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iPhone cases debut in Free iPod Book 3.0

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Several new iPhone accessories made their debut in The Free iPod Book 3.0, including a slew of new cases like the Belkin Armband for iPhone, Griffin Streamline, Marware SportGrip Backwinder for iPhone,image Marware C.E.O. QuickVue, and the Belkin Holster for iPhone. Also unveiled were the Griffin Elan Sleeve, Belkin Acrylic Case for iPhone, Griffin iClear for iPhone, Power Support Crystal Jacket Set and Crystal Film Set for iPhone, and the Marware Sidewinder for iPhone. Be sure to check out The Free iPod Book 3.0 for complete coverage of these and other new iPod and iPhone accessories.

iPhone coming June 29, three ads launched (updated)

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Announced in January for a June release, Apple’s iPhone finally has a street date: June 29, 2007. In a series of three commercials now found on Apple.com, and beginning to air on television, Apple announces the date while touting the phone’s versatility as an iPod, cell phone, and mobile Internet device. The commercials, “Never Been an iPod,” “How To,” and “Calamari,” show the phone switching effortlessly from feature to feature, rendering easy and straightforward transitions from media playback to e-mailing, web browsing, and Google Maps.

Each commercial ends with the disclaimer that “(u)se requires minimum new 2 year activation plan” with AT&T. No major new features are shown, but the screens now highlight the AT&T logo and include a Bluetooth icon alongside the battery life indicator at the screen’s upper right corner. Several of the icons have also changed slightly in position from their original places; consequently, it’s unclear whether you can manually rearrange the icons on the system’s home menu, or whether they’ve been permanently moved. A demonstration of email functionality now contains a bottom-of-screen “Updated” listing noting when email was last synchronized, plus two-line summaries of message content rather than the one-line summaries shown in prior demonstrations.

Additional small details are also evident. The unit’s top now clearly shows a concave headphone port, rather than the purely flat surface found on the tops of iPods; how this may impact headphone plug compatibility is unclear. Apple now also refers to its Safari web application as “Safari” on the main menu rather than as “Web,” keeping the iPhone application’s branding consistent with the OS X application.

AT&T COO: iPhone ‘a game changer’

Speaking at an investor conference in New York, AT&T Chief Operating Officer Randall Stephenson claimed that expectations for Apple’s iPhone were “too low,” and that the device would be “a game changer” for the cellular industry. Mentioning the more than one million customers who have showed interest in the device, Stephenson claimed “The iPhone is going to be a game changer. I don’t know what your expectations are for the iPhone, but I would tell you they’re probably too low at this point.” Stephenson will replace Edward Whitacre Jr. as CEO of AT&T on June 3.

Palm, Microsoft to unveil new mobile devices [updated]

Two potential iPhone rivals will be introduced weeks ahead of the device on Wednesday, according to reports. Palm said today that company founder Jeff Hawkins will announce “a new category of mobile device” at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital Conference tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gizmodo is reporting that Microsoft will introduce a new device at midnight tonight. In an advance look at the announcement, the gadget blog quotes a Microsoft email as saying the product is “something totally new coming out of the [Microsoft] Entertainment and Devices division, and it’s going to change the way people interact with technology.” The email also stated that “you really have to see it to believe it.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will take part in a rare joint interview at the D conference on Wednesday. A Microsoft device announcement would seemingly be aimed at giving Gates a talking point to counter the iPhone discussion during the meeting.

imageUpdate: Microsoft’s announcement is a tabletop touch-sensitive technology dubbed Microsoft Surface. Reportedly five years in the making, the advanced software allows users to use their fingers to manipulate photos and files, much like the iPhone’s multi-touch interface. The computers will initially be targeted at businesses, hotels and other retail establishments.

imageUpdate #2: Palm’s new product is the Foleo, a new mobile device being marketed as a companion to the company’s Treo smartphone. The device sports a 10-inch display, full-size keyboard, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a 5-hour battery life. The Palm Foleo will be available later this year for $500.

AT&T exec talks Google, ‘unlimited’ plan for iPhone

AT&T’s president of national distribution, Glenn Laurie, has revealed in an interview that the wireless provider will be recommending an “unlimited” plan for iPhone customers. When asked about the handset’s full-featured browser, Laurie replied: “I think it will be great for us, and here’s why. One of the things with this device — people are going to be asked to have an unlimited package — people are going to have to have a package with us to browse.” Laurie refused to answer a question about possible subsidizing of the device, but did mention some new features, stating “There are other things — you have the widgets, some of the Google applications that are coming — there are just so many things here that the price will not be an issue.”

