Apple expanded their presence in the mobile market today, albeit with a unique twist. At a media event in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the 8GB iPhone will now sell for $399 - a 33% drop from its initial price of $599. The 4GB model will be discontinued.
Apple also rolled out a new line of iPods and also announced the opening of the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. The store will enable "computerless" browsing and shopping of the complete iTunes catalog from iPhone as well as the newly unveiled iPod Touch.
The twist is that access to the music store will only be enabled when a WiFi connection is active. Unlike mobile music stores from Sprint, Verizon, and Helio, which provide over the air shopping via 3G EV-DO cellular networks, Apple's store will not work over a cellular connection. iPhone is currently an AT&T exclusive and is limited to 2.5G EDGE data access - it's not yet compatible with the carrier's 3G services.
Apple also announced a forthcoming custom ringtone feature that will allow consumers to create and purchase ringtones for 99 cents each. A portion of the iTunes catalog - approximately 600,000 songs at launch - will be ringtone compatible. Users can select a snippet of an available song and add custom fades and other edits to tailor their new ringtone to their liking. The service will be available via the iTunes store.
Finally, Apple announced a partnership with Starbucks. iPhone and iPod Touch-wielding consumers will be able to browse the iTunes store for free on Starbucks' WiFi networks (though it doesn't seem they'll get free access to the rest of the Web), and also gain access to the music selections currently playing at a given Starbucks location.
Okay, them's the facts ... Stay tuned for some thoughts and analysis ... And, hopefully, the ensuing mobile music wars ...
Read more from Apple's website here.