Friday, June 29, 2007

Today at 6:00 PM


You will finally be able to buy two-(2)-only iPhones. If you still want one, need one and cannot function in society without this accessory. The round-up starts with the AP report from San Francisco.

By early evening Thursday, short lines of eager customers were camped out at Apple and AT&T stores across the nation. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser, will go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. Friday in each time zone.

At Apple's flagship store in New York City, the trickle of customers that began queuing up since Monday grew to about 50 people late Thursday, ready to brave yet another rainy night on the pavement of Fifth Avenue, outside the only 24-hour Apple store.

The gadget with a 3.5-inch touch-screen display, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs has touted as "revolutionary," has been the focus of endless anticipatory chatter and has been parodied on late-night TV. Since its unveiling in January, expectations that it will become yet another blockbuster product for Apple has propelled the company's stock up more than 40 percent.

Apple itself has set a target of selling 10 million units worldwide by 2008, gaining roughly a 1 percent share of the cell phone market.

And despite the handset's price tag of $499 for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte version, on top of a minimum $59.99-a-month two-year service plan with AT&T Inc., the phone's exclusive carrier, some bullish Wall Street analysts have predicted sales could hit as high as 45 million units in two years.

Apple has not disclosed how many iPhones will available at launch. But analysts expect it will sell out by early next week -- between sales rung up at retail stores and online through Apple's Web site, which has been a major distribution outlet for other Apple products.

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that if you work for Apple you don't have to stand in line but you will have to wait...

At the end of July, the company will be handing out the 8-gigabyte version of its new handset to all of its full-time U.S. employees, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said. Everyone from the executives and engineers who work in Apple's headquarters in Cupertino to the employees of its retail stores will be getting one, which will cost other users $599, Dowling said.

Dowling didn't know how many employees will be receiving iPhones, but at the end of its last fiscal year in September, Apple had 17,787 full-time employees, the large majority of whom probably work in the United States.

Apple employees will be getting their iPhones after the expected rush by early adopters. The phone goes on sale today, and consumers have already started lining up at some Apple retail stores, including those in New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto.

The Merc-News also reports that the Bay Area technorati are sending mixed signals about the iPhone

With Apple's much-hyped new iPhone handset going on sale today, just about all of the technorati - like a good chunk of consumer America - seem to have been pondering whether to buy it or not. For the tech elite, price is generally not a concern, but usefulness is.

Some are more than ready to ditch their BlackBerrys, Treos and other gadgets for the iPhone - or add it to their collection. But for now, many others have decided that the iPhone isn't good enough to replace what they're already using.

In addition to making voice calls, the iPhone can store and play digital music and videos, surf the Internet and check e-mail. The device, which will come in $499, 4-gigabyte and $599, 8-gigabyte versions, runs on a special version of Apple's lauded Mac operating system.

The buzz surrounding it is in spite of the fact that few among the elite, not to mention the hoi polloi, have even touched the device, much less played with one. Other than Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Google CEO Eric Schmidt - an Apple director - is the only tech titan known to have had an iPhone before its official launch.

"This is the privilege of being on the Apple board," Schmidt said, while showing off his iPhone at a Google event on the company's campus earlier this month. "I have to guard this with my life around here."

Not many among the Silicon Valley elite will admit plans to join the enthusiasts already in line. In fact, many of those who said they'd be buying the phone said they'd hold off until after the first days' rush.

Zach Lynch, executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization in San Francisco, sees the iPhone as a "neural prosthetic" and looks forward to seeing how he'll use the device. But he plans to wait several weeks to buy one.

Indeed, the iPhone may find its biggest fans in the valley not among the tech elite themselves, but with their wives, sons and daughters. Mitchell Kertzman, a partner at venture capital firm Hummer Winblad, for instance, plans to get one iPhone for himself and one for his 15-year-old daughter, Abigail. But Kertzman expects that his daughter's will be the only one that really gets used.

"Abigail . . . is an iPod/iTunes fanatic and . . . has thought of little else since she first saw the announcement (except maybe the new Harry Potter book and movie)," Kertzman said.

The e-mail factor

While he will buy an iPhone because he loves gadgets, Kertzman is a big mobile e-mail user, which means he might not use his much.

"I don't think this release of the iPhone will be quite ready for prime time for business/e-mail users," he said.

Many of those who plan on holding off on an iPhone cite similar reasons for why Kertzman doesn't plan on using his.

That the phone won't support "push" e-mail from Microsoft exchange servers and runs on AT&T's relatively slow EDGE network are two deal killers for Bill Burnham, a former venture capitalist who now runs Inductive Capital, a small hedge fund.

CBS reports from New York City

If there's any sign that the release of this revolutionary Apple iPhone will live up to the euphoric hype generated by the media or the crazed gadget geeks lining up and camping out for the music-camera-Internet-phone extraordinaire, how about the fact that AT&T stores nationwide will be actually closing their doors for 90 minutes Friday to prepare for the big debut?

That's right, if you need to have your suddenly uncool VGA camera flip-phone tweaked at 4:30, unfortunately you'll be straight out of luck. AT&T will be shutting down at that time in order to gear up for the iPhone launch, slated for a 6 p.m. birth to the public.

More importantly, if you plan on stomping over other customers to get your iPhone fix, prepare to work your way through beefed up security and extra employees on hand to stop iPhone insanity. Managers are ready for anything and they certainly know that anything and everything is possible after the frantic fervor that erupted upon the release of the once incredibly-coveted Xbox 360.

InformationWeek has some advice "Don't Get Greedy

People hoping to make a quick buck by selling iPhones on eBay right after the highly anticipated devices go on sale Friday are going to be out of luck.

