It’s the news tech-heads have been waiting for: Apple’s new iPhone – a faster, cheaper alternative to the BlackBerry, boasting 3G support and more features for business users – will finally be released in Australia on 11 July.
The Australian response to the announcement has been swift, with Optus customers reporting difficulty registering to pre-order an iPhone. According to an email from Optus technical support posted on www. overclockers.com.au, the Optus site experienced difficulties because of a “huge flood of interest” in pre-orders.
The phone will come in an 8Gb version for $US199, and a 16Gb version for $US299, although it has not been announced how much the phone will sell for in Australia. And while Optus and Vodafone have announced they will they carry the iPhone, a question mark remains over whether Telstra will also offer the hot gadget.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the new iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, emphasising the phone’s 3G compatibility for faster downloads and built-in GPS support. “We’ve learned so much with the first iPhone,” Jobs said. “We’ve taken what we’ve learned and more, and created the phone 3G; and it’s beautiful.”
In a move aimed at replacing the BlackBerry, Jobs emphasised the phone’s use of MobileMe, an internet service allowing users to “push” email to PCs and Microsoft Exchange servers, removing the need for a manual email check and keeping separate devices automatically in sync.
Apple worked with Cisco Systems to specifically aid businesses in the use of VPN software, Jobs said. “Everything they told us they wanted we have built right into iPhone 2.0 software right out of the box.”
The new phone also boasts GPS and VPN support, mobile blogging software and, according to Jobs, is 36% faster than Nokia’s smartphone, the N95.
But shareholders weren’t completely satisfied following the announcement, with Apple’s market value dropping 4%, possibly due to low expectations for the phone’s overall contribution to Apple sales.
Steven Hartley, analyst for telecoms consulting firm Ovum, said while last year’s iPhone didn’t make much of a hit in the phone market, the new version should see more market competition with both Nokia and BlackBerry.
“We feel that this time the potential for disruption is greater than before… Apple’s marketing strength has allowed it to consistently punch above its market share weight,” he said.
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