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Thu 11 Jan 2007 10:59 AM

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iPhone unveiled

Apple finally took the wraps off its long-awaited iPod-mobile combination this week, with CEO Steve Jobs promising that the device would reinvent the phone itself.

The Mac OS X-based phone combines the music and video features of Apple’s iPod, with voice and data capabilities. Further, it includes a new user-interface technology, called Multi-Touch, which allows users to navigate device functions using their fingertips instead of the traditional keyboard. Apple plans to build on Multi-Touch’s functionality with further software releases.

“Today, we’re going to show you a software breakthrough, software that’s five years ahead of what’s on any other phone,” Jobs told delegates at the firm’s Macworld exhibition in San Francisco, US, where he unveiled the device.

The iPhone includes a function to search for a store on Google maps and then call the location with a single click. Users can also see who has sent voice mails and skip to the message they want to listen to.

Rival device makers Palm and Research in Motion both saw their shares fall this week, with analysts believing the iPhone can impact on sales of their Treo and BlackBerry devices respectively. Goldman Sachs Group described the iPhone as “raising the bar” for high-end devices.

The 11.6mm-thick iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen and features quad-band GSM and Edge phone functionality with support for WiFi and Bluetooth.

Apple said it plans to launch the iPhone in the US by June at a cost of between US$500 and US$600.

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