Apple ( AAPL) opened its introduction to the third-generation iPhone operating system by announcing an enhanced App Store where free applications will remain free -- SIMS 3, an FM radio and even a Bluetooth blood sugar meter. You gotta be kidding. Apple invites the press to its Cupertino campus to hear about the next-gen iPhone, and that's what the excitement's about?
In fairness, the new iPhones will sport some very nice new features. OS 3.0 suggests that Apple has listened to iPhone owners and added a variety of features from other smartphones. ESPN has created a new video player in its app that selects and streams the best quality video depending on your connection. The FM radio is nice, although Nokia ( NOK) already has that in many of its handsets. Also, the latest OS has MMS messaging, which Research in Motion's ( RIMM) BlackBerries and other phones already have. Plus, the latest offering from Apple will feature peer-to-peer connectivity (which means you won't need to go through a separate Wi-Fi router) and "push" notifications (like so many other devices) where you'll be notified by a sound or vibration when a new instant message arrives. I like the idea of universal search and "shake to shuffle" too. And the feature that most iPhone users have been asking for -- a simple cut-copy-and-paste function -- will finally be a reality. Apple also updated the formerly somewhat awkward-to-perform forward/delete e-mail functions. Voice memo capabilities are a nice addition, too. It looks like Apple is very aware of, and possibly slightly worried about, Palm's ( PALM) upcoming Pre smartphone. That could be the first design to give Apple a big run for its money.
In today's presentation, Apple actually acknowledged one of the Pre's most important capabilities -- multitasking. That means that the Pre will be able to run more than one application at the same time. Apple said the iPhone doesn't multitask because that affects overall battery life. And I find that my iPhone 3G has acceptable battery life only when I turn off nearly everything (like push e-mail, Wi-Fi, etc.). I wonder how Palm does it. Apple's iPhone 3 will be a terrific, well-received device just like the previous two models. The major message we can take away from today's preview is that Apple's mobile platform is very flexible, but that it's also maturing platform. There were lots of added features announced for the wireless, mini-tablet computer today that appear evolutionary, not revolutionary.