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Apple answers the call

First, it was iMac. Then iPod. Now it's iPhone as Apple keeps expanding.

Published January 10, 2007


SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday announced the iPod maker's long-awaited leap into the mobile phone business and renamed the company just Apple Inc., reflecting its increased focus on consumer electronics.

The iPhone, which will start at $499 when it launches in June, is controlled by touch, plays music, surfs the Internet and runs the Macintosh computer operating system. Jobs said it will "reinvent" wireless communications and "leapfrog" past the current generation of smart phones.

"Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything," he said during his keynote address at the annual Macworld Conference and Expo. "It's very fortunate if you can work on just one of these in your career. ... Apple's been very fortunate in that it's introduced a few of these."

Jobs also unveiled a TV set-top box that allows sending video from computers and announced iTunes Music Store has topped 2-billion songs sold.

Apple shares jumped $7.10 to close at $92.57 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $50.16 to $93.16.

While Jobs noted the explosive growth of the cell phone market, it's not clear iPhone poses a threat to major handset makers due to its price, said Avi Greengart, mobile device analyst for research firm Current Analysis.

"My initial reaction is that this product actually lives up to the extensive hype, and I'm not easily impressed," he said. "But the vast majority of phones sold cost way less than $500." Those most likely to face competition from iPhone are makers of higher-end smart phones such as Palm Inc.

'It's just like an iPod'

iPhone comes with a built-in 2-megapixel digital camera, as well as headphone and SIM card slots.

The phone automatically synchs the user's media - movies, music, photos - through iTunes on computers running either Mac OS X or Microsoft Corp.'s Windows. The device also synchs e-mail, Web bookmarks and nearly any type of digital content stored on a PC.

"It's just like an iPod," Jobs said, "charge and synch."

To call, users can tap out the number on an on-screen keypad or scroll through their contacts and dial with a single touch.

Apple also is introducing "visual voice mail," so users can jump to the most important messages rather than have to listen to all of them in order.

The phone supports wi-fi and Bluetooth wireless technology and can detect location from Global Positioning System satellites. It also can send and display e-mail and text messages.

Also, Jobs said Apple will begin taking orders right away for the $299 video box called Apple TV.

The gadget bridges computers and television sets so users can more easily watch downloaded movies on a big screen. Jobs displayed a prototype in September when Apple announced it would sell TV shows and movies through iTunes.

Apple TV will come with a 40-gigabyte hard drive that stores up to 50 hours of video. It features an Intel Corp. microprocessor and can handle videos, photos and music streamed from up to five computers within wireless range.

[Last modified January 9, 2007, 23:31:08]

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