IMPDA Comment – iPhone

With the launch of the iPhone been and gone the IMPDA questions the support for indies from O2 over the new wonder handset, and the whole ethos behind the restrictive selling practices.
 
Well what a damp squib the iphone launch was. One person it’s reported had a refund as the thing would not even turn on, and the expected queues? Well you would get more people at a bus stop. In addition the reaction from the public was dismay, not necessarily with the iphone, but with the price and having to pay over £269 for the handset and then the min line rental of £35 on top, not exactly a cheap yearly experience.  And what of the phone itself?.  

Well Apple’s own ipod, which looks identical to the iphone has a bigger hard drive for a start, and by the reluctance of Apple to say how many they sold on day 1 claiming it is commercially sensitive information I have a feeling that In fact what they mean is we did not sell anything like the number we expected but are too embarrassed to say so.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a great concept easy to use and as a user interface years ahead of anything else, which makes you wonder why the other manufacturers have not gone this route as well, instead of sticking with clunky buttons and small screens. This mobile is in effect a combination of the ipod and a mobile slapped into one but without a lot of the functionality of the ipod and as a user experience the freshest thing on the market.  

Will I get one?  Not for a whole lorry load of Jaffa Cakes I won’t, not when I cannot choose the network I want and that is not O2.  Is it worth the price? Well if you have to pay £269 plus the £35 min line rental that’s a combined total of £899 over 18 months even with the fantastic user interface, then my own opinion is no its not worth it.  

There are other phones out there which come close like the N95 which has a better camera, it’s quicker on the internet and proper Bluetooth, and you can change the battery unlike the iphone. For the concept and user interface, screen and operation 10/10 but for a phone with bad internet, poor Bluetooth, no battery change and the fact that a lot of pages on the internet cannot be viewed as the iphone cannot cope with flash and java 2/10.  In any case what gives Apple the right to render the phone as junk after the update is installed on an unlocked model in the UK, when by law in france they have to allow the phone to be unlocked after a certain period.

The iphone, is the revolutionary product but with the sales outlets and distribution of the prehistoric.  O2 teams up with CPW for sales WOW obviously they are not going to sell the quantity they need just through their own O2 shops, what a surprise, what a way to sell loads of phones I don’t think, how restrictive, do apple really want to sell millions or just a few, then why not let all dealers sell it! Talk about restricting competition.

Here is the situation that if it would make you laugh if it was not so serious, Authorised O2 dealers who go through the hoops to get O2 authorised and then team up and get an account with a Disty  cannot sell this phone, yet Joe Bloggs off the street can sign up as an affiliate to E2save (part of CPW) and sell this phone immediately and get a commission, so where we ask O2 where is the support for your dealers, why wont you let all authorised O2 dealers sell it!  Sounds like a restrictive practice to me.

And what of the unlocked iPhones, well O2 struck back at dealers selling the iphone unofficially. A spokesman said: ‘It is clearly the pond life who would get involved in this. Oh really, well O2 we have to tell you that those dealers are not pond life they are decent dealers giving what the customers want, and if Apple was not so stupid in stopping dealers selling on any network, then it would not be necissary, which shows the shortmindedness of Apple.  The customers want the phone BUT on the network THEY want NOT what Apple dictate.

I have had a number of customers ask me about unlocking, and as we don’t unlock directly they were advised to contact Faisel of Fonedoctors.  One thing that gets my goat is the nerve of the networks in the charges they ask to unlock a phone.  I don’t mean just customers of the network who want to unlock their existing phone, but those phones which are now out of contract and so the property of the customer.  

They give it to their sister who wants to use say an Orange sim card.  One example of this is that the sister contacts 3 and gets quoted £150 to unlock it.  WHY!  I would agree that an existing customer should be charged if they want it unlocked, but after the contract is ended then the network should give the unlock code for free or at least at a reasonable price and without trying to make it hard for the customer by making excuses not to unlock, after all its not the networks property anymore.  I would challenge the networks and I mean all of them not just 3 to justify a price of £150 + to unlock a phone.  Like the banks that have been successfully challenged to justify their bank charges, let the networks justify such high prices for what takes about 30 seconds to do.  It’s almost like being mugged, when asked to pay such prices, its no wonder why people go to unlocking companies.

The networks really are missing out on the unlocking requests and could really make additional revenue, but not at prices like that, it’s almost tant amount to theft.  In fact the person wanting it unlocked would be better off getting a brand new sim free mobile.  So lets hope that unlocking companies continue to provide this valuable and increasing service.