Steve Jobs couldn't have made it clearer had he stuck a spotlight and candles on it (or actually announced it): the new Apple iPhone 2.0 is on its way imminently. And it will offer more storage capacity as well as 3G when it's announced as expected over the next few weeks.

At Apple's iPod launch yesterday, while everyone concentrated on the hot new Apple iPod touch, widescreen iPod nano and hugely endowed iPod classic 160GB models, the repositioning of the iPod range and price-cutting on the original iPhone left a clear iPhone 2.0-shaped hole gaping.

Apple may have enraged nearly a million iPhone buyers with its surprise price-slashing move - cutting the cost of the 8GB iPhone by a staggering $200 (£100) to $399 (£200) - but there's an obvious explanation. Apple is preparing the ground for a new, improved model.

iPhone nano?

Some analysts have previously expressed scepticism that Apple would try to undercut the price of its premium-priced iPhone so soon after launch with a low-cost "iPhone nano". They certainly didn't expect a price cut in the iPhone itself, either, just over two months in from the launch. After yesterday's announcements by Jobs, they'll be looking at their forecasts again...

Of course, the folk at Apple are savvy enough to understand how to maximise revenue by reducing the price of a model ahead of an upgrade. Cut prices now on the 8GB iPhone and it will fly even faster than it has done out of US stores.

But what next for the iPhone?

Looking at the new iPod touch offers a whole heap of clues. The iPod touch is effectively an iPhone without the mobile phone functionality. It comes in 8GB and 16GB flavours; no room in the range for a 4GB iPod touch - at the same time as the less-popular 4GB iPhone was shunted out the door by Apple.

New iPhone

Let's take it as read that when the European iPhone launch announcement is made, Apple will try to wow us all over again. After all, can you believe Steve Jobs would simply stand up there to say "here's the same phone we launched a few months ago but now it's got a new O2/T-Mobile/Orange/Vodafone logo"? Something a bit more spectacular, to match the hype, will be in order.

The first element we're all looking for is 3G. Surely that will be there. And then there's the storage capacity - would Apple launch a new iPhone model with less than the top-range iPod touch? That would be a curious marketing decision, as a hot-selling lowish-priced Euro iPhone would just cannibalise sales from the iPod touch.

The logical conclusion is a new premium-priced iPhone addressing the 3G issues, and adding more storage - 16GB, 32GB or perhaps more. That would enable Apple to offer the iPhone 2.0 with a premium price tag. That would give the iPod touch far more room to sell itself as a top-end music player rather than as simply a cut-down iPhone.

Or perhaps, an iPhone nano will be launched at a low price point sooner than anyone expects, as Apple attempts to blow the mid-priced music phone opposition out of the water ...

The countdown to the European iPhone launch has already begun with the Mac Expo in Paris on 25 - 29 September the next date in the iPhone-watchers' calendar. Unless Steve Jobs pulls off another surprise before then...