Liveblogging Steve Jobs' Keynote: New $199 3G iPhone

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 09, 2008

Wireless gods permitting, I’ll be liveblogging Steve Jobs’ keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference from Moscone Center in San Francisco, along with about a gazillion other press. It begins shortly, as the assembled throng bobs slightly to early rock and rockabilly music. The place will indeed be rockin’ in a few minutes….

It’s 10 a.m., the appointed hour, and the anticipation is thick. For me, too. Since I don’t normally cover Apple and I’m subbing for our usual Apple corps, I haven’t seen a Jobs keynote since… well, I’m not going to tell you, since it would date me horribly.

I will update the post from the bottom (unlike many blogs), so skip to the bottom if you reload to get the latest. The rest is after the jump….

UPDATE: Just to sum up all the keynote below, here’s the basics: Apple’s introducing a new iPhone with 8 GB memory for $199 that will run on the much faster 3G cellular network. A 16 GB version will sell for $299 and come in white as well. The iPhone 3G will be available in 22 countries on July 11, with more countries to come later. Or as Apple’s iPhone page now says: Twice as fast. Half the price. (My colleague Arik Hesseldahl also wrote a story, with more analysis than I could muster on the spot.)

BTW, please chime in with questions about the new iPhone. Here are a few I have, but I’d welcome yours, since I’m betting readers know what else they want that they didn’t get this time:

* Why no other carriers besides AT&T in the U.S.? Please, Verizon?

* Who’s subsidizing that $199 price? No doubt it’s the carriers, but Jobs didn’t say anything about that.

* Why no overt comparison to the Blackberry? Seems like Apple’s aiming high, at the business hipster, more than the Crackberry corporate drones.

* What about real business apps, like Salesforce.com (a natural) or even Oracle and SAP? Now, those are enterprise.

* What happened to the improved camera, and even videocam capability, that had been widely rumored?

And at 10:06 a.m., Jobs takes the stage. You know what he's wearing, right? Jobs talking about all the activity at the conference this week.

So, he says, let's get started. He describes Apple for people who have been living in a cave--Mac, iPod, iPhone. iPhone will rule this morning.

Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller are going to help out. Then Bertrand Serlet will after lunch talk about the next OS, Snow Leopard. Cheers ripple through the crowd.

He says there have been 25,000 applicants to the iPhone 2.0 software platform, and accepted 4,000 into the beta. Three main focuses of the platform. First up:

Enterprise: He says they've hooked up the iPhone to Microsoft Exchange. And he adds that 35% of the Fortune 500 have participated in the beta developer program. He shows a video of various partipants, from the U.S. military to Disney (big surprise), which says it has 2,000 people on the iPhone now.

10:15: Next up is the SDK, with Scott Forstall: "We're opening up the same native APIs and tools that we use internally." So developers can build applications the same way Apple does. It will use the exact same kernel, or basic code, that Apple uses for Mac's operating system, OS10. It also has basic core service like location, as well as media code, and "Cocoa Touch," that is supposed to make it easy to develop apps for the touch interface.

10:20 a.m.: He's building a sample application. I'm no developer, so some of this is going over my head, but the interface builder he's using makes it look easy to change the interface by dragging and dropping various functions. "This is how easy it is to build applications for the iPhone." He shows quotes from a Disney guy, someone from Fox Interactive Media, and Infoworld, praising how easy it is. OK, got the point.

10:27: A number of developers are going to do demos. Ethan Einhorn from Sega shows SuperMonkeyBall on the iPhone, which was first shown in March. This is the game that uses the iPhone's accelerometer to play the game and control the tilt in the game simply by moving the device around. This game will sell for $9.99 at the launch of the iPhone apps store.

10:30: Next up is Ken Sun of eBay, showing how to participate in auctions on the online marketplace. One touch to add auctions to one's eBay watchlist. Also easy to place a bid.

10:34: Next up is Sam Altman of loopt, a "social mapping" service that helps you find friends who happen to be nearby. "We've developed for every mobile platform. This is the best."

10:36: Michael Sippey of blogging service TypePad is up next: Very simple interface to post a text item or a photo, or take a photo and then post it. If this works as well as it appears, I definitely want an iPhone just to do this.

10:39: Benjamin Moss of the Associated Press now talks about the iPhone as a catalyst for a "mobile news network." Location awareness makes it easy to get automatic news stories and updates from your area. There's also video. And you can upload text or photos to AP. He says this application was built in just a few weeks because the iPhone platform made it easy.

10:41: Pangea Software, a longtime Apple game developer, is up next. Brian Greenstone shows two games the company ported over to the iPhone from the Mac, including Enigmo, a puzzle game, and CroMag Rally, a racing game.

10:45: Now comes an application from Mark Terry, an insurance-industry developer from England who shows a music app he did in his spare time, which includes a virtual piano, a virtual drum set, and a whole blues interface, all by tapping it out on the iPhone. Big cheers.

10:48: Now it's MLB.com, with developer Jeremy Schoenherr. New iPhone-exclusive app that lets you see scores, constantly updated, as well as real-time video highlights.

10:51: Next is S. Mark Williams of Modality, whose iPhone medical app will provide hundreds of anatomical images, to which they can zoom in and pan. Within weeks, Modality hopes to have a dozen apps in the iPhone store.

10:54: Mark Cain of MIMvista comes on with a medical imaging app. He shows a CT scan and a PET scan, which can be overlaid on each other and viewed from the bottom, side, or front--so doctors can view this anywhere, "even on the golf course." You can scroll through slices with a touch. Looks nifty.

10:57: Last application is from Digital Legends Entertainment, a game developer in Barcelona. Xavier Carrillo Costa shows Frog, an action/adventure game.

