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Man, iHate iPhone

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Apple's new way to talk about nothing.

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Golly, the new Apple (AAPL) iPhone 3G is nifty.

The ads proclaim, "Twice as fast. Half the price."

That's the lesson for buyers of this gizmo and just about any hot device: Unless you've got to be the first on your block to have one, wait for the second generation because prices will come down and performance will go up.

The new iPhone 3G rolls out today in 22 nations. In the U.S., the device goes on sale at 8 a.m. in every time zone; in Tokyo, buyers stood on lines all night to get their hands on the "must-have" device. For the record, the world's first iPhone 3G was sold at one minute past midnight local time in Auckland, New Zealand; a historic marker will no doubt be erected at the store soon.

In the U.S., the 8GB model costs about $199 and the 16GB version goes for $299. The first versions sold for $399 and $499 respectively.

The new Apple iPhone, which includes both an iPod and Internet access, is aimed at the gut of the Blackberry, a product of Research in Motion (RIMM).

The iPhone 3G runs third-generation wireless technology that – gasp – gives users Global Positioning System capability. The device also runs Microsoft Exchange (MSFT) for corporate e-mail and the widescreen makes it easier to check your messages. The ballyhoo says the new iPhone comes with a "desktop-class browser."

Apple plans to offer the iPhone in about 70 countries later this year, compared with the approximately 135 where the Blackberry is now in use. Still, analysts expect Apple to sell about 4 million iPhone 3Gs this quarter.

But the new iPhone still lags behind some Japanese wireless equipment that offers digital TV and an "electronic wallet" for making payments at stores or vending machines equipped with special electronic readers. Think of the convenience if you lose the silly thing!

The first iPhone debuted in the U.S. on June 29, 2007. Users soon griped about slow browsing speeds and problems with the virtual keyboard. Some said the activation process was difficult. Nevertheless, Apple sold its millionth iPhone in September 2007.

Last year, Verizon (VZ) introduced the Voyager, made by LG Electronics. Some dubbed it "The Equalizer" because it was specifically designed to counter the iPhone. There's also a cheaper version, the Venus. Both come with 2-megapixel cameras, high-speed wireless connections for music and video downloads and a slot for 8GB of extra memory. Prices range from about $100 to $400.

Sprint Nextel (S) countered with Samsung's Instinct handset - which was quickly dubbed the "iPhone killer."

Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T (T), which provides service for the iPhone, control about 90% of the U.S. mobile-phone infrastructure. They've used that clout to maintain tight control of their networks. When you sign up, you can use only those services the carrier provides - the so-called "walled garden." This drives some users nuts.

For perspective, a little history: Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone in 1876. The bathtub as we know it arrived about 1866. So it's often said that the golden age of Western Civilization spanned the years 1866 to 1876, because you could soak in a hot bath and the damn phone wouldn't ring.

There never was a golden age of public transportation, but think how much sweeter life would be if the person next to you on the train or bus didn't yap endlessly about nothing on a cell phone as you're working the crossword puzzle.

Thanks for nothing, Steve Jobs.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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