Apple answers the call for iPhones

Apple has lifted the curtain on its first phone, which company CEO Steve Jobs said is smarter than everything else on the market.

The slender iPhone announced by Jobs at Macworld on Tuesday, uses a 3.5-in. colour touch screen that can be used in landscape or portrait mode for input and synchronizes media, contact information, calendars, photos, notes, bookmarks, e-mail accounts from a user’s Macintosh or PC.

“If you make a biz school 101 graph, cell phones are at the bottom… smartphones are a little smarter, but they’re harder to use.,” Jobs said in a Webcast of his keynote.
“We don’t want to make either one of these things — we want to make a leapfrog product, smart and easy to use. This is what iPhone is.”

However, it isn’t clear when it will come to Canada. Jobs said iPhones will first be launched in the U.S. in June on the Cingular network, followed by Europe in the fourth quarter.

A telecommunications analyst said that if popular, the handset could pose problems for system managers from employees of organizations who want to synch it to their desktops at work.

“It think it will raise security concerns,” said Brian Sharwood, a principal at the SeaBoard Group of Toronto.  “I didn’t see any mention of security in the technical specifications.”

“If you’re an enterprise buyer you’re going to have to look at this and make sure (iPhone) mail is coming through secure VPNs, that it’s got password control so if the device is stolen people can’t decrypt it (data).

“That’s one of the areas where RIM has done very well addressing these concerns,” he also said. On the other hand, he acknowledged that Apple makes “pretty top-line stuff.”

Sharwood also noted that while the iPhone is aimed at consumers, its priced at the upper end of the market — US$499 or US$599, depending on the model, with a two-year contract on the Cingular network in the U.S. That’s a price level where carriers pitch business phones, he said. 

“It’s certainly going to change the way carriers go after consumer customers,” he said.

iPhone will also change the way manufacturers such as Nokia, RIM and Motorola build handsets, Sharwood said, to follow Apple’s lead in integrating phones to desktop computers. “When you look at the screen it looks exactly like my Apple desktop,” he said.

The iPhone runs on Mac OS X, with a version the Safari brower for Intenet connectivity. “Why would we want to run such a sophisticated OS on a mobile device? It’s got everything we need — mulittasking, networking, power management, graphics, security, video, graphics, audio core animation,” Jobs said. “It let us create desktop class applications and networking, not the cripled stuff you find on most phones. These are real desktop applications.”

Initially the phone will only work on GSM networks. Equipped with with a 2MP camera, the device is 115mm tall by 61mm deep by 11.6mm wide (4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches) and weighs 135 grams (4.8 oz). It will come in versions with 4GB and 8GB of storage.

Jobs also showed a previously announced CDN$349 box for wirelessly streaming content between computers and digital televisions, now dubbed Apple TV, which will go on sale next month. The 40GB unit uses the 802.11n draft standard for connectivity and can connect up to five computers. Apple TV requires iTunes 7 or later running on a Mac with Mac OSX version 10.3.9 or later, or a Windows PC with Windows XP Home/Professional (SP2).

Sharwood said the device could change the way content is delivered to consumers by centering it in on the computer. Instead of programming going first to a TV, it will go to the PC for recording and later playback or distribution to mobile devices, he said.  “This is a sign of where the world of content is going — you download just what you want.” 

With the iPhone  and Apple TV joining the company’s other popular device, the iPod,  Job is dropping “Computer” from its name so it will now be known simply as Apple Inc.

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Meanwhile at CES Las Vegas, second-day keynote speaker Michael Dell of Dell Inc. unveiled a high-end gaming desktop, two flat-panel monitors, a product bundle designed to “gear up” any home and a new online data recover and backup service available later this year in the U.S..

Among the new products he showed were the XPS 710 H2C for PC enthusiasts and high-end gamers.

