Category: apple

O2 to sell the iPhone?

Several credible sources are today reporting that O2 have signed a contract with Apple to distribute the iPhone in Europe. I hope that includes O2 Ireland too!

Vodafone would have seemed a more likely distributor seeing as they have a network in more European countries than O2. O2 must have made it far more attractive for Apple to say that they were chosen over Vodafone. It will be interesting now to watch who Apple partners with in the countries where O2 have no presence.

The iPhone debuted in the US last week and in its first three days is reputed to have sold over 1m units – a runaway success by any measure!

This incredible success is a measure of Apple’s successful marketing machine, but it is also indicative of pent-up dissatisfaction with the current array of phones on offer. The iPhone’s user experience is so much better than anything else currently on the market, that the Symbian group and Microsoft will really have to get the thumb out to come up with a competitive offering.

I just hope that when it comes to Europe it will have 3G (the US model doesn’t have 3G, relying instead on EDGE and wifi) and a better camera.

iPhone reviews out – overwhelmingly positive

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times were both given iPhones to trial for the last two weeks. Today they (and others) published extremely positive reviews of the phone in their respective publications

The phone does indeed appear to live up to the hype with a game changing interface. There are, of course, a few issues with the phone (more of which later) but it has to be remembered that this is version 1.0 of the phone and many of those issues will be ironed out in the coming months. Can anyone remember the first version of Windows Mobile and just how terrible that was? With that in mind, what Apple have done with their first phone is indeed creditable.

Nokia and Microsoft must be very concerned now with the appearance of this new player on their territory. Especially since the phone’s interface beats anything they have ever produced!

Apple have announced that the phone will be updated over the ‘net – similar to how the iPod’s firmware is updated one assumes. This will allow Apple to quickly address faults or bugs found in the phone’s software as well as adding extra functionality.

David Pogue, after outlining all the phone’s strong points in detail goes on to point out some of its flaws –

So yes, the iPhone is amazing. But no, it’s not perfect. There’s no memory-card slot, no chat program, no voice dialing. You can’t install new programs from anyone but Apple; other companies can create only iPhone-tailored mini-programs on the Web. The browser can’t handle Java or Flash, which deprives you of millions of Web videos… it can’t capture video. And you can’t send picture messages (called MMS) to other cellphones.

Apple says that the battery starts to lose capacity after 300 or 400 charges. Eventually, you’ll have to send the phone to Apple for battery replacement, much as you do now with an iPod, for a fee.

Then there’s the small matter of typing. Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first.

Two things make the job tolerable. First, some very smart software offers to complete words for you, and, when you tap the wrong letter, figures out what word you intended. In both cases, tapping the Space bar accepts its suggestion.

Second, the instructional leaflet encourages you to “trust” the keyboard (or, as a product manager jokingly put it, to “use the Force”). It sounds like new-age baloney, but it works; once you stop stressing about each individual letter and just plow ahead, speed and accuracy pick up considerably.

Even so, text entry is not the iPhone’s strong suit. The BlackBerry won’t be going away anytime soon.

The bigger problem is the AT&T network. In a Consumer Reports study, AT&T’s signal ranked either last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major cities…
Then there’s the Internet problem. When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying.

But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.

These drawbacks may be deal-killers for some people. On the other hand, both the iPhone and its network will improve. Apple points out that unlike other cellphones, this one can and will be enhanced with free software updates. That’s good, because I encountered a couple of tiny bugs and one freeze. (There’s also a tantalizing empty space for a row of new icons on the Home screen.) A future iPhone model will be able to exploit AT&T’s newer, much faster data network, which is now available in 160 cities.

But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.

In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn’t hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t bragging if you done it.”

Apple's iPhone launch – a disaster in the making?

iPhone

The new Apple iPhone is a very desirable bit of kit, no doubt about it. Even at the $499 (4GB) or $599 (8GB) asking price.

I spoke to a contact in Apple about the iPhone which they are launching with AT&T this coming Friday and, from what he said, the launch sounds like it has all the makings of a disaster in the works!

First off the phone is sold brick-locked – in other words the iPhone is dead when you get it. You have to bring it home, hook it up to an Internet connected computer , and activate it online.

Remember, there are 1m of these puppies pre-sold. What happens when 1m people all try to log in to the site to activate their phones around the same time. How well will the activation server infrastructure hold up?

Presumably, if you have a PC, this process also involves the installation of iTunes and Safari (Macs come with these installed).

Then there is the issue of the iPhone being sim-locked. And I don’t just mean that the phone is locked, nope, the sim is locked physically into the phone! It can’t be removed.

Seemingly there is a way to map your existing number to the sim in your iPhone – this will be part of the activation process. But you can’t take your sim out of the phone for any reason. What happens when you want to upgrade to a new phone? No idea. Presumably this will be straightforward if your new phone is another iPhone – but if it is not…

Joy, oh joy, I can see lots of potential for support issues right there.

Keep in mind also that the phone is not being sold to business customers – the AT&T shops are only going to sell the phones to consumers.

Consumers with a good credit record. If you have any history of bad debts, you can forget about getting an iPhone! They won’t sell you one.

Why is the credit record important? Well, if you buy an iPhone, you are signing up to a two year AT&T contract with a minimum spend of $60 per month! $60 per month for two years is $1440. So, after the initial purchase, you are committing to give Apple and AT&T at least another $1440.

So, if you are a technically minded consumer, have access to an Internet connected computer, can logon to the activation site, have a good credit history and a steady income for the next two years, it should be no problem.

I’d hate to be working for AT&T or Apple’s support next weekend!

UPDATE: – I see AppleInsider are reporting that the first shipments of the iPhone have arrived in the US under unprecedented security.

Further Update: Apple have confirmed that activation of the phones is done by the consumer “in the comfort and privacy of their own home or office, without having to wait in a store while their phone is activated” as I mentioned in the post above and that the price plans start at $60 per month, again, as I said above.