Telco analyst claims iPhone release date June 20

A discussion on Google Finance between readers has revealed that a telecommunications analyst, speaking on the CNBC program “On the Money” Thursday night, said they had been given a confirmed iPhone release date of June 20. June 20 is a Wednesday, which would be an abnormal day of the week for such an important launch for Apple — the company typically introduces new products on either Tuesday or Friday. “On the Money” airs nightly on CNBC at 7:00 ET, and is hosted by Melissa Francis. [via Mac Rumors]

iPhone well protected by patents

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Wireless news site Unwired View has posted an article examining the patents that pertain to the iPhone, and have found that the device is indeed well protected by patent law. Apple-held patents for the iPhone include the multipoint touchscreen, gestures for touch sensitive devices, the proximity detector in a handheld device, a system for sensing ambient light, and the patent for the handset itself, a multifunctional handheld device. In his keynote address this January, Steve Jobs made reference to the fact that the iPhone was protected by law, stating, “And boy have we patented it.”

Study: 90 percent of phone owners find iPhone superior

A study done by Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Labs into consumer perceptions of the iPhone experience shows that 90 percent of respondents gave the iPhone higher marks than their own handset. The study captured consumer reactions to an Apple-developed video highlighting the features of the iPhone. “An overwhelming 90 percent of respondents gave the iPhone higher marks than their own handset and over 40 percent of respondents rated the iPhone much better across key functional categories—including music player, web browsing, voice mail, and phone call management—indicating real innovation in designing a user experience,” said Harvey Cohen, President of Strategy Analytics, who conducted the research. Kevin Nolan, Director of User Experience Research at Strategy Analytics, added, “While the iPhone ‘Wow’ factor is impressive, our user panel indicated that challenges in pricing and positioning may act as a barrier to mass-market success. Nonetheless, the iPhone clearly represents a breakthrough in terms of user experience.”

AT&T to offer prepaid iPhone service?

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Apple’s iPhone may be available with prepaid cellular service, according to a report from a mobile industry insider blog. The Boy Genius Report has posted screenshots purported to be from an internal AT&T/Cingular system which shows that the iPhone will be available three ways—traditional subscription service, Go Phone Pay As You Go (prepaid), and Go Phone Pick Your Plan (hybrid). If true, prepaid iPhone service would allow consumers to purchase and use the iPhone without signing a lengthy AT&T service plan or dropping their current carrier. Prepaid Cingular cards start at $15.

Verizon COO: iPhone response coming ‘late summer’

Speaking with USA Today regarding the company’s decision to pass on becoming the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. distributor, Verizon Chief Operating Officer Denny Strigl claims it has an answer to the iPhone waiting in the wings. “We do have a very good response in the mill,” Strigl claimed. “You’ll see that from us in the late summer.” In addition, Stigl believes that the fate of the iPhone rests more with AT&T’s network than with the handset. “The issue is not the Apple-ness of the iPhone itself, but with the cellular network that it is running on,” he stated. “That will be the true test of the iPhone: What will the iPhone experience be?” As part of its exclusive deal with AT&T, Apple is barred from developing a Verizon-compatible CDMA version of the iPhone for the next five years.

Questions surround European iPhone launch

With the stateside launch of Apple’s iPhone just weeks away, questions have begun to emerge surrounding the device’s European launch. Despite the handset being months from hitting store shelves, almost half of European iPod owners would consider the iPhone as their next mobile, according to a survey conducted by Canalys, a Reading, England-based research firm. A key factor in which carrier will offer the iPhone in Europe is whether or not the European version of the handset includes 3G mobile network technology. Apple has already stated that the US version of the phone will not include 3G, instead opting for the more widespread GPRS/EDGE.

If the European version of the iPhone does include 3G, carriers likely to offer the device include 3, a network offering 3G service in Austria, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden, and T-Mobile, which offers 3G service in Austria, Britain, and Germany. “Both these operators are the most forward-thinking in how 3G telephones should be brought to consumers,” said Carolina Milanesi, a mobile phone analyst for Gartner in London. “They have the appropriate and futuristic business models necessary for the iPhone already in place.” Vodafone, previously rumored as an Apple suitor, is Europe’s largest service provider.

AT&T pushes Cingular rebranding ahead of iPhone

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AT&T has announced that it will accelerate its rebranding campaign at Cingular wireless stores to better take advantage of the iPhone’s launch. The company will replace the Cingular name with new AT&T signage in the interior its 1800 shops, ahead of the iPhone launch in late June. “The iPhone is one of the most anticipated handsets ever in the wireless industry, and we want to make sure that every drop of equity from the iPhone accrues to the AT&T brand,” AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said. “We want to be as far along as possible with our rebranding in advance of the launch of the iPhone.” Cingular signage found on the outside of the stores will remain unchanged for now.

