Monday, June 30, 2008

Mystic INDIA

The new iPhone is calling

Mark your calendars. On July 11, Apple’s new 3G iPhone hits stores worldwide. (Well 22 countries at first, 70 by the end of the year.) If you believe the hype, this could be the device which really kicks open the door to Internet mobility.

For those of you who missed the highlights, the phone, which was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, will be thinner, faster, and perhaps most importantly cheaper. Two hundred dollars cheaper!

During the presentation in San Francisco, Jobs admitted the first generation iPhone was too expensive for some customers. He said that about half of the customers who wanted an iPhone but hadn’t bought one said it was due to the high price. That has certainly been the case for me.

As a result, the new phones will sell for $199 dollars for an 8-gigabyte model, $299 for a 16-gigabyte model. (one note - in some cases the monthly service may be higher.)

Some say the price cut is a sign that iPhone sales have been disappointing. Maybe. But I give Apple credit for acknowledging it got it wrong and acting quickly to fix the problem.

The other major development is from the developers. Jobs and other Apple executives showed off some of the third-party applications that will be available in the iPhone software store on iTunes.

There was a blogging platform called Typepad, a friend finder social network called Loopt, medical apps, games … to name just a few. Many of the demos were met with applause from the audience, according to the bloggers who were streaming live from the event.

The other major announcement is that the Apple is now taking direct aim at Blackberry’s strangle-hold on the corporate market. The new iPhone will have push e-mail, contacts and calendars.

Jobs says 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies have participated in beta testing. This confirms what I blogged about a few weeks ago. Research firm, Yankee group and others have been saying that corporate IT departments are starting to take a serious look at Apple. If Apple is now reaching out to them and making inroads, this could be a lucrative new area for the company.

Interestingly, the reaction on Wall Street was very tepid. Apple’s stock dropped 2 percent. Some are worried the cheaper price will hurt profitability. Others are skeptical that Apple can take on Blackberry.

I don’t share their pessimism. Yes, there may be some who early iPhone buyers who may feel they overpaid now that the price has been slashed. And we have to see how all these new third-party applications actually work.

But the faster more powerful connection and the innovative programs being developed offer huge promise. I held off on buying one the first round, but at $199 my willpower is fading. Apple says it expects to sell 10 million this year. Are you biting?

Posted by: CNN business anchor, Maggie Lake