Apple unveils cheaper iPhone

Will run on 3G wireless networks that allow much faster Internet connections

SAN FRANCISCO: Steven P. Jobs, Chief Executive of Apple, introduced a new, cheaper iPhone model that connects to the Internet faster, expanded its distribution overseas and displayed a range of new applications and services in order to establish Apple as a major player in the cell phone industry.

Apple, the Cupertino, California, maker of consumer electronics and computer equipment, had set a goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, which would establish it as one of the major smartphone makers in the less than two years since it began shipping the original iPhone. Apple has sold six million phones globally since its introduction.

Mr. Jobs said the new iPhone 3G, to be available in the U.S. through AT&T beginning July 11, will sell for $199 for the 8-gigabyte model and $299 for a 16-gigabyte model. He said the biggest barrier to people buying the phone had been price.

As widely anticipated, the phone will run on so-called 3G wireless networks that allow much faster Internet connections than the original iPhone.

During a 110-minute presentation, Mr. Jobs went to some lengths to compare the speed of the new iPhone 3G to the current phone and to rival phones like the Nokia N95 and the Palm Treo 750. He called downloads ``amazingly zippy.”

The phone, sleeker than the original, will also have built-in Global Positioning System capability to allow location-based services.

It will also have a longer battery life in some cases, five hours for talking on the 3G network and 24 hours for playing music on the phone.

The announcements came on the opening day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

At one point during his demonstration, Jobs showed a tracking feature making it possible to watch on a Google map as an iPhone user drove down Lombard Street, the twisty tourist attraction in San Francisco.

Apple announced that it would begin selling the iPhone in 70 countries this summer; the current phone is being sold in six countries.

``Given the feature set, ecosystem partners, launch countries and the pricing of the iPhone, they are likely to hit the 10 million mark by September-October,” said Chetan Sharma, an independent consultant on the wireless data communications industry. — AP