Daniel Eran Dilger
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WWDC 2008: iPhone G3 Revealed

iPhone 3G
Daniel Eran Dilger
Apple did something nobody expected at WWDC: it managed to keep its new “iPhone 3G” design, features, and price under tight wraps up until Steve Jobs’ keynote today, foiling the efforts of online spies trying to scoop the news on the sequel to the hottest product of 2007. While it was widely expected that Apple would deliver a 3G version of the Phone, the company managed to roll in a couple of other significant surprises that should dramatically reconfigure the expectations of consumers and business users, dramatically expand Apple’s mobile platform audience, and deliver a new wave of justifiable excitement before competitors can even catch up to last year’s phone.

Developers, Developers, Developers! (No Sweat).
Steve Jobs repeated his now customary keynote role of being the lead speaker of a symposium presentation, assisted by Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall, who talked about technical developer issues, and Senior VP of Product Marketing Phil Schiller, who addressed the introduction of Mobile Me, Apple’s new .Mac replacement, and how it will integrate with the iPhone.

While talking about third party developers, Jobs didn’t jump around the stage all sweaty and out of breath, prompting aspiring tech soap opera site Valleywag to suggest Apple’s CEO was “dangerously thin” for not being as obese as Microsoft’s fearless leader. However, Jobs did highlight that the iPhone SDK saw 250,000 downloads by developers in 95 days, and that the company received 25,000 applicants for the paid developer certificate program, of which 4,000 have been admitted so far.

A number of developers also showed off applications for the iPhone that will be available at the launch of the Apps Store in iPhone 2.0 on July 11, or shortly afterward. That list included both existing Mac developers such as Pangea Software, which demoed two games ported from Mac OS X and adapted to the iPhone’s multitouch and accelerometer features, as well as established games developers including Sega and Digital Legends Entertainment, both of which are new to Apple development.

Digital Legends said it had ported its 3D fighting game Kroll, originally released for the Nokia N-Gage platform, to the iPhone in just four days, using the balance of two weeks to add custom support for iPhone features such as its multitouch selection and accelerometer jump controls. Representative Xavier Costa described the iPhone platform as being a capable video game console rather than a basic mobile phone that can play games.

 Web Img Games Kroll2

 Web Img Games Kroll1

Apple also showcased new apps from Major League Baseball, eBay, the Associated Press, blogging support from Loopt and TypePad, the work of two established vendors of specialized medical imaging and educational tools on desktop, and an entirely new music app from a small developer in the UK, which turns the iPhone or iPod Touch into a variety of playable instruments with group jamming and recording capabilities.

iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP
Digital Legends Entertainment S.L.

3G, GPS AND Leading Battery Life.
One big surprise in the new iPhone 3G is GPS-based location services, which gives the new iPhone 3G better positioning accuracy using signals from orbiting satellite rather than just the combination of cellular and WiFi hotspot location tracking used in current models. While commonly cited as a competitive feature in other smartphones that the first generation iPhone lacked, many pundits did not expect that Apple would add GPS hardware support across the board in all new iPhone 3G models. Earlier reports did indicate the possible presence of GPS hardware.

In his keynote, Jobs demonstrated the improved accuracy offered by GPS by showing a map tracking the current position in real time as a moving dot, as opposed to the current location finding system that returns a large circle on the map encompassing the general location within a region the size of a city block or larger. The iPhone 3G’s GPS also supports tracking features, highlighted in a video depicting the driver heading down San Francisco’s famously twisty Lombard Street.

Last year, Jobs dismissed both faster 3G data service and GPS features as being too battery intensive to include in the iPhone, and readers with 3G phones agreed, one noting, “Using my Cingular 8525 with ‘3G’ enabled eats away at the battery at an astounding rate.” With the improved chipsets now available, Jobs indicated that the new model will provide up to 300 hours of standby, ten hours of 2G GSM talk time (up from 8 hours in the existing iPhone, 3G talk time of up to 5 hours (Jobs said most 3G phones only provide 3 to 3.5 hours), and 5 to 6 hours of high speed web browsing. Using it as an iPod, Apple claimed up to 7 hours of video and 24 hours of audio playback.

