Apple Announces iPhone, Stock Soars

Once again, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wowed the crowds like no one else can. In his 9 am keynote at MacWorld in San Francisco this morning, Jobs announced the new iPhone cell phone. From the description in appears to be a game changing device, and the public markets seem to agree. As of the time of this writing, Apple stock is up over 7% for the day. Competitor Research in Motion (Blackberry) is down over 6%, wiping $2 billion dollars in market cap off the table. Palm, maker of the Treo, is also down, nearly 6%.

The iPhone is an impressive, and expensive, device. It comes in 4 GB and 8 GB models and costs $499 and $599, respectively. It includes a 3.5 inch touchscreen with a virtual keyboard, a 2 megapixel camera, is WIFI enabled and runs OSX. Cingular is the carrier. The desktop-like interface and user experience looks to be a killer. This might actually take the mobile email revolution another full step forward from what Blackberry has done. Standard web sites can be viewed via the Safari browser (and soon, I’m sure, Firefox). And there are a number of nice touches as well, including a motion sensor that rotates photos when you turn the phone, and voicemails displayed visually that you can click on and listen to. As we all expect from Apple, this is a seriously buttoned up device.

The iPod functionality is almost a side benefit, and with the limited storage compared to the high end iPods, serious music aficionados will still want to carry their 80 GB iPods as well.

Apple also made other announcements today, including the availability of Apple TV (formerly iTV), a $299 living room device that streams iTunes content to the television. And iTunes appears to be soldiering on, with 2 billion songs and 1.3 million movies sold.

The biggest letdown is the fact that the iPhone won’t be available until June 2007 in the U.S. They have so much horsepower and untested software packed into this tiny device that the first version will almost certainly have problems – overheating, bugs, etc. That won’t stop millions from buying it as soon as it is available. And it won’t stop me, either.