Lots of cheers now; The crowd is getting antsy for the main event, which is supposed to be the new 3G iPhone. Forstall, however, has more to talk about. He sets this up by trashing companies--he shows Samsung--that allow apps that run background applications after you think you've stopped an app. Forstall says this eats up battery life and slows performance.

So Apple instead is providing a push notification service for developers, which allows them to send various types of alerts after the application is no longer hooked up to the network. He says this scales better because there's only one persistent connection needed.
This works over WiFi and cellular. It will be available in September.

11:04: OK, he's done. Steve's back up. He describes new features such as contact search;, full iWork document support, including Microsoft Office documents; bulk delete and move; ability to save images from emails to your library; a scientific calculator; parental controls; and a lot of new languages.

"We think the iPhone 2.0 software is going to be phenomenal." Apple will release it in early July, a free software update for all iPhone owners and $9.95 for Touch owners.

Users will be able to wirelessly download all these apps, along with automatic updates. Developers keep 70% of revenues from apps sold through apps store. App store will now be available in 62 countries.
"We think there's never been anything like it to get apps from developers to users."

Now he's talking about how enterprises can authorize applications for iPhones. They can distribute the apps on their own intranet, syncing them to the iPhone through iTunes. (iTunes? Hmm, seems a bit strange to use iTunes for this.)

"Now we've got something entirely new." Jobs introduces mobileme, which Phil Schiller calls "Exchange for the rest of us." It will provide push email, contacts, and calendars to the iPhone, via me.com. It stores your info in the cloud, so you can get this stuff from a Mac or an iPhone.

Schiller starts a demo of mobileme: He shows how email works, provides a look at the address book, and shows how the calendar works. It's all a Web interface, but it's shockingly fast. He keeps going back and forth from a Mac to an iPhone, and everything seems to sync almost instantly. (Maybe it goes without saying for an Apple keynote, but everything they're showing works perfectly, unlike every other demo conference I've attended. It just doesn't get any slicker than this. As if you couldn't tell from the cheers from the adoring crowd.)

Mobileme will cost $99 a year, with 20 GB of storage. Apple will offer a 60-day free trial, starting in early July. BTW, mobileme replaces the long-running .Mac service. Stuff stored there can be synced to mobileme.

11:28: Jobs is back, talking about the iPhone. He talks about the first year closing out in a few weeks. "It's widely believed that this is the phone that has changed phones forever." Lots of cheers at that. "Users love their iPhones. 90% customer satisfaction. 98% are browsing. 94% are using email. 90% are using text messaging." 80% are using 10 features or more."

Jobs says 6 million iPhones have sold until Apple stopped sales a few weeks ago.

He enumerates challenges: 3G network, enterprise support, third-party apps, and selling in more countries. And last but not least, more affordable. 56% of people who didn't buy one say it's too expensive. "So.... today we're introducing the iPhone 3G." Many cheers.

Features: thinner, a little curved on the back. "Dramatically better audio."

First, the particulars of the faster 3G capability: The faster network is especially crucial for Web access email attachments. Does a race: 21 seconds to get to a Web page on 3G, 59 seconds on the current EDGE network. More cheers. That's 2.8 times faster.

Then he compares to WiFi, which takes 17 seconds--only a little less than on 3G. He also claims the 3G is 36% faster than on Nokia and Treo, and for a full Web page, not a funky mobile version.

Now a race on email attachments: 5 seconds for 3G, again about three times faster than EDGE.

Now 300 hours of standby, 10 hours of 2G talk time, 5 hours of 3G talk time, a couple hours more than rivals. 5-6 hours of browsing. 7 hours of video. 24 hours of audio.

He also announced GPS capability--this gets the loudest cheers.

So far, all of this is completely expected from the news reports beforehand. But this wouldn't be a Steve Jobs keynote without "one more thing," so I expect more shortly. (Maybe it has been far too long since I've seen Jobs speak in person. But he seems a little laid-back, even tired? (Update: I see now that other people noticed, too, and commented on how thin he looked.) But the partisan crowd doesn't seem to notice. As Jobs shows the new countries where the iPhone will be sold--70 in all--the song "It's a Small World" plays and people are singing along, for pete's sake.)

OK, now the real deal: price. The iPhone 3G will sell for $199 for an 8 GB version, down from $399. "We think the iPhone 3G will be affordable for everyone." Also will have a white version of course), with 16 GB memory, for $299.

Will roll out the iPhone 3G on July 11 in 22 countries--all for $199.

Jobs doesn't say how Apple got to that price, but it appears that there has to be some subsidy from the carriers. (Update: Yup, that's it. Though as some people have pointed out, the AT&T data plan costs $10 more a month, or $30, and since you do have to sign a two-year contract when you buy the new iPhone, that's $240 more over two years--more than the price cut. Of course, you're also getting a much faster connection anywhere you can access a 3G network.)

He shows the new ad for it, to many cheers. Jobs likes it so much, he rolls it again. More cheers.

11:49: And that's a wrap. No new Mac and certainly no tablet, as some rumors had suggested. But nobody here seems disappointed. And perhaps for good reason. It's hard to imagine a $199 iPhone that's much faster than the current one won't be a big hit. That's doubly likely if it gains any kind of traction in corporations, as Apple is clearly trying to make happen.

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Reader Comments

Aggie

June 20, 2008 06:49 PM

It's disheartning to know that just 6 months ago I got a great gadget - Makes me feel like a fool since people who don't have one are saying "there's a faster and cheaper version coming out". It will only be a "hit" with those who have not yet purchased one. If the 2.0 download can give us the 3g speed than those of us who already own one will not feel like we made a mistake buying one in the first place.

stevenyoung

September 20, 2008 10:55 AM

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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