iPhone Gets a Due Date
Always careful to orchestrate news of product rollouts on its own terms, Apple this weekend set a specific date on the launch of the iPhone: June 29. The news was conveyed in three television ads that featured lots of iPhone eye candy, with close-up images of the device's Web surfing, video playback and photo browsing capabilities.
The date for the much-anticipated iPhone launch has been set for June 29. Apple tipped the date Sunday with a trio of new television ads, which are also available for viewing on its Web site.
If soon-to-be iPhone owners have been antsy for news of the June release date, there's a good chance they'll start drooling when they see the new ads, which feature close-up views of the iPhone playing high-quality video, surfing the Web, browsing through album covers, family photos, and a seafood restaurant search that shows off results on a handy street map.
"The iPhones will be on sale in AT&T company-owned resale stores, and they'll be available in Apple retail stores as well as on their online store," John Kampfe, a spokesperson for AT&T, told MacNewsWorld.
Apple confirmed the date but declined to comment on details.
The iPhone will only be available via AT&T (formerly Cingular) service plans, and as Apple's iPhone video ads note, the use of the iPhone will require a minimum two-year activation plan.
Special Launch Events?
Apple may launch the iPhone with a special event rather than during regular events at which it has kicked off new products in the past, such as its Worldwide Developers Conference, going on next week in San Francisco. Will Apple and AT&T launch some pre-Fourth of July weekend fireworks?
"We're not disclosing any other plans at this point beyond what we've said already," Kampfe noted.
However, Apple already milked a great deal of hype when it unveiled the iPhone back in January at Macworld. A second event might be overkill.
"To be honest, I don't think they need to do a whole lot to drive additional attention. There's a lot of hunger around this already," Charles Golvin, a principal analyst with Forrester Research, told MacNewsWorld.
Apple and AT&T may hold a launch event at the Apple Store in New York to help drive mass media coverage, Golvin noted. They may also let the iPhone go on sale at midnight the night before, he speculated.
Buying in Waves
"I still see two waves of uptake, and the first is the Apple fan boys, the people who are devoted to all things Apple ... and there are plenty of them," Golvin explained. These Apple customers have been paying careful attention to their cellular service contracts and have been making sure they are off of competitors' contracts in advance of the iPhone launch.
"The more interesting piece will be the second wave, those who are very interested, who maybe already have a BlackJack or Motorola Q -- or something in the same space that's more consumer-friendly than a BlackBerry," Golvin noted. "We'll see if they're still willing pay the premium [for an iPhone]."
The Price Factor
The iPhone will initially come in two versions -- a 4 GB model for US$499 and an 8 GB model for $599. The steep price tag could put quite a heavy burden on sales; however, when adding the price of a new iPod to that of a cell phone, the total could be close enough to justify the expense to some consumers.
After the initial wave of sales to Apple aficionados, the price may well hold strong.
"There's so much attention paid on the price point, but if you go back to the initial price of the Motorola Razr, when Cingular also had an exclusive on it, it was $499, so this is not the first phone to be priced at this level," Golvin explained. "And they were able to hold that price point for quite a while."