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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 22:45 GMT
Cheers and tears for Apple's iPhone
By Elizabeth Biddlecombe
BBC News, San Francisco

Apple boss Steve Jobs has unveiled the long-awaited iPhone at the Macworld Expo in the US.

The announcement was greeted with plenty of enthusiasm by many - but not all.

Apple boss Steve Jobs unveils the Apple iPhone
Apple boss Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at the Macworld conference

As soon as the lights went up and the last strains of James Brown faded out you could hear Mac fans all around expressing their wonder at, and lust for, Apple's new iPhone.

The largely white and male crowd had just spent the last two hours gasping, clapping, and cheering Steve Jobs at what felt like at times the Church of Apple, otherwise known as the keynote of this year's Macworld conference.

This year Jobs forsook the gimmick used previously where the biggest announcement was saved until the end, prefaced by the words, "one last thing".

Instead he started by saying: "We are going to make some history together today."

He then spent the first 40 minutes giving updates on the sales of Apple's various products and launching the "Apple TV" TV-computer gateway device.

The next hour and 20 minutes were lavished on the iPhone, which Jobs billed as three revolutionary products in one - an iPod, a phone and an internet communication device.

The crowd whooped with excitement as soon as the word "phone" was mentioned.

He said he'd been looking forward to this day for the last two and a half years and Apple fans and technology watchers worldwide collectively exhaled now that the rumours were finally substantiated.

But the crowd's wonder only increased as the Apple Inc head showed off the phone's touch-screen interface, its integration between different applications and features such as Google Maps.

'Delivers promise'

One attendee, Chuck Joiner, hadn't expected to hear the phone announced today, predicting it would be unveiled later in the year.

The producer and host of two Mac-oriented podcasts ("MacVoices" and "MacNotables") is a veteran Macworld attendee, having been to 18 of the events.

"If there was a credit card slot right now I'd buy one," he said after the keynote. "It delivers the promise.

I think this product will do as much for the phone of the future as the iPod has for the music device of now
Steve Wozniak
Apple co-founder

"It does not forget the fact that it's a phone but also takes it to the next level. It makes it easy to make phone calls but it also gives you full internet access. ITunes and having the photo capability is just icing on the cake," he enthused.

"The interface is beautiful," he said. "You sometimes just look at their products and think, 'That's exactly the way it should work, why does no one else do this as well as Apple does?'"

Luckily for him, Mr Joiner is already a Cingular subscriber, for this device will only be available on that network.

The US mobile operator, now part of AT&T has nearly 59 million subscribers but there are 230 million mobile subscribers in the US.

Founder's tears

Outside the building, BBC News Online happened upon Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, who was leaving the keynote on his Segway transportation device.

Wozniak conceded that the exclusive deal with Cingular might delay the product's uptake in the market.

"But I don't think too much. In the long run, it's not that big an issue," he said.

Mr Wozniak said he was in tears at the announcement.

Steve Jobs with boss of phone network Cingular, Stan Sigman
Steve Jobs with the boss of phone network Cingular, Stan Sigman

"I like products that are really designed the way that people want them and because of that I just am sick of every PDA device I ever try," he told BBC News Online.

"I've tried all the smartphones [and] every time I am just so disgusted with using them. It's not the enjoyable experience that my laptop is. It's largely just [things like] email looking right, the web looking right, simple human things."

Wozniak said he agreed with Jobs' description of this announcement as a revolution.

"I think this product will do as much for the phone of the future as the iPod has for the music device of now," he said.

'Technology sceptic'

Another conference attendee was a little more sceptical.

Bert Fraher is a creative producer and interactive designer at medical device company, Medtronic, and is at Macworld to refresh his knowledge of Flash, the development environment.

He wasn't surprised that the phone was finally announced, acknowledging that it's been in the works for a few years.

But Fraher wants to wait and see how the iPhone is accepted by the market and how subsequent versions look, before pronouncing its success a certainty.

"I'm a technology sceptic," he said.

His personal wish list included the announcement of a Mac computer that runs high definition DVDs, preferably on the Blu-ray standard, though he conceded that this was unlikely to happen.

'Better hopes'

Mr Fraher is a Mac enthusiast but he expressed disapproval of Apple's involvement in backdating stock options.

"I was disappointed. [My] company [is] guided by a mission statement that pervades not only the products they make but the ethics amongst the corporate culture, " he said. "I really had better hopes for Apple."

He wasn't the only one to express disapproval of the tech and style icon at this year's Macworld.

On Monday night, Greenpeace activists protested against Apple's use of toxic chemicals in its products at the Apple store in San Francisco, just five minutes away from the Moscone Center where the conference is being held.

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