June 10, 2009, 12:00 AM

The rumors are over: the new iPhone has arrived

The iPhone 3G S boasts improved speed and performance—up to twice as fast as the iPhone 3G—and a myriad of new features. The iPhone has been the driver behind soaring smartphone sales—and more smartphone use is driving mobile web browsing and m-commerce.

The much-anticipated next generation iPhone is here. Apple Inc. has introduced the iPhone 3G S, which it describes as the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet, packed with new features including improved speed and performance-up to twice as fast as iPhone 3G-longer battery life, a high-quality 3-megapixel autofocus camera, video recording, digital compass, and hands-free voice control.

The iPhone 3G S includes the new iPhone OS 3.0 mobile operating system with more than 100 new features, including cut-copy-paste, MMS multimedia messaging, phone-wide search, landscape keyboard and more. Consumers using the most recent version of the mobile device, the iPhone 3G, on June 17 can download the 3.0 version of the operating system via iTunes at no charge.

The iPhone 3G S will be available June 19, priced at $199 for the 16-gigabyte model and $299 for the new 32-gigabyte version with a new two-year service contract with mobile carrier AT&T.; What might drive the ever-growing base of iPhone users even faster is the price of the iPhone 3G: This version of the hardware now is available for $99 for the 8GB model, $100 less than its previous price. Hitting a price point less than $100 is a significant milestone in the high-end smartphone market.

Smartphone sales have been soaring in the past two years since the introduction of the iPhone, and m-commerce experts say the advanced features of smartphones, especially the easier and richer mobile web browsing experience compared with other mobile phones, are driving more consumers and retailers to mobile commerce.

“The new iPhone 3G S is another excellent win for m-commerce,” says Kevin Ranford, director of web marketing at 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., a mobile commerce pioneer that offers an m-commerce site, mobile apps for iPhones and BlackBerrys, and text message marketing. “The mobile shopping experience will have double the web browsing speed of the previous iPhone and push notifications for messaging.”

Ranford adds that the new $99 price for the standard iPhone 3G will get more conventional phone owners to chuck their flip-phones in favor of the high-end smartphone, which in turn will drive even more consumers to the mobile web and mobile shopping.

“This new attractive price point for an iPhone will help drive m-commerce growth as more consumers will be able to afford the device than may have been able to in the past,” he says. “Increasing distribution of iPhones will help specifically grow use of the mobile web and mobile apps. Assuming other devices follow suit, this move to lower device prices will substantially help fuel m-commerce growth.”

Apple is No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. 1-800-Flowers.com is No. 31. The online florist automatically redirects mobile shoppers who enter the standard URL to a site optimized for their phones. It also maintains the mobile URL 1800Flowers.mobi.

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