TBWA to handle iPhone advertising

Following their success with the “Hello” commercial that aired during this year’s Academy Awards, TBWA/Chiat/Day will handle all advertising duties for the iPhone. According to an Advertising Age report (free subscription required), the firm beat out sibling agency BBDO — AT&T’s agency of record — for the account. Discussions on whether or not BBDO will provide support advertising are still ongoing. TBWA’s Media Arts Lab has handled creative duties for Apple since 1997.

iPhone receives FCC approval

Apple’s iPhone has received certification from the Federal Communications Commission. The application documents, made public by the FCC, include very little new information. An official Apple communication, found online with the other documents, showed the company requested items such as test setup, external, and internal photographs, as well as the User Manual to be withheld “from public viewing for forty-five days after the date certification is granted. [Today, meaning that the documents will be available July 1, presumably after the iPhone’s debut.]” The documents also revealed that the device is Apple Model No. A1203 and it received the FCC ID BCGA1203. In his January keynote address, Steve Jobs said, “We’re announcing [iPhone] today because we have to go get FCC approval. We thought it would be better to introduce this today rather than let the FCC introduce it.”

ezGear intros three iPhone cases

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ezGear has announced three silicone ezSkin cases for Apple’s iPhone. The cases, which will come with an adhesive screen protector, include the ezSkin for iPhone, ezSkin Bumperz for iPhone, and the ezSkin Xtreme for iPhone. The ezSkin is a slim-fitting case with removable belt holster. The ezSkin Bumperz wraps around the perimeter of the iPhone providing protection for the edge and all four corners of the device. The ezSkin Xtreme offers extra thick corners and sides to provide better shock and drop protection. The iPhone cases will be available in June. Pricing was not available.

AT&T: No pre-sales for iPhone

According to a leaked AT&T internal document, there will be no pre-sales of the iPhone. The document, which is a “sales brief” intended to educate employees, lists current and launch plans for the device. The brief clearly states, “Sales for the iPhone will be on a first come, first served basis. No wait list of names will be taken and NO pre-selling is allowed.” The document also says that exact release dates should not be given to customers, and that the prices are to be given as $499 for the 4GB and $599 for the 8GB model, which may indicate that the iPhone will not be subsidized. [via Business 2.0]

Nokia CFO hopes iPhone expands high-end market

Nokia CFO Rick Simonson has expressed hopes that the iPhone could help expand the high-end mobile phone market, according to Reuters. “The consumer ... hasn’t had a lot of choice to go out and purchase these kind of higher-end, feature-rich multimedia devices. If that can help that market grow, I think that gives us an opportunity,” said Simonson at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit. “It (the N95) is already out there, doing many of the things that people are talking about the iPhone doing. The iPhone is interesting. It’s very much a validation of what we’ve been doing, in terms of saying there is a multimedia device out there that people will pay for.”

Apple considering third-party iPhone apps

Despite initial reports that the iPhone would be a “closed” platform, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the company is still considering allowing third-party applications to run on the device. During Apple’s annual shareholders meeting yesterday, Jobs said that the company is “wrestling with” the issue, which comes as a surprise given comments made by the Apple chief earlier in the year. “You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” Jobs said in an interview following the iPhone introduction in January. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”

Motorola ‘ready’ for Apple’s iPhone

Motorola CEO Ed Zander says his company is ready to take on Apple’s iPhone. “How do you deal with that?” Zander was asked at the Software 2007 conference yesterday. “How do they deal with us?” he quipped. “I think it’s going to, in some cases, reinforce what we have been trying to do and are doing with the mobile Internet. Applications such as multimedia and video and photos and music are going to be done on these devices,” Zander said of the iPhone.

The Motorola chief said he is planning to introduce a high-end mobile phone next week in Europe that will compete with the iPhone. “This has unbelievable video capability. It’s a media monster,” he said. Motorola has seen recent financial problems following a dry spell of innovative devices. The company recently reported a first quarter net loss of $181 million, compared to a profit of $686 million in the year ago quarter.

Research In Motion unaffected by iPhone?

A report for TheStreet.com claims that BlackBerry maker Research In Motion could see few, if any, effects from the release of Apple’s iPhone. “RIM’s business could remain unaffected by the upcoming release of Apple’s iPhone, whose features are likely to appeal to a different audience from RIM’s, say analysts,” the report states. “Also, the iPhone’s multimedia features are likely to appeal more to consumers rather than to business users. And that could mean that companies such as Motorola and Nokia, which have a greater stake in the consumer market, will feel the effects more than RIM, whose customers are largely businesses.” RIM recently released the consumer-oriented BlackBerry Curve, which is expected to be sold at AT&T stores alongside the iPhone.

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