At 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT), Apple (s AAPL) executives will take to the Town Hall stage at the company’s campus in Cupertino, Calif. to at long last “talk iPhone.” It’s been 16 months since the last iPhone was introduced, and it’s pretty clear Apple is about to take the wraps off a new device and possibly a new voice-activated personal assistant service. What will it look like? What specs will it have? What other non-iPhone things will they talk about? Follow along with us here for live, up-to-the-minute updates beginning at 10 a.m. PDT.
10:00 Hi everyone, we’re going to start in a few minutes, they just told us.
10:01 New CEO Tim Cook comes on stage to lots of applause.
10:02 My first product launch since being named CEO, he says. “I love Apple. I consider it the privilege of a lifetime to have worked here for almost 14 years and I am very excited about this new role.”
10:03 He’s talking about the history of this room, Town Hall. They launched the original iPod here. And last year they launched MacBook Air here. Today “will remind you about the uniqueness of this company.”
10:04 He’s starting with updates. Momentum in retail stores: last weekend he says they opened two new stores in China. Both have already set new records, Cook says. Largest store in Asia, had 100,000 visitors opening weekend.
10:06 More talk about the glass staircases in the China and Hong Kong stores. They sold more Macs on the opening day of the Hong Kong store than they ever had, according to Cook. And now it’s time for a marketing video about the stores.
10:09 There are six stores in China now, with “lots more to come,” he promises.
10:10 Now he’s going to update us on the four different product areas. Mac is up first.
10:11 6 million copies of OS X Lion downloaded by now. 80 percent more than Snow Leopard at the same stage, he says. On the MacBook Air: “Our competitors have been trying to copy” it, but they’re finding it’s not easy, says Cook.
10:12 Approaching 60 million Mac users worldwide, Cook says. He uses NPD data to say that 23 percent of all computers sold in a store are Macs. “Still 77 percent of people who are still buying something else,” an “incredibly high ceiling, a lot to go,” he says.
10:13 Now he’s talking about iPod. 78 percent market share right now in the U.S. They’ve sold 300 million iPods worldwide.
10:15 “The MP3 market is a mature market, but the iPod is still a large and important market for Apple.”
10:16 Now onto iPhone: 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPhone. He’s also talking up the customer satisfaction surveys that list the iPhone as the top.
10:17 Despite this success and momentum, the iPhone has 5 percent share of the worldwide market for handsets, as in not just smartphones. “We look at the entire market because we believe all handsets will become smartphones.”
10:20 Next up: iPad. He’s talking up iPad in schools and how they’re a good fit for students and teachers, as well as commercial pilots, hospitals, etc.
10:20 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or using iPads already, he says.
10:21 “Despite everybody and their brother trying to compete with iPad, 3 out of 4 of tablets sold in U.S. are an iPa
d,” he says. The total iOS device number just passed 250 million, he adds.
10:23 Scott Forstall, head of iOS, is up on stage to talk iOS. He says 43 percent of devices are iOS.
10:23 500,000 apps on the App Store, with 140,000 are iPad specific, he said. 18 billion apps downloaded total so far, at a rate of 1 billion per month. Apple paid more than $3 billion to developers so far.
10:24 First new product, an iOS app called Cards. You can make your own cards right on your phone, and Apple will print it out and send to you.
10:25 Oh nice, they’ll send it for you too. If you mail it in the U.S. you’ll get a push notification to your phone when it arrives at the destination. $2.99 to mail in the U.S., and $4.99 internationally.
10:28 iOS 5 recap right now. He’s talking about iMessage, Reminders, integration of Twitter, Newsstand, etc.
10:35 iOS 5 coming October 12.
10:38 Eddie Cue is talking about Photostream, which pushes photos from your iPhone to your iPad, Mac, Apple TV. Also iTunes in the cloud and documents in the cloud.
10:39 He’s talking about backup in iCloud, Contacts, Mail, and more.
10:41 New app called Find My Friends, will locate any of your friends who have it turned on. You can also create a temporary way to turn it on for a specific amount of time so it turns off right after you’re done using it.
10:43 He’s talking about how iTunes Match works. Instead of putting every song in your library in the cloud, Apple will scan and upload only the songs that Apple doesn’t already have in iTunes. Then you can stream any song, album or playlist. Costs $24.99 a year.