Jobs said the new iPhone’s 3G data networking approached WiFi speeds, pitting it against both existing EDGE and WiFi to download the graphics heavy National Geographic website. With 3G, the page completely finished in 21 seconds, compared to a difficult to watch 59 second delay using EDGE. WiFi was four seconds faster than 3G, coming in at 17 seconds. Jobs also compared page load times for the Nokia N95 at 33 seconds, or 34 seconds on the Palm Treo 750, further pointing out that both competing smartphones display a small area of the web page rather than showing the whole page as the iPhone does, and thereby offering a much less impressive web experience than Mobile Safari.

Readers Write About iPhone, 3G Wireless Networks

It Costs How Much?
After reviewing the new enterprise business features, third party software support, and worldwide rollout plans of the new iPhone 3G, Jobs addressed affordability, noting that when the company asked people who didn’t buy it why they chose not to, it found that price was the biggest factor. In response to that, Apple announced a second big surprise in that the iPhone 3G’s new “maximum” price would be set at $199 worldwide for the 8 GB model and $299 for the 16 GB model. The new model will become available on July 11, 2008 in 22 countries as a simultaneous release.

Jobs said Apple had an original goal to ship the iPhone in 12 countries this year, with a “stretch goal” of 25. Early consumer interest allowed the company to actually reach “signed, sealed and delivered” distribution deals in 70 countries this year, including Canada and Mexico, 15 countries in Central and South America, 29 countries in Europe, and nine in Asia and Australia, including India and Japan. During the keynote, Jobs dramatically played out the number of new markets using an animation that placed colored tiles over the map for each new country highlighted while playing the song “It’s a Small World,” painting most of the globe red apart from the key markets of China and Russia.

Jobs also rolled out a new ad, featuring two guards escorting a steel shipping container through a high security corridor past video surveillance and passkey checkpoints. The voice over announced the arrival of “the first phone to beat the iPhone,” which surfs the web twice as fast and costs half as much. The safe box is placed on a table and it robotically animates itself open to reveal “the new iPhone 3G.” Jobs was so pleased with the commercial he played it twice.


Apple – iPhone – Gallery – TV Ads

Same Same, But Different.
The new iPhone 3G sports a subtly refined shape that entirely escaped media spies. Several prominent fakes made an appearance prior to the event, but the actual model Apple showed looks very similar to the existing model, with slightly more beveled round edges that Jobs claimed “feels even better in your hand.” The new model has a black plastic back, with the higher end 16 GB version also offering a white plastic back plate option.

The front of the new iPhone 3G looks the same, lacking the rumored front facing video conferencing camera. The camera remains in the back, although Jobs did not comment on whether it had been improved. There was also no note of whether the camera software would be enhanced to support additional options or video capture.

The new model now uses a more standard flush headphone jack, making it more broadly compatible with a wider range of headphones, including those with an angled jack. Jobs said a new speaker design would also result in “dramatically improved audio.” The new model is reported going to be offered as a free upgrade to recent iPhone buyers and will require in store activation to curtail the grey market smuggling iPhone out of the US for unlocking and resale scalping in foreign markets.

Toni Sacconaghi Alert: Excessive iPhone Demand Reason to Panic

Toni Sacconaghi Alert: Excessive iPhone Demand Reason to Panic

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  • nat

    iPhone G3? Did I just become a little dyslexic? :D

  • nat

    Last years iPhone was already well ahead of the competition. Now, it’s just sad thinking of all the other companies trying to compete. I wonder how long it’ll take for Apple to surpass RIM’s Blackberry. Weeks or days? Maybe I’m being too conservative. :D

  • dicklacara

    Daniel, ya’ did it again– great article.

    I followed the keynote through 3 online live reports.

    I read a few early reviews… but didn’t get the feel of the keynote from any of those.

    I watched the streamed video of keynote and was quite impressed!

    Then I found this article– concise, factual and on point.

    Maybe next time you should do a live blog!


  • http://blog.weaverling.org/ weave

    My wife lost her iPhone last week (and someone found it and started making calls using that emergency mode button, until I suspended the account). At first I figured maybe she did it on purpose!

    Well after hearing that the new data plan was an extra $10/month and no included SMS bucket, and that she can’t live without a phone for another month, we were fortunate to find an AT&T store with some units in stock and had it replaced today.

    On the bright side, I read on Gizmodo that anyone buying an iPhone after May 27th can swap it out for a new unit for free, so I still have that option at least.

