The $99 iPhone, TomTom Becomes an App, and More

At the WWDC Apple keynote this morning a dizzying array of upgrades and refinements were announced for the Mac laptop line and the Mac OS. The Safari browser also saw a range of improvements, but it was the iPhone-related announcements that everyone was waiting for.

Apple announced a faster iPhone (3Gs) with a 3 megapixel camera and video and an impressive voice control that extends across the device to contacts and iPod/iTunes. The battery life has also been extended. The new device reportedly has 5 hours of talk time and 9 hours of WiFi-Internet life. 

There are two models: 16 and 32GB for $199 and $299 respectively with an AT&T contract. The company also announced the much-anticipated $99 8GB version to broaden the appeal of the device. That will draw lots more folks to AT&T. 

Here's a partial list of the new capabilities announced (some were pre-announced):

  • App sharing for free apps (not paid)
  • Cut and paste
  • MMS including video from all carriers at launch (AT&T late summer but maybe not video).
  • Direct movie rental and purchase over the air (audio books too). ent and purchase movies from the phone, along with audiobooks.
  • Tethering via bluetooth and USB for Macs and PCs (but no AT&T support in US)
  • MobileMe features: find my phone (from PC browser) and remote clearing of data
  • Google Maps embeddable in third party apps, including turn by turn
  • Video embeddable in third party apps
  • Push notifications of various sorts
  • Search over all apps, contact, etc. 

Also on display were a range of games and various useful apps (e.g., ZipCar, which allows users to unlock the car with the app) for the new 3.0 software. This part of the keynote underscored the critical role of apps for Apple in staying ahead of the competition.  

One of the more noteworthy apps shown was the TomTom for iPhone with a windshield mount. No price was mentioned so it's probably expensive. But it's GPS, turn by turn + points of interest, etc. and provides another reason to buy the device (bad news PND market). RIM just bought DASH so expect it to be used in a similar way. 

There are now 50K apps in the apps store (vs. 18 so far for Pre) and a combined total of 40 million iPhone + iPod touches sold on a global basis. Apple said that 65% of mobile browser usage is on the iPhone/iPod touch.

Here's the apps count according to Apple:

  • Apple: 50K
  • Android: 5K
  • Nokia/Symbian: 1K
  • RIM: 1K

The combination of hardware and software upgrades announced today, combined with the new $99 8GB iPhone, makes it still the device to beat in the space. It's also clear that AT&T remains a drag on the iPhone's potential sales in the US. And while the $99 model will drive some additional subs to AT&T (perhaps a lot), if it were more broadly available there would probably be 2X the sales for the coveted device.