iPhone: Cool yes, in Canada no

by Todd Maffin

It was one of the most anticipated product announcements in Apple's history. And now, the computer company that makes the iPod and Mac computers has added a new product that has the gadget industry buzzing. It's only a centimeter thick. And to look at it, it doesn't seem like much. A flat screen, a bit taller than a deck of cards, and just one Power button on the front.

But don't let Apple's new iPhone fool you. Judging from how quickly the stock market pushed Apple's stock up within minutes of its announcement this morning, the iPhone could become a big player in the technology sector.

The phone is operated using a touchscreen, meaning virtual buttons appear depending on what you're doing. The phone does more than make calls. It's also an iPod that can play up to 8 gigs of music or show photos. And it's an internet communicator that can browse full websites, rather than scaled-down versions most mobile phones access today. And, clearly aiming at the popular BlackBerry phone, the iPhone allows e-mail based on Push technology.

The phone itself is the product of 200 patents. That includes sensors to tell when you've held it up to your ear, so that the screen dims to save the battery. It can tell whether you're holding it lengthwise or height-wise, and automatically switch between landscape and portrait views for websites and photos.

But don't expect it to show up on Canadian store shelves soon. It won't be available in the U.S. until June. And in Europe until a year from now.