Apple 3G iPhone update and Analyst opinions

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As many of my readers know I bought a significant amount of Apple (AAPL) Shares a few weeks ago in anticipation of their new 3G iPhone roll out and the bright growth prospects I believe the company has. Their new iPhone is to be released later this week and a lot of buzz has built up around the global launch. Initial reviews of the phones, pricing plans and stock are all in and the outlook is mostly positive. From the on-line WSJ, here is a summary of their detailed review of the new 3G iPhone and how it compares to the existing iPhone and iTouch (the graphic is great). Following the reviews I have included some analyst quotes I have found from various reputable sources. Have you bought AAPL stock yet?

Apple Inc.’s iPhone has been the world’s most influential smart phone since its debut a year ago, widely hailed for its beauty and functionality. It was a true hand-held computer that raised the bar for all its competitors. But that first iPhone had two big drawbacks: It was expensive, and it couldn’t access the fastest cellular-phone networks. On Friday, Apple is launching a second-generation iPhone, called the iPhone 3G, which addresses both of those problems, while retaining the look and feel of the first model’s hardware and software.

The base version of the new iPhone costs $199 — half the $399 price of its predecessor; the higher-capacity version is now $299, down from $499. Yet, this new iPhone is much, much faster at fetching data over cellphone networks because it uses a speedy cellular technology called 3G. And it now sports a GPS chip for better location sensing. The company also is rolling out the second generation of its iPhone operating system, with some nice new features, including wireless synchronization with corporate email, calendars and address books. And there’s a new online store for third-party iPhone programs that Apple hopes will make the device usable for a wider variety of tasks, including gaming and productivity applications. This new software and store will also be available on older iPhones, through a free upgrade.

The basic software is similar. The biggest addition for some users will be full compatibility with Microsoft’s widely used Exchange ActiveSync service, which many corporations use. In my tests, I was able to connect the iPhone 3G to my company’s Exchange servers in a few minutes, and my corporate email, calendar and contacts were replicated on the phone. Any changes I made on the iPhone were reflected almost instantly in Microsoft Outlook on my company PC, and vice versa. Email was pushed to the phone as soon as it was received on the company’s servers. Third-party software: If things go as Apple hopes, third-party software distributed through their App Store could be the biggest attraction to the new iPhone 3G, and to upgraded older iPhones. By some estimates, there will be hundreds of these programs, some free and some paid, almost immediately.

While AT&T now has 3G networks in 280 U.S. cities, and aims to be in 350 by year end, it is converting its cellphone towers gradually, so not all areas of included cities have 3G coverage. The new iPhone falls back to EDGE speeds when 3G isn’t present. Also, as in the U.S. and in many other countries, the iPhone is still tied to a single exclusive carrier, whose coverage or rate plans may be unacceptable to some. [This was most recently experienced in Canda where Telco Rogers communications was the iPhone carrier]

Battery life: Apple claims that over 3G, the new iPhone can get five hours of talk time, or five hours of Internet use. Talk time is twice as long on the older EDGE network, and Internet time is an hour better with Wi-Fi. In tests, the iPhone 3G’s battery was drained much more quickly in a typical day of use than the battery on the original iPhone, due to the higher power demands of 3G networks. This is an especially significant problem because, unlike most other smart phones, the iPhone has a sealed battery that can’t be replaced with a spare.

Bottom line: If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it’s worth getting the new hardware.

You can read the full review at WSJ. For more detailed reviews check out this article at Top Stocks.

Recent Analyst, Media and Technolgy Experts Opnions:

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple will sell 6.3 million iPhones in the U.S. in 2008, or about 35% of the touch-screen phone market. Barrons

In the end, every successful computing device is ultimately a software “platform,” a vehicle for the programs that give it its true value. This is where the real iPhone will stand out, and judging from the interest among the 4,000 third-party developers who have already signed up to write for it, it’s got a good headstart. Fortune

iPhone 3G: The Sequel, is worth the wait. It’s cheaper, faster and a lot friendlier for business. Apple’s blockbuster smartphone already had nifty features such as visual voicemail, a splendid built-in video iPod and the best mobile Web browser I’ve ever used. With GPS newly added to the mix, this handheld marvel has no equal among consumer-oriented smartphones USA today

Apple could get close to $1 billion in revenue over the weekend if it sells 2 million units. And that’s not counting any revenue the company brings in from sales at its online “App Store.” Top Stocks

The iPhone is a small part of Apple’s business — only 5 percent of its overall sales in the latest quarter. Macintosh computers and iPods typically generate 75 percent of Apple’s revenue. But iPhones are hugely profitable. By some estimates, Apple stands to make between $100 and $400 on each new iPhone sold, depending on the model and wireless carrier. Investors have put down big bets on Apple’s plans, pushing the company’s shares up from $120 in March to around $180 today, mostly on anticipation that Apple will blow through its sales projections for the iPhone. Put another way, though, anything short of a blowout could slam Apple’s notoriously volatile stock. “To keep the stock price up, they’d have to do well, very well, amid high expec
tations — it’s a very tough stock,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research. Although Apple has less than 1 percent of the overall cell phone market, it has 19.2 percent share in U.S. smart phones, which pack more functions. That put it ahead of Palm, which had 13.4 percent, but far behind RIM’s 44.5 percent, according to research firm IDC. AP news

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