Apple has a next-gen iPhone, and the price point is in the hands of Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs

Apple Inc.'s iPhone is selling like hotcakes, or more aptly perhaps like Nintendo Wiis, and racked up impressive sales of a million units a mere 74 days after its release on June 29th of this year.  The iPhone, TIME magazine's Invention of the Year, has helped Apple see its fastest quarterly growth in history -- and it has done all of this while operating on the EDGE network, which users have complained at times is painfully slow, in comparison to its brawnier 3G brethren.

Now Apple seems to be determined to give the public what they want, for once, and is looking to release a 3G iPhone late next year.

AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has confirmed early reports, breaking the news that a 3G iPhone at a meeting of the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, California.  He stated firmly that the phone will be released next year, when prompted for the time frame. 

The pricing is up in the air currently, and the man with the power in his hand to dictate the price is none other than Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, according to Stephenson.  He said, "[Jobs] will dictate what the price of the phone is."

Jobs announced his recent intentions of selling 10 million iPhones worldwide in 2008, which would give the iPhone a modest 1% foothold in the highly competitive mobile phone market.  Such sales would make the iPhone one of top smart phones.  Sales through September totaled 1.5 million.  Particularly telling should be the unreleased sales figures for November, including those over the weekend of "Black Friday" which traditionally sees frenzied electronics sales.  Worldwide sales will also factor heavily into the iPhones success in 2008, as the iPhone is being released in Britain, France and Germany already.

The benefits of 3G are blatantly obvious.  One of the device's biggest draws is its implementation of a full feature web-browser, and its ability to remotely connect to popular music service iTunes and download the newest songs.  However, both of these activities are highly dependent on network speed, and more speed certainly points to a better overall user experience.

The key obstacle Apple must overcome in releasing the 3G phone in 2008 is battery life.  Apple might be getting some more knocks from Greenpeace, as the 3G chip is a power-hungry little beast, which Jobs has described as a "real power hog", at a news conference in London.  Steve Jobs had even gone as far in September to say that battery life would be too steep an obstacle to the adoption of a faster network.  Now Apple seems to have reversed course and committed to beating this challenge.

Apple has stated that the battery life for the 3G enabled version will be expected to be at least 5 hours, still down from the current 8 hour EDGE network battery life.

Despite criticism for its locking policies, which have even lead to class action suits, Stephenson laughed off Verizon's recent campaign to open its network to any phone or software maker meeting its expectations, stating, "We are probably one of the most open networks in the world, not just the U.S." 

Perhaps AT&T is truly striving for such an objective, but coming from a network that until recently suspended its users right to free speech, it will likely strike many as a rather a comical statement for AT&T to brag of its openness.  Additionally the pressure is mounting on Apple and AT&T to offer the iPhone unlocked in the U.S. as only Britain the U.S. will sell locked iPhones (French and German law mandates unlocking).  It certainly seems as if U.S. and British customers are getting the short end of the stick, and some speculate that a small underground industry selling imported iPhones from France and Germany may emerge.

Nonetheless, despite Apple and AT&T's idiosyncrasies, many consumers will be thrilled to know that the 3G iPhone is coming in 2008, will have a decent battery life, and is not just another wishful rumor.  If Apple and AT&T make their policy giving their customers what they want they just might continue their torrid pace of iPhone sales and ambitious sales objectives.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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