09 June, 2009

Apple unveils new iPhone without Steve Jobs

Posted: 09 June 2009 0758 hrs

Apple kicked off their annual WWDC with announcements of the new iPhone 3Gs.

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple made hot-selling iPhones even more appealing on Monday, premiering a speedier new model complete with a video camera and slashing the price of its predecessor to 99 dollars.

Apple vice president of marketing Phil Schiller made the announcements at an annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco bereft of any sign of the firm's renowned chief executive, Steve Jobs.

Schiller said the new iPhone 3GS, the first model to capture video, will be available on June 19.

"The 'S' stands for speed, because this is the most powerful iPhone we've ever made," Schiller said. "What is inside is entirely new."

He said a 16-gigabyte iPhone 3GS would cost 199 dollars while the 32-gigabyte model would cost 299 dollars.

He said the price of an original eight-gigabyte iPhone 3G dropped to 99 dollars from 199 dollars as of Monday.

Schiller also said a next-generation iPhone 3.0 operating system will be released worldwide on June 17 as a free upgrade to owners of the smartphones.

Senior vice president of iPhone software Scott Forstall said meanwhile that sales of applications for the smartphones had passed a billion in April.

Apple also reported it has sold more than 40 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices, which are essentially iPhones without mobile phone capabilities.

Enhancements crafted into the iPhone 3.0 operating system include downloading rented videos and customization to additional languages including Arabic, Hebrew, and Korean.

A new "Find My iPhone" feature lets people use an Apple online Mobile Me service to locate lost or stolen devices.

"It will show you on a map where your phone is," Forstall said. "You can send it a message and it plays an alert sound whether or not you left it in silent mode."

The feature also lets people remotely erase all data from lost or stolen iPhones, then reload the information using iTunes if they are reacquainted with their devices.

The new operating system also lets iPhones connect to one another wirelessly for communal activities such as playing games.

"The iPhone has just blown everybody away," said analyst Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computer research at Gartner.

Dulaney noted that Apple and AT&T, exclusive provider of iPhone service in the United States, made no mention of reducing service plan prices that "are a challenge for people."

Also missing was an upgrade that would enable iPhones to run several applications simultaneously, a feature analysts say is needed by businesses and would match a capability of market new-comer Palm Pre.

Apple hit a disappointing note with an otherwise enthusiastic audience when it announced that its new Snow Leopard computer operating system would not be available until September.

People using the previous generation software will only have to pay 29 dollars to upgrade.

A "near-final" version is being given to developers at the conference so they can begin tailoring programs for the system.

"We've built on the success of Leopard and created an even better experience for our users from installation to shutdown," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple senior vice president of software engineering.

"Apple engineers have made hundreds of improvements so with Snow Leopard your system is going to feel faster, more responsive and even more reliable than before."

Snow Leopard lets users spell with Chinese characters on MacBook touchpads and includes a new version of Apple's web browser, Safari.

Safari software made available Monday is "multiples" times faster than Microsoft's latest Internet Explorer 8 Web browser, according to Apple.

Apple on Monday also launched upgraded MacBooks while cutting prices on its historically high-end laptop line.

New MacBook models feature slots for SD memory cards commonly used in digital cameras and more environmentally friendly lithium batteries promising to last as long as seven hours before needing charging.

Improved MacBooks could also be customized with beefier processors and as much as 500 gigabytes of storage space. Prices on the enhanced MacBook line range from 1,199 to 2,299 dollars.

Approximately 5,200 software developers from more than 50 countries registered to attend the sold-out conference, according to Apple.

The presentation featured humor and barbs aimed at rival Microsoft, but no sign of 54-year-old Jobs, who has been on a medical leave of absence since January.

Apple has been notoriously secretive about Jobs's health since he underwent an operation in 2004 for pancreatic cancer but has been adamant that he is returning to the company's helm at the end of this month.

- AFP /ls

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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