The iPhone is a multimedia, Internet-enabled mobile phone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. It has a multi-touch screen with virtual keyboard and buttons. The iPhone's functions include those of a camera phone and a portable media player ("iPod"), in addition to text messaging and visual voicemail. It also offers Internet services including e-mail, web browsing, and local Wi-Fi connectivity. It is a quad-band mobile phone that uses the GSM standard, hence has international capability. It supports the Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) technology for higher speed and reliability.
Following the success of iPod, Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007. The announcement was preceded by rumors and speculations that circulated for several months. The iPhone was introduced, first in the United States on June 29, 2007 with much media frenzy and then in the part of Europe in late 2007. It was named Time magazine's "Invention Of the Year" in 2007.
The genesis of the iPhone began with Apple CEO Steve Jobs's direction that Apple engineers investigate touch-screens. At the time he had been considering having Apple work on tablet PCs.
Comments made by Jobs in April 2003 at the "D: All Things Digital" executive conference expressed his belief that tablet PCs and traditional PDAs were not good choices as high-demand markets for Apple to enter, despite many requests made to him that Apple create another PDA. He did believe that cell phones were going to become important devices for portable information access.
On January 9, 2007, Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention, receiving substantial media attention, and on June 11, 2007 announced at the Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference that the iPhone would support third-party applications using the Safari engine on the device. Third-parties would create the Web 2.0 applications and users would access them via the Internet. On October 17, 2007 Apple announced that an iPhone software development kit would be made available in February 2008.
Spanish mobile operator Telefónica announced on their technology blog that they expect to be shipping 3G iPhones by May 2008.
The iPhone normally prevents access to its media player and web features unless it has also been activated as a phone with an authorized carrier. On July 3, 2007, Jon Lech Johansen reported on his blog that he had successfully bypassed this requirement and unlocked the iPhone's other features with a combination of custom software and modification of the iTunes binary. He published the software and offsets for others to use.
On November 21, 2007, T-Mobile announced that in Germany, it will sell the phone "unlocked" and without a T-Mobile contract for €999 (US$1,478) at its stores. This is due to litigation commenced against T-Mobile by their competitor Vodafone, which resulted in a preliminary injunction preventing T-Mobile from locking the SIM card to itself in Germany. The sale of the iPhone in this configuration will last until the court renders a decision.
Apple announced in their 2007 Q3 sales report and conference call that they sold 270,000 iPhones in the first 30 hours on launch weekend. AT&T reported 146,000 iPhones activated in the same time period. Apple anticipated selling their millionth iPhone in the first full quarter of availability, and 10 million by the end of fiscal 2008. On September 10, 2007, Apple announced sales of 1 million iPhones. This was followed by Apple's Q4 announcement on October 22, 2007 which put total iPhone sales at 1.39 million (Apple having sold 1.12 million in their 4th Quarter).
The iPhone allows conferencing, call holding, call merging, caller ID, and integration with other cellular network features and iPhone functions. For example, a playing song fades out when the user receives a call. Once the call is ended the music fades back in. Voice dialing is not supported by the iPhone.
The iPhone includes a Visual Voicemail feature allowing users to view a list of current voicemail messages on-screen without having to call into their voicemail. Unlike most other systems, messages can be listened to and deleted in a non-chronological order by choosing any message from an on-screen list. AT&T modified their voicemail infrastructure to accommodate this new feature designed by Apple.
A ringtone feature, introduced in the United States on September 5, 2007, but not yet available in all countries where the iPhone has been released, allows users to create custom ringtones from their purchased iTunes music for an additional fee, the same price of a song. The ringtones can be from 3 to 30 seconds in length of any part of a song, can include fading in and out, can pause from half a second to five seconds when looped, and never expire. All customizing can be done in iTunes, and the synced ringtones can also be used for alarms on the iPhone.
Apple has released a video explaining many of iPhone's features through a series of demonstrations.
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