Live: Join us for Apple’s iPhone event

Welcome to a running live commentary on the iPhone launch. we had some technical difficulties: Notably our Cover It Live set-up blew up so we had to improvise. Refresh the page. we didn’t have time to put it on autopilot.

Here we go.

1 p.m. ET: Tim Cook is out. He reiterates that he loves Apple and that it’s his first product launch as CEO. Via GDGT: “it a privilege of a lifetime” to work at Apple.

He welcomes folks to the room—Apple’s town hall. keep in mind that Cook’s performance will be closely watched.

1:05 p.m. Cook talks retail stores and looks pretty stoked overall. He’s coming off humble, committed and solid. He starts reviewing four product groups starting with OS Lion. It’s also worth noting that Cook has a smaller invite-only venue here.

1:10 p.m. Note that Cook is basically recapping things we already know. Notably that the MacBook Air is kicking some butt in the sales department. MacBook Pro and iMac are top selling notebook and desktop in the U.S. ok, Tim move along. we know Apple is outpacing the PC market.

1:12 p.m. At retail, Cook says Macs are selling about a quarter of all PCs in the store. Overall there are 60 million Apple users. That’s heady growth.

1:13 p.m. Cook moves on to music. here Cook talks about the iPod. It’s no. 1 and has market share above 70 percent “for a very long time”. Apple has sold 300 million iPods. Hmm wonder if this is a swan song.

1:16 p.m. Cook talks up iTunes, no. 1 music store. 200 songs in library. Tops basically every music retailer out there. iPhone 4 accounts for half of all iPhones. Note the stray enterprise reference here. 93 percent of Fortune 500 testing or deploying the iPhone. Jobs would haven’t said that.

1:18 p.m.: here comes the usual Apple better than everyone slide. Customer satisfaction. JD Edwards loves the iPhone. Cook rightly says that all phones will be smartphones.

1:20 p.m. Apple is showing customer satisfaction ratings at 95 percent. Cook says every state has an iPad deployment underway in education. That gets to Apple’s core strength.

1:21 p.m. Let’s get real. up to this point, the Cook talk is largely commercial. Cook said that 80 percent of top hospitals in U.S. testing out iPads. Side-note to that statement: It was just a year or so ago that rival vendors were telling me the iPad was screwed in healthcare because it was too big to fit in a lab coat. Hmm.

1:24 p.m. now we’re getting into the app store talk. Cook hands off to Scott Forstall right after noting there are 250 million iOS devices shipped. iOS crushes Android, RIM and others in installed base. These are July comScore stats. I’m sure Google will beg to differ.

1:27 p.m. Forstall said there are 500,000 apps in the App Store and 140,000 of them are for the iPad. That stat is staggering and illustrates why Android tablets haven’t been able to hang. Customers have downloaded 18 billion apps. Not too shabby.

1:30 p.m. now we’re getting into some meet. iOS 5. Apple has paid developers more than $3 billion. There’s also a new app called Cards. create and mail from iPhone or iPod touch—Does this mean the Touch is still around? The cards do look pretty sweet. Apple prints on high quality paper, delivers via mail. $2.99 in U.S. this app seems like a small thing, but bet it delivers a lot of incremental revenue.

1:33 p.m. a lot of iOS recap coming on. 100,000 develoeprs have been seeded. Notifications are there in iMessage. Push to devices. Camera is confirmed with short cut. Twitter integration. you can also edit photos on device. Safari has been updated with Reader.

1:35 p.m. OK here’s a rant. We’re 35 minutes into this thing and it’s basically a replay of WWDC. That’s fine and all, but let’s get on with it already. Mail updates such as indentations are nice and all, but we need to move on. PC Free is in and this puppy is live Oct. 12.

1:38 p.m. now we’re getting into iCloud. That’s a long run up to arguably the most important launch in Apple’s history. no exaggeration there. as I noted the other day, this iCloud launch is critical. if Apple can’t figure out this cloud thing it will be at a long-term disadvantage. a third of apps are purchased on iOS devices. Syncing is a bitch. iTunes, PhotoStream will be iCloud enabled.

1:40 p.m. There’s a lot of iCloud review going on. Daily backups to iOS. That’s nice and all, but so? Docs, pages et al are in the cloud.

1:42 p.m. OK here’s something interesting. Apple is launching a Family and Friends app. It’s basically FourSquare. Look out. However, Ping was also going to be this huge social network too. Oops. Scratch that. FourSquare is just fine.

