Apple iPhone – bad news for UK consumers, great news for eBay

Mobile phones, Top stories

Apple%20iphone.jpgThere’s no denying that it looks amazing, is crammed with innovative features and has sent Apple’s share price soaring. But I can’t help but feel a little bit let down by Apple.

I know they obviously can’t get the iPhone to market tomorrow, but making UK punters wait until Q4, which is consumer electronics speak for December, is going to cause both British punters and the UK phone industry a nightmare.

Here’s why

1 If Apple’s track record is anything to go by I’d take Q4 with a huge pinch of salt. The company have consistently missed product launches and I would bet a fair sum of money that we won’t see the phone in the UK until 2008.

2 They are only making ten million iPhones. To put that in some kind of perspective Nokia sold 40 million high-end mobiles last year and claims it will do at least double that this year. There is going to be huge demand which Apple simply won’t be able to meet.

3 Apple always plays at home. Apple has shown time and time again its local market (ie the US) is way more important to it than anywhere else in the world. If that first batch sells out in June (smart move btw as I reckon Cingular will be pre-registering buyers very soon – that gives them five months to pack them in) where do you think the next lot will be sold? Not in Europe. You only have to look at how Apple has sold its iPods to know that keeping UK punters hanging on is one its fortes – and in many ways creating hype shifts the products when they arrive too.

4 eBay is the real winner. Just imagine how much UK Apple obsessives are going to pay for a phone on eBay in June? Some will be getting US friends and relatives to get Cingular contracts and then having the iPhones shipped over. There will be a ton of iPhones on eBay, many won’t be legit and almost all will be overpriced.

5 Will people still spend money on smartphones this year? The iPhone is such a great product that I can imagine that many Europeans won’t upgrade their handsets in 2007 and will prefer to wait for its arrival in the UK.

The only sliver of comfort for Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others is that a year is a very long time in the mobile phone industry. Nokia’s N95 will be launched in a March and it is in many ways a real rival to the iPhone. It has a similar set of features (minus iTunes and the large storage), a much better camera and is HSDPA rather than Edge (so it has the potential for downloads and web browsing at speeds of up to six times faster than the iPhone).

There is a chance that a phone that is not 3G and only has 2.0 mega pixel camera might look rather old hat by January 2008. I doubt it though. Good luck Sony Ericsson, Nokia and HTC – your high-end phones have some real competition.

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