10:47 Phil Schiller, head of marketing, is now up on stage to talk iPod. “We still love music, we’re still making great iPods,” he says. There are 4 iPods but he’s going to talk about 2 of them, he says. iPod nano gets different navigation, bigger icons, just swipe between the icons.
10:49 He’s focusing on the running and walking apps, and new clock faces on it you can choose from for those who have those iPod nano watch accessories.
7 colors, cheaper this time around: 16GB $149, 8Gb $129. Available today, he says.
10:51 iPod Touch is up now. Says it will get iOS 5. Talking it up as a gaming platform.
10:53 iPod Touch will start $199 for 8GB version. Also comes in white now. The other iPods not getting updated, but still for sale this holiday, Schiller says.
10:55 iPhone 4S it is. “Looks the same, but inside it’s all new.” A5 chip inside, Apple designed dual core processor. Twice as fast, he says.
10:56 Aaand the demos begin. First up is Epic Games president is showing off the graphics the iPhone 4S will display with a new game.
11:00 Schiller is back. He says the battery life will be 8 hour of talk time. 6 hours of 3G talk time, 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and 40 hours of listening to music, he claims.
11:03 New antenna system that will switch between the receiving and transmitting antennas intelligently. Will make it faster, he says. With 5.8 Mbps upload and 14.8 Mbps download speeds, he says it’s the same as the phones that call themselves 4G. But he won’t get into a debate about that. iPhone 4S a world phone: has GSM and CDMA both.
11:03 Camera also getting an update, as expected. 8 megapixel sensor. Should be 60 percent more pixels, Schiller says.
11:06 Backside illumination will bring in 73 percent more light, for better lowlight photos. There are five lenses (one more than the iPhone 4), f/2.4 aperture on the 4S. A5 chip will help do better white balance and finding faces in a shot.
11:07 He says it will take 1.1 second to take the first photo and half a second for the second. He managed to add a little dig at the Droid Bionic in there too. Now he’s showing us examples of new iPhone photos.
11:09 The camera will also record 1080p HD video. Has video image stabilization to make videos less shaky.
11:14 Here comes the voice assistant app. “We have limited ability” to talk to technology right now, “Such a letdown,” says Schiller. We should be able to ask a simple question and get a regular response. It’s called Siri, your “intelligent assistant.” Siri is a company Apple acquired last year. He’s about to show us a demo, but warns us it’s still in beta mode.
11:16 Scott Forstall showing us Siri. Hold down home button for a couple seconds and it turns out. Can ask normal questions, “What’s the weather like today?” and she talks back “Here’s the forecast for today” and pops up the weather app on the phone.
11:17 This is pretty cool: You can ask a question any way you want, and even ask conceptual questions like “will I need a raincoat?” It still finds and gives you an answer and the weather report. You can tell Siri to set an alarm for you on the phone, ask what time it is in a certain place, ask about stock performance.
11:18 Oooh Yelp integration means you can ask for a restaurant of a certain type, place or cuisine and it will fetch the ratings and suggestions for you. Nice.
11:19 You can also ask Siri to read you a text message you got, you can reply, and you can ask if you have openings on your calendar.
11:21 The reminders app is also integrated with Siri, so you can tell it to set a reminder for you. Can also ask Siri to search the web for you. Apple is working with Wolfram Alpha, so you can look up the definition in WA’s dictionary just by asking Siri. The service finds the answer and replies to you.
11:26 Forstall is done with Siri, and Schiller is back up. Schiller says Siri is “the coolest new feature of iPhone 4S.” He mentions that Siri also does dictation. There’s a Siri button you click in certain apps (he didn’t specify), it’ll listen to what’s being said it’ll be typed and sent to your phone right away.
11:29 Another marketing video interlude.
11:36 Available October 14 in U.S., Canada, Austrailia, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Also on Sprint now in the U.S. (He mentioned Sprint almost like an afterthought. No further detail or elaboration.)
11:37 Cook is back on stage, recapping what we’ve seen today. He’s emphasizing the integration of all these new services and products we saw today.
And that’s it. He thanks us for being here and heads off stage.
11:40 Thanks everyone for joining us, and especially for hanging in there despite our technical difficulties. Be sure to come back to GigaOM throughout the day for more analysis of what we’ve seen here today!