    Now I have a month to think about whether 3G is worth an extra $360 over two year contract period.

  • dicklacara


    I don’t know enough (just what I’ve read) about the market segment that RIM dominates.

    But, based on what I’ve seen of the handsets, I am not impressed!

    It appears that Apple has addressed all the points necessary to compete in the enterprise, and offer a better and lower cost solution.

    If I were to judge on the handset alone, my intuition tells me that it is no contest, iPhone wins, hands down.

    Not even considering Apple’s advantages in infrastructure (Apple stores, iTunes store, Developer tools).

    There are apps that the iPhone can do that RIM, and the others, just can’t do!

  • yuhong

    You did not talk about push notification and how WM’s task manager is a “joke”.

  • harrywolf

    Just happy that its finally in Canada – sadly my $600 16gb V.1 iPhone is now worth about $200 at most, but as I am a good customer of the not-very-good Rogers network, I found out today that I get a ‘hardware upgrade’ and will pay about $99 for my G3/3G (!) iPhone!
    I think I will be using the 3G switch off option in the preferences, and turning it on for surfing and email.

    With Me.com, its going to be cool to have everything updated without plugging in.
    I was, I admit, thinking of a video conference function, and maybe a slightly better camera, and maybe cut and paste(although I think this is a 2.0 app possibility?) – but I think that Apple has done a great job, and also dropped the price so dramatically.
    You have to expect all kinds of accessories to emerge now we are on 3G and 2.0.
    This thing is going to sell huge!

    Clear analysis Dan, as usual – any idea why they are allowing TWO months of no sales of the iPhone at all? Isnt that a potential loss of 12-15% of yearly sales?

  • http://www.isights.org/ whmlco

    The “tech specs” page on Apple’s web indicates that the camera resolution is still 2MP.

    The lack of an upgrade to the camera is in fact the biggest disappointment to me, as the existing 2MP camera takes pretty crappy photos in anything but bright sunlight. Plus competitor’s products are hitting 3 and 5MP, with enough detail to generate useable photos.

    And I doubt that Apple has improved the software with any image processing tools (exposure, saturation) or video. If so, they would have shown it, as even the lowly calculator got a mention due to the addition of scientific functions.

  • Rich

    I doubt the increased battery life is due to a more efficient chipset. Apple uses the same off the shelf components as every other manufacturer.

    I’m sure that the big gains in battery life are from software changes, as OSX is increasingly optimized for mobile devices.

  • http://coderad.net StrictNon-Conformist

    “Apple did something nobody expected at WWDC: it managed to keep its new “iPhone 3G” design, features, and price under tight wraps up until Steve Jobs’ keynote today, foiling the efforts of online spies trying to scoop the news on the hottest product of 2007.”

    Hey, wait, is the iPhone 3G so last year? ;) Darn time travel machine must have left you confused as to the current date :)

  • AdamC

    StrictNon-Conformist, the magic of the iPhone is the touch property. Using just the finger to scroll and everything makes the iPhone a wonder on its own which no mobile phone comes close. It is actually tomorrow whereas every other mobile phone is yesterday.
    BTW serious photography is done by a camera not one in a mobile phone.

  • http://coderad.net StrictNon-Conformist

    AdamC, I think you must have been tired to address that reply to me, when whmlco seems like the appropriate person to respond to ;)

    Being an owner of an iPhone, I’m well aware of its traits, including the fact that the camera is merely that of being part of the expectation of being able to take pictures, but not focusing (pardon the pun) on photographic quality, but instead putting more into the whole phone as a phone.

    I was noting that Daniel made a mistake with the year in his post.

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  • http://www.isights.org/ whmlco

    AdamC, If I want to do serious photography I’ll dig out my 1Ds. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’d prefer my snapshots of family and friends didn’t look like crap.

    If Apple is going to embed functionality into the phone, then it should at least be able to do the job one would expect of it.

    Including a bare-bones 2MP camera is like adding video iPod functionality… to a 2GB iPod.

  • http://ephilei.blogspot.com Ephilei

    Can someone explain how 3G approaches “Wifi speeds”?! Wifi is only limited by your ISP cap which is potentially far faster than 3G. Sounds like dirty marketing comparing 3G (which I’m sure was done in ideal environment) with what had to have been a crippled Wifi g network.

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