.
The new operating system will allow developers to use the iPhone in new ways. Among the apps displayed at today’s Worldwide Developer Conference was a voice-based, turn-by-turn GPS application from TomTom, a leading manufacturer of GPS devices for the car.
Another application showed the advantages of the software upgrade’s “push” technology – which allows data to be streamed to the iPhone. Airstrip Technologies showed an intriguing app, which would allow doctors to remotely monitor a patient’s test results and view his or her real time vital signs.
It’s not hard to envision applications using this technology at the studio level, making the iPhone an even more critical component of day-to-day life in Hollywood.
Apple also unveiled a feature of 3.0 that’s bound to make every forgetful iPhone owner ecstatic. Lose or misplace your phone? By logging into the company’s MobileMe service, you can see exactly where the iPhone is hiding. And if it’s in your house, buried under a cushion somewhere, you can use MobileMe to enable an alert tone to help you locate it.
Best of all, if your iPhone was stolen, the service will allow you to wipe all of your data from the phone remotely – so you don’t have to worry about your clients, partners and friends getting calls from strangers.