Opinion: iPhone in the UK – overpriced, overhyped and over here!


Jon_small_new.jpgJonathan Weinberg writes…

So the iPhone is finally landing in Britain on November 9 – well, whoop di doo! I’m told Steve Jobs did his usual brain-washing-style spouting at yesterday’s launch – he even turned up live, presumably so it’d work better than via video – and regular readers will already know what I think about that from my column when the iPod Touch launched.

Timewise I make it seven and a bit weeks until the scrum kicks off, so roughly seven weeks from today until a load of morons begin camping out in front of O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores up and down the country in a bid to get their hands on this so-called “holy grail” of gadgetry.

I remain as unconvinced as ever on its merits as I was the day it was launched in America, when a similar gaggle of idiots – brains totally overtaken by Jobs’s sermons – paid $599 for a gizmo that was then reduced in price a few weeks later by nearly a third. Some would call them loyal customers who were badly insulted, I prefer… suckers!

And it’ll be the same again this side of the Atlantic with thousands doing the merry Apple dance without really thinking, a) do I need this? b) does it do much more than the bits I already have/use? and c) how much is it actually going to cost me?

If you want to know the answer to the last one, check out this excellent Tech Digest post which quotes upwards of £899 for a basic 18-month contract with O2. That’s £269 for the device and £35 a month for the minutes/text and internet bundle. But don’t be sad, you get WiFi from The Cloud for free – bargain!

I don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for those saps who will now spend hundreds buying themselves out of current contracts just so they can tell their friends they have an iPhone. There will be a fair few who do because not everyone is suddenly going to be coming to an end of their present deal at the end of October.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is about as stylish as it comes on the gadget front, I have fallen in love with the look of it too. But luckily I can see past that design mirage and can resist the temptation.

It’s a great music player, obviously, but reviews have said all along it’s not a
brilliant phone. Still, why would you want to call people when you can surf the internet!

As for the touchscreen, yes it’s nice, and one tech writer tells me it is the future – but so is nuclear war! They also said it’s PRETTY – which just about sums up those indoctrinated into the cause!

It has some good features, of that there is no doubt, but it’s not the world-beating coverged gadget most of us are longing for. There never will be one of those because companies rely on us spending fortunes on lots of single items.

That is precisely why the iPhone doesn’t have 80 or 120GB of storage – if it did, who would want to spend their money on a normal iPod to fill with their entire music collection. This launch is style over substance and a big case of keeping up with the flock, as unfortunately the majority simply buy into the hype thinking they need/want it.

There are other good music phones out there, none of which look as good I agree, but they all work well. There are certainly better phones out there and without 3G on board, how often do you really think you’d be WiFi’d up enough to surf the internet.

Apple have pulled off a good coup with O2 – it’s a far younger and funkier network than Vodafone. Most people see the latter as business-orientated and I use O2 for my Blackberry because their unlimited internet deals are very keenly priced.

That’s sure to help shift handsets to the young, many of whom will already be on O2 and will be allowed to easily switch. But grabbing other teenagers from the likes of T-Mobile and Orange may not be as easy as the bosses think. Certainly not in the short-term.

And I guess that is why we are seeing the iPhone on these shores before Christmas and not as many of us expected in early 2008. All the firms involved know they will get a far better initial spike in sales in that six week period leading up to December 25 so they can proclaim it as a massive success.

Let’s wait and see after that though, exactly what it sells until the spring. By
which time of course, they’ll probably be a 3G version with more storage on board – and knocked about £50 off the price.

If you ever wanted to take a lesson from a mistake made by our American friends – then learn from those who bought their iPhones early. Fools rush in, and that could yet prove a costly mistake.

To borrow a phrase from World World Two, the iPhone is now overpriced, overhyped and over here!

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Jonathan Weinberg
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