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Hello, iPhone

January 10, 2007

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Consumers will finally get the chance to own an iPhone, a mobile phone that plays iTunes and surfs the Web, electronics maker Apple announced yesterday on the Macworld Expo, in San Francisco.

Company chairman Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone will be available in June and called it a “revolutionary mobile phone” that will feature an iPod, phone and what he called an “Internet communicator.”

The phone is rectangular, and the entire front surface is a touch screen. All of its functions are activated by touch, but when you bring your iPhone to your face, a proximity sensor will turn off the touchscreen so you don’t accidentally face dial.

The phone, which runs the Mac OS X, will be able to download and play both music and movies. It will come in two models: a $499 version with 4 gigabytes of memory and a $599 one with 8 gigabytes.

Cingular, a unit of AT&T, will be Apple’s sole U.S. partner. It’s an exclusive multiyear agreement, which means no other carrier will be able to sell the iPhone through 2009.

The iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device.

The Apple iPhone is a sleek, elegant looking device with a black-and-metal design. At 115 x 61 x 11.6mm, the iPhone isn’t as big as you might expect and it weights about 135 gram.

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. Apple is partnering with Yahoo Inc. on Web-based e-mail and Google Inc. on maps.

With a few finger taps, Jobs demonstrated how to pull up a Google Maps site and find the closest Starbucks to San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where Macworld is held. He then prank-called the cafe and ordered 4,000 lattes to go before quickly hanging up.

Jobs demonstrated the iPhone’s music capabilities by playing “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid,” from the Beatles‘ “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The audience cheered, spurred by speculation that an announcement was imminent about a deal to sell Beatles songs on iTunes. But there was no such announcement, and Beatles songs still cannot be legally downloaded.

After months of speculation, the news of the iPhone is finally out. It’s no wonder that after this annoucement Apple shares jumped $7.10 to close at $92.57 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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