1:44 p.m. while this Friends and Family thing may not kill FourSquare, Apple does have more of a clue about location sharing than others—say Google! Cue outlined how location sharing can be set up in blocks of time. End of day location sharing stops. Privacy controls are simple. Sure beats thumbing through settings and turning things off in Android. But I digress—again.

1:46 p.m. here comes the iTunes Match review—keep in mind that it’s yet another review. Apple could have just replayed WWDC. iTunes scans and matches your songs for faster downloading.

1:47 p.m. during this video demo it’s worth noting how much the Internet is blowing up. CNET News struggled—Engadget blew for a bit. GDGT is holding up well as is Verge (This is my Next).

1:49 p.m. Phil Schiller has hit the stage and he’s kicking off the iPod discussion. iPod Nano gets a bigger icon screen that’s multitouch. and bonus for runners. There’s no need for sensors or devices when you take off with your Nano. That’s a huge plus. I refrained from all that sensor stuff. I’ll probably still refrain given I don’t want the Nano reminding me I’m slow as hell.

Schiller continues to talk accessories and watchbands. now the Nano has 16 clock faces. Hmm. That’s handy. Sort of. iPod nano has 7 colors in 8GB for $129. 16GB is $149. they are available today.

1:53 p.m. iPod Touch is most popular game player. iMessage and Game Center on iPod touch. Nintendo’s DS franchise may jsut be screwed. iPod touch is $199 for 8GB, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64 GB.

1:55 p.m. now the iPhone discussion is up. Meet the iPhone 4S. inside it’s new with the A5 chip. Retina display the same. In a nutshell, it’s the same phone with new engine. 7X faster than previous version. all things being equal I’d rather have the faster network. 4G anyone? There’s also an Infinity Blade game demo. New version of the game is available Dec. 1. That’s nice, but if you want games the iPod touch may be your option.

2 p.m. Back to the phone. iPhone 4S will offer 8 hours of 3G talk time and 6 hours of browsing. 9 on Wi-Fi. Not bad a all. Schiller said that Apple has been working on call quality. The iPhone 4s can switch between two antennas to transmit and receive. Here’s what’s notable: Apple is arguing that its download speeds—2X faster than iPhone 4—and maximum data speeds under HSDPA are faster than 4G devices out there. The iPhone 4S is also GSM and CDMA—biggest thing to note there is Apple’s supply chain can benefit from more simplicity. so the iPhone 4S is a world phone.

2:06 p.m. now Apple is on the camera. It’s 8 megapixels at 3264 x 2448. There’s a 5 lens elements. The argument is that the iPhone is now your point and shoot camera and has face detection and autowhite balance.

2:09 p.m. Apple is taking it to Android cameras. The joke is that you can get a cup of coffee in between taking pictures with the Droid Bionic. The big question for me is whether the camera is really a competitive differentiator. I’m not so sure. Although it all sounds nice. on the video side there’s 1080p realtime video image stabilization.

2:12 p.m. during another video demonstration—the equivalent of tech’s guitar solos—it doesn’t appear that there’s an iPhone 5 in the works. Just based on the timing and pacing of the presentation. Schiller said the iPhone 4S will be the best camera and video recorder they have used.

2:14 p.m. and here comes the voice hooks. here comes the Assistant feature. The Siri acquisition pays off here. The promise: Talk to your device and it’ll just do things like book appointments etc. Siri gives the forecast when you ask what the weather is. this could be a killer feature and spur a few upgrades.

2:18 p.m. this Siri can do a lot and respond to you nicely. it’ll even tell you if you need a raincoat. The implementation and integration is critical. I’m sure that Apple fans will fall even further in love with their iPhones.

2:25 p.m. you know what makes Siri so interesting. The Wolfram Alpha integration as well as ability to search for definitions. College kids will buy into this device wholesale.

2:36 p.m. now it’s time to drop the neutron bomb on handsets. The iPhone 4S will go for $199 for a 16GB version ; $299 for 32 GB; and $399 for a 64GB version. The iPhone 4 goes to $99 and the iPhone 3GS is now free. Sprint is added. Pre-orders start Oct. 7 and its’ available Oct. 14.

2:38 p.m. Cook is back up and reviewing the announcements. See our great Debate in a few minutes on whether the latest iPhone is a dream device.

Apple is holding it’s ’Let’s talk iPhone’ event on October 4, and as usual we will be here providing you with live analysis of announcements as they happen!

Several familiar faces from ZDNet will be joining me in providing minute-by-minute commentary and analysis of Apple’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event as it happens.

See also: Great Debate: is iPhone 5 your dream phone? | ‘Emerging market’ iPhone | Sprint’s iPhone bet | iCloud more strategic | Feature wish list | CNET: Full coverage of iPhone event