Apple's 3G IPhone Could Bow at Developer Event

With anticipation at a fever pitch, Apple may release its new 3G iPhone and officially announce a new software platform for the phone when CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference Monday.

The new iPhone will feature GPS (Global Positioning System) services and a thinner form factor, wrote Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research, in a research report this week. The new iPhone will also have thinner casing and an "improved virtual keyboard with haptics," like multitouch technology, Wu wrote.

Pricing for the 3G iPhone may be US$50 to $100 cheaper than the iPhone, which sell at $399 for a 8G-byte version and $499 for a 16G-byte version, Wu wrote.

Apple's iPhone is in short supply, with both current versions listed as being unavailable on Apple's Web site. Apple officials previously acknowledged that iPhone stocks were low in the U.S. and Europe, fueling speculation that Apple was winding down supplies to ready the market for the new iPhone.

However, the old iPhone won't disappear, Wu wrote. It makes sense to keep the old iPhone supplies running as the usage of older wireless networks is widespread, especially in the U.S., Wu said.

AT&T is readying its 3G (third-generation) network to handle potential traffic from the iPhone. AT&T this week announced that it had upgraded its 3G wireless network to reach downlink speeds of up to 1.7M bps (bits per second), a 20 percent increase over previous speeds. The broadband network is available in many U.S. metropolitan areas, and the carrier intends to expand it. The network uses HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology.

Apple hopes to ship 10 million iPhones in calendar 2008. A number of network providers worldwide recently signed deals with Apple to offer iPhones, including Softbank in Japan, Telefonica in Spain, and Telecom Italia.

The company hopes to boost iPhone adoption through iPhone 2.0, the phone's software platform that Apple might announce at WWDC. During an earnings call in April, Apple officials said the company plans to deliver iPhone 2.0 software as a free download in late June.

The iPhone 2.0 includes an SDK (software developer kit) that allows developers to write applications for the iPhone, including push e-mail support through the Microsoft Exchange mail server.

Apple may also preview the new version of Mac OS X, an upgrade to Leopard, its current OS, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog Web site. Code-named "Snow Leopard," Mac OS X 10.6 may ultimately be released at the Macworld show next January.

TUAW also said that Apple may retool its .Mac online service, renaming it MobileMe service and adding support for new applications on the service. The new service will add new versions of its online mail and address book services and support for Apple's iChat and iPhoto desktop applications, the site said.

WWDC will be held in San Francisco from Monday through Friday.

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