iphone-girlSAN FRANCISCO – Despite the inevitable rumors of a surprise appearance by Steve Jobs, the ailing Apple CEO did not take the stage Monday at Moscone West for the opening address of the World Wide Developers Conference. But that didn’t stop the earth from rumbling under the news that the innovative company is making deep price cuts in both software and hardware. Indeed, headlines around the world already are screaming $99 iPhone!

While a sub-$100 multi-faceted workhorse certainly warrants global attention, other price reductions are also notable as is the rollout of faster mobile Web connectivity and video-capture software for the iPhone.

The two surprise announcements of the day by Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller were that the existing low-end iPhone 3G, sporting 8 GB of memory, will now be available for $99, and that Apple’s next Mac OS X operating system, Snow Leopard, will cost $29.

The other iPhone model’s are staying the same price, at $199 and $299 with a 2-year AT&T contract, but the memory of each model would double to 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, as of June 19.

Apple also announced new MacBook Pro laptops with longer battery lives, faster processors and lower prices. The 13-inch screen laptop now starts at $1,200, and the 15-inch model sells for $1,700 and up, each $300 less than similar models. The company also lowered the price on its ultra-thin MacBook Air to $1,500 from $1,800.  The 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was unveiled in January, costs $2,500 and up.

As mentioned, Snow Leopard will now be $29 for individuals instead of the previous upgrade price of $129, but of much greater siginficance, especially to corporate communicators, was the announcement that the new OS will now include support for Microsoft Exchange-based e-mail servers, an enhancement that should greatly improve business-minded interest in Apple products.

The World Wide Developers Conference runs through June 12.