Rogers to roll out iPhone 3G July 11

After remaining tight-lipped for months, Toronto-based Rogers Wireless said yesterday it plans to launch Apple Inc.’s iPhone 3G in Canada next month. The device itself, which is said to have longer battery life than previous iPhone models, was announced yesterday at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference

The new iPhone, sporting a thinner and sleeker look, will support faster 3G (third-generation) broadband wireless networks and come with built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) capabilities, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. Support for 3G networks will enable the new iPhone to download data up to 2.8 times faster than the earlier model, Jobs said. Built-in GPS will make it easier for users to navigate roads.

But one Canadian industry analyst said yesterday’s announcement “may have been overblown” because the 3G technology was Apple’s way of keeping up with Research in Motion Inc. Mark Tauschek, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research group, said in a press release the iPhone will let Apple “take market share” from other smart phone makers, and it is a “much more compelling choice for enterprise users” because it has version 2.0 of iPhone’s software, plus push e-mail and remote wipe capability.

The iPhone 3G will come with a 3.5-inch screen and have talk time of five hours, stand-by time of 300 hours, six hours of high-speed browsing time, 20 hours of audio and seven hours of video, Jobs said. Some who had previously bought iPhones complained about its battery life and that was a problem that Apple needed to solve with the new iPhone, Jobs said.

Quicker data downloads and lower prices are key to greater adoption of iPhones worldwide, Jobs said. The company found that 56 per cent of people surveyed wouldn’t buy the earlier iPhone because they found it expensive.

The phone will ship on July 11 in North America and will eventually be rolled out in 70 countries, including India, China, Singapore and Australia, Jobs said.

The release ends months of speculation surrounding the iPhone 3G’s release date and features.

Rogers Communications CEO Ted Rogers did announced in April his company would offer the iPhone but at the time would not release further details. Even yesterday, the company had not released details on either pricing or retail availability, though it did say the device would support Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and urn third-part applications already built. Rogers says the iPhone will work on its High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and GSM/EDGE networks.

Jobs said iPhone 2.0 will build in support for Microsoft Exchange, allowing enterprises to push e-mail, contacts and calendars from Exchange server to the iPhone.

The iPhone 2.0 platform includes an SDK (software developer kit), with native APIs (application programming interfaces) for developers to write mobile applications for the iPhone. Using the SDK, developers can write applications for location-based services, like photoblogging or to connect friends over social networks. The SDK’s rich-media layer provides resources for developing 3D games and writing programs for audio and video playback on the iPhone. The SDK also allows development of database and touch-based applications.

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The iPhone 2 platform will be available as a free download in July. Developers will be able to sell their third-party iPhone applications through Apple’s online App Store, which will be accessible by users in 62 countries.

Users will be able to download iPhone applications under 10 MB over cellular networks, by Wi-Fi or through iTunes. Applications over 10 MB will be available only through Wi-Fi or iTunes. Users will also be able to distribute applications by syncing iPhones.

The software platform also adds full contacts search, a calculator, improved language support and parental controls to for data access to iPhones, Jobs said.

“Some teenagers may not like this, but that’s the way it is going to have to be,” Jobs said.

The software platform will enable the entry of Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese and two forms of the Japanese language to iPhones. Users will also be able to view Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and Apple iWork (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) productivity documents on the iPhone.

With files from Greg Meckbach