The system, which starts at U.S. $5,499, incorporates a two-stage cooling process. First, a liquid-to-air heat exchanger works like a car’s radiator and fan system to remove heat from the processor. Then, ceramic-based thermoelectric cooling modules like those used in space shuttles remove additional heat. Sensors help prevent the formation of frost or condensation by helping to keep the processor slightly above ambient room temperature. The XPS 710 H2C starts at $5,499.

Also at the show, Thomson showed the InfoLink cordless home phone system, which puts popular information from the Internet at the user’s fingertip without a computer. This new phone streams news, weather, traffic, health information, terror alerts, sports, entertainment news, stock ticker data and desired news headlines right to the handset’s LCD screen.

G-Tech announced a new water repellent laptop carrying case featuring built-in, ultra-thin NXT speakers. Users gain the ultimate protection for their laptops, plus the ability to connect their computer, iPod, or other audio device to enjoy music while they’re on the go. The G-Tech Secure Sound Laptop Sleeve can be carried on its own or stowed away within most any briefcase. Extra features include a padded separate sleeve with pockets for iPods, cards, pens, notes, and CDs, as well as an adjustable divider to accommodate different computer sizes.

Sony showed the Vaio UX 390N Premium Micro PC, which runs on flash memory instead of a microdrive found on the UX 390P model. A company executive said the U.S. $2,500 N version, which has a 4.5-in. screen and an Intel core Solo processor, is the smallest-sized, full-functioning notebook around.

Sony also showed the WA1 Wireless Digital Music Streamer, which streams music or Internet radio from a PC for playback in virtually any room of a house, and the TP1 Digital Living System, a one-of-a-kind home computer. These spherical, white devices “shatter the notion of what a PC product should look like or where it should reside in your home,” a company official said.

AMD announced what it calls its Better by Design specifications program for builders of desktop and notebook PCs. Systems that feature the Better by Design label will incorporate AMD64 dual-core processors as well as graphics and wireless network performance to help deliver on the promised rich visual capabilities and new features of Windows Vista.  Computer manufacturers supporting the program include Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, NEC, Tongfang and others.

Com One said its new Bluetooth Multimedia 2.1 Speakers provide 3D surround sound for gaming consoles and MP3 players. The are designed to be universally compatible with all Bluetooth stereo devices and audio sources equipped with a jack (3.5 mm or RCA audio output connection).

ZyXEL Communications Inc. ( announced the latest addition to its suite of Digital Home products. The NSA-220, a dual drive network attached storage and digital media server, is a centralized storage solution that can be shared throughout the home. The new storage appliance makes sharing, storing and backing-up of digital content quick and painless and features a built-in DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) server to stream digital files to any DLNA-capable device.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies showed what it said is the industry’s first terabyte (TB) hard drive. Delivering superior performance and reliability, as well as capacity, the Deskstar 7K1000 hard drive meets the needs of consumers who want to create, share and store their digital information, and lots of it. Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000 will begin shipping to retail customers in the first quarter of 2007 at a suggested retail price of US$399.

There’s also a CinemaStar version 1TB drive, for system builders and OEMs creating digital video recorders.

Hitachi Telecom displayed the AMN1220 Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) system for service providers, which delivers high-bandwidth communication and entertainment services to users through a direct fiber optic connection to individual residences and businesses. Hitachi said it operates at 2.4 gigabits per second downstream and 1.2 gigabits per second upstream.

Belkin International said it will launch the Belkin Cooling stand next month, a high-capacity blower fan that sits under a laptop and drives damaging heat away. Powered by the computer’s USB port, the gently curved US$29.99 stand also has a slight slope to improve typing comfort and reduces wrist strain.

Brother International touted its MFC-5460cn (US$149.99) and the MFC-5860cn (US$179.99) multifunction printers for the SOHO market. The models, each with Ethernet connection possess many of the same business features that are driving growth in this part of the market, including higher-capacity automatic document feeders, high-resolution printing, network compatibility, fast printing, stand-alone faxing and, cost-effective consumables.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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