A strange thing happened in the United Kingdom this morning.
A lot of normal people breathed a sign of relief.
A sigh of excitement.
I’ve been speaking to a lot of normobs recently. I’ve been getting out on the mean streets of London and I’ve been canvassing opinion about the iPhone and the rest of the marketplace. (Granted, in the last two weeks I’ve not made it North of Watford so my experiences are highly focused around the South — and London in particular)
What’s fascinating is that there’s a significant pent-up demand for iPhones.
Talk to the analysts and most of them will tell you — flippantly (and highly inaccurately) — that ‘whoever wanted an iPhone has bought one already’. That is, my dear analyst friends, what we in the real world call, ATBP. (“A Total Bollocks Position“)
Changing networks is a total unmitigated nightmare. A TOTAL nightmare. Something that any sane individual wouldn’t attempt unless they were really, really, REALLY serious. Most normobs in the UK flirt with leaving their network. They flirt because that’s built straight into the model.
It’s so integrated that every network has their own flirting department. You and I know it as ‘retentions’. They’re the people behind the ‘press 5 if you’re thinking of leaving us’ option on your network’s customer services line. It’s them that you call in the heat of the moment — when you’ve seen red, for whatever reason, usually some mistake or misunderstanding — or a series of tiny mistakes that outrage you to the point of reaching for the matches as you pass the operator’s local shop.
The flirting chappies and ladies in the retentions department turn even the seasoned pro-normob into a gibbering bundle of happiness in a few minutes.
You phone up telling them you’re leaving ‘to get that iPhone’ and they’ve got the patter nailed to the ground, ready to floor you.
Would you like 500 extra minutes? A month? For… for free?
AND we can give you this really good phone that, you know Sir, it’s better than the iPhone. [Insert a description of some bollocks handset that will SORT OF keep you quiet for a while. It’s going to have to keep you quiet because it comes with a 24-month contract.]
It’s even worse when you walk into your local Carphone Warehouse. You can see the pain on the face of the chap when you tell him you’re going to move networks and you DON’T have your transfer code. Because he has to sit there whilst you spend 45 minutes on the phone trying to tell the flirters at your mobile operator that you want to leave.
Of course, they ask what you’re leaving for — in terms of price plan.
So you tell them.
They then beat it.
And… the Carphone Warehouse chap, head in hands, just hopes you’ll hang in there.
But you’re sitting thinking that it would be a lot easier if you just said yes to your existing operator… and they did promise to send the bright shiny new handset next-day. And they said it was better! Better than the iPhone!
That, my dear analyst friends, is why there is still a TON of demand for the iPhone from Orange. And from Vodafone, T-Mobile and 3UK.
People can’t stand changing operators. They’ve tried it. It’s a mind-fluck. It’s not something your average normob wants to do. Ever.
Most normobs I’ve met who’ve been after an iPhone (but weren’t willing to swap to o2) simply put it out of their mind. They’d flirt with the concept now and again. But changing was just too difficult a prospect.
This morning a whole raft of £35/month contract customers — who’ve previously been sitting staring at their bollocks Nokia / Sony Ericsson / Samsung / Windows Mobile Piece of Shit — are now free to contemplate a treat.
Say what you like about the iPhone, it’s like a plasma or flat-panel TV.
Everybody loved them. Everybody wanted one. A few of your friends finally splashed the cash and got one. Then, before you know it, the prices came down to acceptable levels and woosh… you want one. And what’s more — shit — you can actually *afford* one.
And don’t think your average normob is going to give a toss about the unlimited data policy that Orange is offering. I’ve seen the hulabalooooo and it’s irrelevant to the average chap and girl on the street.
They don’t want to get screwed. And what’s more, they won’t. Orange simply cannot afford a full page wailer in the Daily Mail about some poor guy being billed £4k for watching the Top Gear series on his iPhone.
The average normob doesn’t give a toss about the price of the device. Neither did the 1 million o2 iPhone customers.
As long as it’s roughly 30-quid a month, it doesn’t matter.
It’s an iPhone.
It’s like a plasma TV. Tens of thousands of Orange customers will shortly be thinking they deserve a bit of tech luvin’ and they’ll splash out. Mark my words.
So happy iPhone day to all the Orange UK customers.
And if you’re a handset manufacturer operating in the United Kingdom making devices that retail around the £35-45/month contract mark, take out your projections spreadsheet and knock another few percentage points off your target audience, you won’t be getting them back any time soon.