Through a trio of commercials, Apple has revealed that Friday, June 29th will be the release date of the iPhone. The ads demonstrated some of the iPhone's unique combination of capabilities, including watching video, a "glass" (key-free) keyboard, rich email, and integration with Google Maps and local results (see "iPhone Seeks to Redefine the Mobile Phone," 2007-01-15) . While each of these capabilities is available on existing smartphones and other devices, no phone combines all of them, nor offers a library of music and video anywhere as extensive as Apple's iTunes Store.
It's unclear what Apple means by the June 29th release date: that the iPhone will arrive on your doorstep if you've ordered one or that you will be able to go to an Apple Store or an AT&T (formerly Cingular) corporate store to obtain one. AT&T has not yet started to accept orders for the iPhone, but I would imagine that will occur soon. AT&T recently changed the signage and other details at its many corporate stores to shed the Cingular logo and name in preparation for the iPhone launch, the company said a few weeks ago.
The advertisements confirm that an iPhone requires a two-year commitment through AT&T. Recent rumors suggested that a prepaid option would be available, but that seemed unlikely given the premium nature of the phone and the exclusivity that results from it.
The iPhone will appear in two models: a 4 GB unit for $500 and an 8 GB model for $600. The iPhone includes Wi-Fi and EDGE support, the latter being a cell data standard that runs two to three times faster than a dial-up modem, and is widely available. Pricing for Wi-Fi and EDGE plans hasn't yet been announced.
T-Mobile offers the closest competition for such a package, with $30 per month providing unlimited use of EDGE data everywhere and Wi-Fi connections at over 7,000 T-Mobile Wi-Fi hot spots in the United States.