Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs took the wraps off of the company's long-awaited "iPhone" on Tuesday, touting it as a three-in-one piece of hardware that acts as a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and an Internet communications device.
"This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years," Jobs said. "Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything."
In 1984, said Jobs, Apple introduced the Macintosh and changed the computer industry. In 2001, the company introduced the iPod and changed the entire music industry.
"Well, today we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class," Jobs said. "The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough Internet communications device."
But, he added, "these are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone."
The device, which will be sold by Apple and US mobile operator Cingular Wireless, is priced at US$499 for a 4GB model and US$599 for an 8GB model. It will be available in the US from June and requires approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Jobs said. The iPhone will not be available in Australia until 2008 and there is no localised pricing available at this time, according to Rob Small, marketing director for Apple Computer Australia.
The Apple iPhone will not be available in Australia until 2008 and no regional pricing has yet been announced.
The entire front of the quad-band GSM phone serves as the screen, Jobs told attendees at the MacWorld Expo. He also noted that the operating system behind the phone's various features is Mac OS X and said that it will sync up with a user's iTunes, plus mail, notes and bookmarks. It will also display visual voice mails.
The phone, whose screen measures 3.5 in. diagonally, plays video and includes a 2-megapixel camera. The screen offers a higher-than-normal resolution of 160 pixels per inch, Jobs said. He also said that the iPhone has a proximity sensor so that when it's held up to a user's ear during a call, the user interface is turned off.
Jobs pointed out that the phone will offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, comes with the company's Safari Web browser and displays Google maps.
The iPhone features a small "Home" button on it. It's also remarkably thin -- at less than half an inch, it's thinner than any smart phone out there, according to Jobs.
On one side, it sports a ring/silent switch and volume up-and-down controls. On its silver back is the digital camera. The bottom features a speaker, microphone and iPod dock connector.
According to Jobs, the phone offers five hours of talk/video time and 16 hours when playing music.
The announcement confirmed rumors that had been swirling around the company for months. Earlier Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal had reported that Apple would announce a cell phone with wireless service from Cingular.
But in something of a break from past keynote talks, Jobs offered no updates on the company's plans for its next operating system update. Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, is due out by midyear.
In introducing the new phone, Jobs explained that smart phones provide phone and e-mail and what he called "the baby Internet. They're not so smart and not so easy to use."
"We don't want to do these," he said. "We want to do a leapfrog product that's way smarter than these phones and much easier to use. So we're going to reinvent the phone."
The iPhone does not use a keyboard, nor does it use a stylus, as many smart phones do today. The device uses new technology, called Multitouch.
"We're going to use the best pointing device in our world," said Jobs. "We're born with 10 of them, our fingers."
Multitouch is far more accurate than any touch display, according to Jobs. It ignores unintended touches and supports multifinger gestures. "And boy, have we patented it," he added.