San Francisco: Apple’s international launch of iPhone 3G began in New Zealand and Japan on Friday, as a freshly-opened “App Store” tempted fans with independently created mini-programs for the coveted devices.
A man displays the back of Apple’s 3G iPhone during its launch sale in Hong Kong today. Apple has described the new model as twice as fast and half as expensive as the original.
New Zealanders were the first to be able to buy the much-hyped iPhone 3G when three stores opened just after midnight, and Tokyo followed shortly afterward. Sales of iPhone 3G models begin later in the day in 21 other countries.
On the eve of the iPhone 3G launch, Apple opened an App Store stocked with hip, fun or functional programs crafted by third-party developers. The shop, accessible through Apple’s online iTunes store, opened with more than 500 mini-programs, many of them free.
Mini-applications include games, photo-sharing and mobile versions of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and eBay.
Game makers are capitalizing on touch-screen and motion-sensing technology in iPhones. “The touch and tilt controls are natural and easy to learn, making gaming even more inviting, creative and rewarding,” said Sega product development vice president David Cobb.
Applications crafted for iPhones will also work on iPod Touch models, which are basically iPhones without the telephone capabilities. Brian Greenstone, president of computer game maker Pangea Software, called the iPhone platform “truly ground-breaking.”
Software creators are allowed to set their own prices, as long as figures end with 99 cents. Apple keeps 30% of sales prices to pay for operating the store. Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Philip Schiller said the iPhone “represents a new software platform for developers, combining the most advanced mobile operating system, sophisticated developer tools and a breakthrough way for developers to wirelessly sell and distribute their applications.”
Can customize programs
Apple released an iPhone kit to outside developers in March in an effort to make the hot devices even more popular and wrest market share from smart phone market powerhouse BlackBerry.
The kit lets programmers customize programs for the touch-screen mobile devices combining telephone, video, music, and Internet connectivity. Apple vets software creations before making them available exclusively at the App Store.
Apple will sell iPhone 3G models in the United States for $199 and $299, depending on memory capacity. The original eight-gigabyte iPhone was priced at $600 when it debuted in June last year.
IPhone 3G prices in some countries will be as low as $1.57 provided customers purchase multi-year service plans that translate into lucrative long-term revenue streams for carriers.
Apple is continuing its strategy of locking iPhones exclusively to one telecom carrier per country. Apple and numerous technology websites have posted online tips on how to navigate Friday’s anticipated buying frenzy.