Latest generation less expensive, supports 3G

SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Jobs may be the only chief executive in America who can announce a price cut and a passel of new features and have the entire media world, from the New York Times to tiny tech blogs, hanging on his every word.

Jobs addressed Apple’s annual conference for software developers in San Francisco on Monday morning, unveiling the second generation of the company’s iPhone.

It’s thinner and less expensive than the original (the entry-level model is just $199), and it supports high-speed 3G wireless connections. But AT&T is still the only mobile carrier to support the phone in the U.S. (Starting next month, Apple will roll out the phone in 70 foreign countries with a number of other carriers.)

Disney, where Jobs occupies a seat on the board, was an enthusiastic endorser of a key new feature for iPhone 2.0: the ability to integrate with Microsoft Exchange email servers. That makes the new iPhone a more credible rival to Research in Motion’s BlackBerry. Disney information technology senior VP Randy Brooks said the company had had a good experience beta-testing the new device. The new iPhone also includes GPS location-sensing technology.

The new phone’s zippier data speeds are also likely to make it a more effective device for viewing video — be they YouTube clips or TV shows and movies from Apple’s iTunes Store.

“Today is great news for video on the phone,” says Susan Cashen, VP of marketing for Silicon Valley-based Mywaves, which operates a video portal that delivers content from media companies like Playboy, Fox and CBS to cell phones. The original iPhone, she said, was designed for watching video only when the user was within range of a WiFi hot spot, such as a cafe or university campus. “It was a big downer from a consumer experience,” Cashen says. “But now 3G solves so many of those frustrations.”

Jobs said Monday that Apple had sold 6 million of the original iPhones, introduced last year. His goal is to sell 10 million in 2008.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more