Apple plans mobile revolution with iPhone

With characteristic showmanship, Steven P. Jobs introduced Apple’s long-awaited entry into the cellphone world on Tuesday, pronouncing it an achievement on a par with the Macintosh and the iPod.

The creation, the iPhone, priced at $499 or $599 (approx Rs 22,000 or Rs 26,500), will not be for everyone. It will be available with a single carrier, Cingular Wireless, at midyear in the United States.

Its essential functions — music player, camera, Internet browser and email tool as well as phone — have become commonplace in handheld devices. But it was the ability to fuse those elements with a raft of innovations and Apple’s distinctive design sense that had the crowd here buzzing.

Apple’s goal, Mr Jobs said, was to translate the Macintosh computer’s ease of operation into the phone realm. “We want to make it so easy to use that everyone can use it,” he said. And he was clearly betting on translating Apple’s success with the iPod music player to a hot category of multifunction devices.

Underscoring the transformation of a quirky computer maker into the dominant force in digital music, and signalling his ambitions to extend that reach, Mr Jobs also announced that Apple was
dropping “computer” from its name and would henceforth be known as Apple Inc. Investors took quickly to the pitch, sending Apple’s stock price up to a record close, while shares of established cellphone makers slumped.

Still, the phone is a gamble on a new business for Apple. And even with its success with the iPod and a reborn line of computers, it has not been immune to marketplace failures, like the Macintosh Cube introduced in 2000.

But in his two-hour presentation before an audience of reporters, analysts and Apple employees at the Macworld Expo trade show, the parallel he repeatedly drew was between the new phone and the Macintosh personal computer, which had a vast impact on the computer industry when it arrived in 1984.

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