Week in review: Apple steals the show

As two major tech conferences--CES and Macworld--compete for attention of gadget fans, Steve Jobs and iPhone steal the spotlight.

As two major tech conferences competed for the attention of the gadget-conscious world, it was Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs who stole the spotlight.

In one of the most anticipated gadget announcements in recent years, Jobs kicked off the Macworld Expo by introducing the "iPhone," a mobile device he promised will reinvent the cell phone. The Mac OS X-based iPhone is most akin to an iPod in design, but it enables users to listen to music, make phone calls, send text messages and e-mail, surf the Web, and take and upload photos--all using a wide touch screen and a single button.

Apple plans to make the device available in the United States in June, with a 4GB model going for $499 with a two-year service contract and an 8GB model with the same contract for $599.

Jobs also used his keynote to announce the Apple TV, a home-networking device he first mentioned at a product showcase in September 2006. The device lets users stream content from up to five computers and "autosync" content from iTunes to one computer.

Jobs said that through using iTunes and the iPod, people are already familiar with syncing data, and the Apple TV will be updated in much the same way. The $299 Intel chip-based device will have 720p high-definition video and a 40GB hard drive to store up to 50 hours of video. It will use 802.11n, the new draft Wi-Fi standard. Apple plans to begin taking orders Tuesday and start shipping the product in February.

While it's obvious that mobile-handset makers such as Sony Ericsson, Samsung Electronics, Motorola and LG Electronics, which all make music-playing cell phones, will see the iPhone as a threat, wireless operators such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, which have built their own virtual stores for downloading music, might also be threatened by the new product.

One company unhappy with at least one aspect of the iPhone announcement, Cisco Systems, filed a lawsuit. The networking-gear company accused Apple of infringing Cisco's iPhone trademark. The suit also accuses the iPod maker of using a front company to try to acquire rights to the name.

Cisco said in the complaint that Apple had attempted to get rights to the iPhone name several times, but after Cisco refused, Apple created a front company to try to acquire the rights another way, according to the lawsuit.

Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark in 2000 when it acquired Infogear, a small Redwood City, Calif., start-up that developed consumer devices enabling people to easily access the Internet without a PC.

The iPhone announcement lit up CNET News.com's TalkBack forum, with readers debating the value and innovation of some of the device's features. However, many readers seemed to agree that the new phone would make a big splash in the mobile market.

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