Apple on Thursday said customers buying the combination phone, multimedia player, and Web browser through one of its 164 retail stores in the U.S. will be limited to two on a first come, first served basis. The only other place where the phones can be purchased is through AT&T, which requires the buyer to sign up for a two-year service plan. AT&T is the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone in the United States.

If the initial demand for the iPhone is as big as expected, then the gadgets are likely to sell out quickly, which could make the hot items a lucrative piece of merchandise on eBay. Apple is apparently more interested in getting the $500 devices to as many customers as possible.

To assist buyers in using their new toy, Apple on Saturday plans to offer free workshops at its retail stores. In addition, the company said it would offer personal training through its One to One program. "Apple retail stores were created for this moment -- to let customers touch and experience a revolutionary new product," Ron Johnson, Apple's senior VP of retail, said in a statement.

Hype aside, the iPhone is considered unique because of, among other things, its multi-touch screen to control the device. The iPhone combines three products in one -- a mobile phone, widescreen iPod for playing music and watching video, and a Web-browsing device.

The iPhone is scheduled to go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. local time Friday. Apple's online store will start taking orders at 6 p.m. Pacific time. The device comes in two models: a 4Gbyte version for $499, and an 8Gbyte model for $599. The AT&T service plan will cost from $60 to $100 a month.

People willing to endure hardship to be among the first to buy an iPhone started forming a line at 5 a.m. Monday outside Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York. The high demand has led to others running online ads on Craigslist, offering to either hold a place in line for iPhone customers, or to buy the phones outright for people willing to pay for the service.

Nine Alternatives are profiled (follow the link)

Fortunately, there are many iPhone alternatives, including those with media players for music, video, and streaming content. At prices ranging from $75 to $450, they're cheaper than Steve Jobs' latest pet project, too.

Businesses generally have different needs than consumers when it comes to smartphones, not the least of which is access to applications. Despite Jobs' promise of "a very sweet solution" for developing and running third-party applications on the iPhone, Apple's plans for supporting business apps are fuzzy. Mobile e-mail provider Visto this week said it will support the iPhone, providing one option for accessing Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus e-mails. But for now, the iPhone is essentially a closed platform.

The iPhone will use AT&T's EDGE network, instead of the faster 3G cellular networks. That means certain applications, especially those that require a lot of server interaction, won't run as fast as they would on alternative smartphones that work with 3G networks.

Apple also has to prove that the iPhone is secure enough for the business world. Other mobile operating system makers such as Microsoft and Research In Motion have put a lot of effort into securely connecting smartphones to enterprise networks.

So it may be worth shopping around before you stand in line at the Apple or AT&T store with credit card in hand

Verizon Wireless Tries To Counter iPhone Frenzy With Store Stunt

Verizon said its stores and kiosks will stay open until 9 p.m. Friday so customers can 'test drive' and purchase any of its 18 multimedia music devices.

spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless said the open store event gives the company the opportunity to showcase the advantages of its V Cast Music library and its "pay as you go" approach to purchasing songs and music albums. V Cast music songs cost 99 cents each. "We went to great lengths to make it easy to download music to handsets," she said.

The battle of the mobile phone stores also involves comparing (sorry) apples and oranges. Apple has 164 retail stores in the U.S., while Verizon Wireless has 2,300 store outlets in the U.S.

Verizon also is trumpeting the speed of its network -- 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps -- as well as the affordability of its handsets, many of which cost less than $100. The $499 to $599 iPhone, of course, contains an iPod music player, already fabulously successful.

Verizon is showcasing its LG VX9400 phone in a $99 package that also contains a stereo headset, a PC to LG VX9400 transfer cable, and a 2-Gbyte memory card that can store up to 1,000 songs.

Our friends in foreign countries, in the real world, in the work-kids-spouse world... may honestly be wondering "What-the-....? Has the world gone crazy?"

Actually, this is another good example of the kind of creative insanity that makes humanity leap forward. No, not necessarily the iPhone or iPOD or even Apple and Steve Jobs... This is a combination of changes in technology, good design, great marketing all spurring competition, innovation and setting the stage for the next steps...

We didn't need a new telephone, a new portable computer, a new portable music or video player. But it seams that we sure do like it when one comes along... Apple forecasts selling 45 million units. AT&T will have them sign a two year contract.... That much spending, that much wealth creation will bring out many imitators, system improvements and spur additional changes in things we didn't think we "needed".

EVen if you have resisted the hype, resisted the pricing, resisted the celebrity-technorati allure... I am sure that you or someone you know will be playing with it soon...

Steve Jobs closed his email interview with the WSJ's Walter Mossberg as follows:

Mossberg: This first model is missing some features some other smart phones have, like video recording, instant messaging, and real-time GPS navigation. Do you plan to upgrade iPhones purchased now so they have these features? If so, when?

Jobs: We don't talk about future products. I will say that the iPhone is the most sophisticated software platform ever created for a mobile device, and that we think software features are where the action will be in the coming years. Stay tuned.

The whole wide world is chasing him... he'll have to run faster.


That didn't take long....

As Apple prepares for today's iPhone release, a report Thursday by research firm Gartner said that Apple is going to have to introduce a second, lower-priced iPhone within nine months to keep the momentum going.

Apple has historically updated its products within nine to 12 months, the report said, so that's not unrealistic.

It also said that Apple and partner AT&T will have to develop services to show users that the iPhone is worth it, particularly for people who have never used iTunes or an iPod.

Meanwhile, another Gartner analyst issued a warning for corporations regarding the iPhone, saying it will be difficult to make the new gadget secure by normal corporate standards....

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