Ben Smith has put on a black long-haired wig, a load of white foundation and some bright red lipstick to bring us these set of possibly fairly accurate Apple iPhone UK predictions.
You shouldn’t wish your life away, but I do wish it was tomorrow already (and not just because of the leftover pastries from the weekly client meeting) so to wile away the remaining few hours until Apple’s big announcement, I’ll don my Ã¢â‚¬ËœMystic Ben’ big pointy hat, buff my crystal balls and gaze deeply into them to bring you some wild guesswork predictions:
What: Yep, it’s the announcement of the UK iPhone as widely predicted, but not it’s a full launch tomorrow. Instead we’ll get the release schedule, the networks and retailers named. The Apple store in Regents Street will be closed during the announcement, but will re-open at 4pm with an iPhone display. Around midday the Apple logo will be hoisted over Buckingham Palace (possibly).
iPhone 2 / 3G: Nope, it will be the same EDGE-based model as launched in the US with 8GB of storage. The sound of narked tech journalists explaining that anything less than a 3G model won’t sell in Europe will be drowned out only by the sound of the baying crowds that gather at every potential point of retail.
Who: As widely predicted O2 will get the deal and announce immediate availability of a nationwide EDGE network as well as visual voicemail. Anyone with an EDGE-capable device will be confused by this Ã¢â‚¬Ëœannouncement’ as it’s been active in some areas for some time.
When: It will be available in mid-October. In the intervening time announcements for the remainder of the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfirst wave’ of European launches will be made in their respective countries.
Retailers: In addition to Apple and O2 retail locations, Carphone Warehouse, who neither sell carphones nor operate from warehouses, will be announced as a retailer. A small Apple shrine will be erected at each shop and Charles Dunstone will push a TalkTalk discounted offer as an additional benefit for the CPW customers. Anyone taking up that service will be desperately disappointed and spend a lot of time discussing the failings of the UK’s local-loop unbundling arrangement with Ã¢â‚¬ËœKelvin’ who will be somewhere in Bangalore [actually that’s not a prediction – more a statement of fact].
Price: The iPhone will be £269 with an 18-month contract from O2. The Bluetooth head set will be £79 and the dual dock will be £35.
Tariffs: O2 will launch three 18-month tariffs exclusively for the iPhone. Priced at £35, £55 and £75 per month they’ll offer 400, 800 and 1200 minutes respectively and will be matched with bundles of hundreds of texts. The text bundles will be largely unused though as people struggle with the touch-screen keyboard. All three tariffs will include Ã¢â‚¬Ëœunlimited data’. Starting midday Tuesday, O2 will roll out a programme of training to its retail staff explaining the term Ã¢â‚¬Ëœunlimited data’. Many will need counselling support. A selection of add-ons will be available to supplement the iPhone tariffs, but these will be reserved for the dedicated tariffs and existing Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbolt ons’ will not be available.
Problems: There will be a number of problems at launch, including the O2 website which will fail under the initial peak demand. Number porting will be slow and unreliable, as all the networks struggle with the sudden rush of requests. O2 will be more prepared than most, but their efforts will be largely negated by the other networks who will be unable to process the load and unwilling to expend much extra effort to cumulatively off-load a couple of hundred thousand users.
Surprises: […and this is a really long-shot] The launch won’t be UK-only and the O2 / CPW deal will also extend to the Republic of Ireland – there will be rejoicing in the streets although launch will be after the UK.
What next (short term): TelefÃƒÂ³nica shares will drop after some initial wobbles as the market realises that revenue sharing with Apple means less money for the same work / risk. Things will get worse in Q1 2008 as Apple announces the US-availability of a 3G-based iPhone and plans for a European launch late 2008. This time there’ll be no early-adopter rebates (for customers or TelefÃƒÂ³nica’s investors who will wonder if the expense of nationwide EDGE roll-out for less than a year’s use was worthwhile when they already had a 3G infrastructure).
What next (way, way off): With the exception of Canada, Australia and New Zealand iPhones won’t be launched any further until a 2nd or 3rd generation is launched. Apple will resist customising the hardware for specific markets so official launches in the Asian markets, particularly China and Japan won’t happen in the next couple of years.
[Note: Ã¢â‚¬ËœMystic Ben’ has no inside information- in fact he barely even reads the papers. Your credibility may be at risk if you rely on any of this. Ben does not accept any responsibility for inaccuracies and won’t take kindly to being told he was wrong tomorrow because he’s just guessing really. Your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other loan secured on it]