Mobile World Congress: Did the mainstream media notice?

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O2: I’d like to lease a ‘new iPad’ — can you help me out?

I don’t want to get another iPad from Vodafone on the same or similar long term deal I’ve got with my iPad 2.

I’m happy with it and the service. The deal was simple: £26/month for 24 months. I knew it would come back and annoy the hell out of me last year when I signed up for it back on July 27th.

It’s annoying because I no longer need the iPad 2.

I now need the iPad 3. Or the ‘new iPad’.

Thanks to the spectacularly inefficient manner in which the mobile operators are configured, I need to mess around managing my own flipping equipment logistics. It’s a real arse.

So do I KEEP the iPad 2 with the Vodafone contract? Do I sell it, keep the contract (that’s got 1.5 years left to run) and put the SIM in the new iPad? Do I buy a new iPad? Or, what? Do I have to sell the existing one privately, take that cash and put it toward a new iPad? Perhaps I should keep the old iPad 2 for use at home despite the fact we’ve already got one?

It’s quite an annoyance.

I don’t know why the mobile operators haven’t caught on to this. It’s yet another stupid, stupid example of the senior industry executives focusing on box shifting and short-term contract sales. They’re not looking at the bigger picture at all.

I’m not asking for anything free. Indeed, I’m positively offering to pay more. I just don’t want to have to manage the logistics of messing around with price plans and devices. Get me the new one. Send it to me on the 16th. I don’t want to queue. I don’t want to do anything other than pay you to sort it all out. Exactly the same way I do with all the other companies I buy from smartly. Take the pain away, Mr Operator.

Which brings me to O2. A little while ago they introduced an iPhone leasing option (scroll down on this page for more details). It’s utter genius. £55 a month gets you an iPhone 4S 16GB. This includes a decent price plan, full insurance and the cost of the device. There’s no up-front payment. It’s a 12 month lease and at the end of this, you either give the device back or get a new one. Job done. £55 x 12 months is £660. That sounds expensive. But when you consider that the device itself costs £499, if you add on £14 a month for insurance (£168) and say £25 per month for a reasonable price plan (£300), your total outlay is £967 for a year. Yes you’d be able to resell the iPhone for perhaps £200-£250 but that still means you’d end up spending around £767. There are, however, some philosophical issues that a lot of people understandably care about. Lots of people like to own things, still.

Me? It’s a service. It’s a commodity. It’s fundamentally disposable.

So I really like O2’s leasing concept. I like the fire-and-forget viewpoint. I like the idea of accessing the best and latest technology without being saddled with incredibly useless long term commitments that guarantees my currently brilliant gizmos will be long in the tooth once I’ve finished the contract.

I’m not afraid of commitment. Indeed I’d be delighted to sign up to a Vodafone, O2, Three (or whoever) 5-year deal whereby I pay a fixed monthly fee and get the latest iPhone and iPad sent to me when they’re released, on the proviso I send the old ones back.

I think, therefore, that I’ve decided against actually buying a ‘new iPad’ in the short term. I reckon I’ll get one from the operator — especially if O2 decide to lease them.

What about you? Will you be upgrading?

Update: It seems O2 won’t be able to lease me an iPad 3 (in the short term anyway) — check this tweet reply from them.


  1. Each to there own Ewan, but I seem boggled by the prospect of a yearly iPad upgrade. The social, economic, and technological factors surrounding the device push towards multi year ownership for tablets.

    To the tech savvy, it is cost on top of a smartphone, and although they may take the plunge to escape traditional computers, I would think it is quite a painful “luxury” purchase, as opposed to the no brainer of smartphone ownership, were the rapid evolution of an omnipresent convergence device has encapsulated those even beyond the “geek” audience

    The iPad also hasn’t felt limited through hardware, more software, and Apple’s generous (in comparison to some android OEM’s) software upgrade policy only supports multi year ownership

    Certainly something ripe for debate, the economics of tablets are completely in flux. I do take heed of what you said in your other article about business people requiring the latest accessory. It just seems a bit silly that this model seems to be applied to a platform where software limitations reduce the need for rapid hardware progress.

  2. I accept your viewpoint Stuart — on the face of it, there’s no need to immediately upgrade. The ‘game’ of smartphone and tablet ownership has been changed not just by Apple but the other industrial players, desperate to keep revenues flowing.

  3. Ok. Good post! A few points:

    1) how good is the insurance? This is critical. In my experience anything not supplied through an operator is total rubbish — there is no incentive whatsoever to meet your claim. I’ve never ever had a claim denied or delayed by an operator who needs you to be able to keep talking and texting and therefore is happy to accept a lower return.

    2) It’s a function of time. I want to click a button or make a 2 minute call to get the new equipment. I don’t want to spend any more time thinking, processing, evaluating, shopping around and so on.

    You’re right though. It’s all about your own personal preference isn’t it?


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