Steve's Macworld keynote: What you need to know about the iPhone and more

2006 was a first — Microsoft was way more interesting than Apple. Microsoft had Xbox 360, Windows Vista and Zune. All Apple had were slightly better Macs, slightly better iPods, and slightly better iTunes. (There was something about an Intel transition, but that was a been-there, done-that for long-time Apple fans and uninteresting to everyone else.)

2007 is a different story, and Apple’s put on its dancing shoes. Yeah, baby! Here’s what you need to know from Steve’s Macworld keynote:

The iPods are doing great, and iTunes is doing great. Apple’s sold over 2 billion songs, and is selling over 5 million songs a day. Apple’s is now the 5th-largest music retailer, ahead of Amazon and trailing Target. Steve noted that the Zune is sucking pretty hard.

Steve announced AppleTV, which was the thing he called iTV when he previewed it last year. In short, it’s a combination iPod/AirPort Express for your TV. It does 720p video, has a 40 GB hard drive, does 802.11 b/g/n, and has all the ins and outs you’d expect. It’s priced at $299 and ships in February.

And finally, iPhone. You can now officially forget about “iTunes” running on crappy cell phones — Apple has reinvented the mobile phone. My prediction is that the iPhone platform will eclipse Apple’s desktops and laptops as its primary consumer platform by the end of the decade.

Apple iPhone

Hardware-wise, the iPhone is a mobile device that connected as hell, with quad-band GSM/EDGE, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), and Bluetooth (2.0 with EDR). It’s got a large-ish (3.5″), high-resolution (320×480 @ 160 ppi), widescreen, touchscreen display, making it Apple’s first device since the Newton to have one. 🙂 The iPhone is the first device I know of to support multi-touch, allowing more sophisticated UI gestures. Finally, it’s also got a 2.0 megapixel camera.

Software-wise, the iPhone runs a flavor of Mac OS X. It uses an enhanced-for-mobile version of Safari for browsing, using that same engine to support rich HTML email. It supports widgets, and includes an excellent implementation of Google Maps. Apple has partnered with Yahoo! to provide free IMAP email.

The iPhone will set you back $599 (there’s one with half the memory at $499, but that seems pointless) with a 2-year contract with Cingular (which will be Apple’s exclusive partner for the iPhone in the U.S.) and ships in June. It’ll be available in Q4’07 in Europe, and in 2008 in Asia.