iPhone 4 paves the way for mobile video conferencing

But Apple’s support of mobile video conferencing could help spur adoption of the technology, given the company’s considerable influence.

Apple is trying to tighten the links between the iPhone and its iPad tablet, which came out April 3. It is releasing a version of its iBooks eReading application for the iPhone, which means people could buy an eBook from Apple on either device and read it on either one as well.

That compatibility could incite more universities and iPhone-toting college students to turn to the iPad as an eReader.

The new iPhone 4 also has a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life (up to seven hours of talk time—an improvement over five hours on the last model), and thinner design. It will cost $199 or $299 in the U.S. with a two-year AT&T contract, depending on the capacity. The iPhone 3GS, which debuted last year, still will be available, for $99.

The new phone runs the latest version of Apple’s mobile software, now called iOS4, which Apple unveiled in April to offer such features as the ability to operate more than one program at a time. Users of older iPhones and iPod Touch devices can get iOS4 as a free download, though not all features will work on the older devices.

Although the iPhone 4 has arrived, for some people the wait continues as Apple sprints to keep up with fierce demand for its latest gadget.

From Tokyo to San Francisco, some stores started selling out of Apple’s newest iPhone just hours after it went on sale June 24. Some would-be buyers walked away disappointed; tensions grew at Apple stores that hadn’t run out.

It seems even Apple was surprised by the number of people who wanted to snap up the fourth version of the iPhone. More than 600,000 had rushed to pre-order iPhones on the first day they were available, prompting Apple and its exclusive wireless partner in the U.S., AT&T, to stop taking orders for pickup or shipment by the June 24 launch. On Apple’s web site, new orders weren’t promised for delivery until July 14.

Those who didn’t order in advance lined up outside Apple stores in the hopes of snagging one on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said demand was “off the charts,” and that the company was working hard to get phones into customers’ hands as quickly as possible.

Some stores sold out completely within hours. Brian Marshall, an analyst for Gleacher & Co., said Apple is having a hard time getting enough of the new custom parts for the iPhone 4, such as its new higher-resolution screen. Apple has said the white iPhone it plans to produce has been more challenging than expected and won’t be available until late July. Only black models went on sale June 24.

Laura Ascione

"(Required)" indicates required fields