UPDATE: Apple just wrapped up its press conference announcing the upgraded iPhone. Better hardware, new operating system, and available on Sprint as well as AT&T and Verizon — but not the revolutionary iPhone 5 that some predicted. Available Oct. 14, wireless subscribers will be able to score a 64 gig version of the iPhone 4S for $399, a 32 GB model for $299, and 16 GB for $199. But the price for the 8 GB iPhone 4 has been cut to $99 while the 3GS is free. The 4S will look a lot like previous iPhones but will have a dual core processor that handles graphics about seven times faster — good news for gamers. It will be a world phone, capable of handling wireless calls transmitted via GSM or CDMA technologies. The camera has been upgraded: 8 megapixels with more sensitive light processing and face detection. The company also talked up the speed; just a half-second lag between shots. It will handle 1080p high-definition video with image stabilization. Apple’s also excited about a new feature called Siri: It will answer verbal inquiries about, say, the weather, stock prices, and restaurant reviews — and handle tasks such as making appointments in your calendar. As expected, the company said that it will launch its iCloud service on Oct. 12. No talk about Facebook integration. Investors apparently expected more: The value of Apple shares declined during the presentation and are down about 4.7% about an hour before the end of the trading day.
PREVIOUS 2:10 AM: Super-secretive Apple e-mailed “Let’s Talk iPhone” invitations to a 10 AM PT media event at its headquarters in Cupertino this morning. But it’s the first major product unveiling that won’t be introduced by Steve Jobs. Instead, his successor Tim Cook is expected to present what may be the iPhone 5 and/or the iPhone 4S and/or Apple’s latest iOS mobile software — iOS 5. According to The AP, the latest iPhone will include wireless device setup and content syncing, a better 8-megapixel camera, as well as email and Web-browsing apps. But the new smartphone isn’t expected to look much different from the iPhone 4, though it could be thinner and have a bigger screen. Deadline’s sibling site BGR.com says some industry watchers had hoped for a brand new teardrop-shaped iPhone 5 with larger display, insanely thin design, and more. Now it’s looking like Apple might be set to introduce an upgraded iPhone 4 instead. Bummer, right? Not if Apple’s iPhone 4S is a pretty substantial bump as opposed to just an incremental update, as many are speculating. Some even think Apple is set to unveil about a dozen various iPhone models this week, ranging from a modest update on the cheap to a teardrop-shaped overhaul that will feature a 4-inch display and a unibody aluminum design.
Many industry watchers are predicting a more powerful chip: Apple’s dual-core A5 processor, which is the same used in its current iPad for improved multitasking, opening apps, and gaming. A new service called iMessage will allow iOS 5 users to send text messages to each other over Wi-Fi or wireless carriers’ data networks. A folder called Newsstand will corral newspaper and magazine app subscriptions in one place to make it easier to find them. The new iPhone is also expected to include Apple’s forthcoming iCloud service, which will store content such as music, documents, apps and photos on Apple’s servers and let you access them wirelessly on numerous devices. AP says analysts believe Apple could trot out new iPods and updates to iTunes music software, which it usually does in the fall anyway. In any case, the new software will be available for Apple’s iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS and the two most recent generations of the iPod Touch.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi believes Apple’s success with the iPhone will continue to skyrocket. Choi estimated recently that Apple will ship 87 million iPhone units this year and 107 million during 2012, a 27% increase year-over-year. Apple’s growing number of carrier partners will be the primary catalyst for the growth, Choi said, noting that 228 wireless carriers offered the iPhone in 105 countries during the third quarter of this year. “There are still a handful of major carriers worldwide that have yet to carry the iPhone. Potential deals with Sprint (52.1M subscribers), T-Mobile (33.6M subscribers), China Mobile (628M subscribers) and other large international carriers pose a catalyst to fuel iPhone sales,” Choi wrote in a research note. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has an agreement with Apple to purchase more than $20 billion worth of iPhones over the next four years, or about 30 million iPhones.