Sunday, June 17, 2007

No iPhone for the UK?

So with the release of Apple's long awaited iPhone in the US scheduled for the 29th of June, people are starting to wonder about the European launch, which as far as we know is still supposed to be October this year. Just anecdotally I can tell you that there is a lot of demand over here for the handset. Although with the smart phone market much more mature in the UK than the States the low resolution (for Europe) camera, and the lack of 3G support are causing comment in the UK. As is the matter of which operator they're going to go with?

If Apple are really going to ship the iPhone as an EDGE handset, then their only choice is Orange who have the only remaining functioning EDGE network in Europe, everyone else having moved to 3G. As a long term Orange user this would make me very happy, because I'd probably be able to pick up the phone for free as part of my contract renewal which co-incidentally happens around October. The down side is that Orange are notorious for taking handsets, and loading them down with lots of operator specific junk. I'm unhappy enough when this happens to a perfectly good Nokia, I'd be outraged if they did it to the iPhone. As, I'm sure, would Apple...

All of which means that the old rumours of an Apple MVNO have to be dusted off and carefully considered, and you know what? In the UK, unlike the US, it makes a lot of sense. The MVNO is an established concept over here, with several very successful ones including Tesco of all people, and it would give Apple the end-to-end control they always wants with their products.

With the established operators against them, it might also be the only way they can release the phone here in the UK. Unless they want to sell a full-price, unsubsidised, unlocked version through their own stores. But if they do that, it will lack crucial features like visual voice mail, and I'm not convinced that the mature market in the Uk will tolerate a crippled version of the iPhone. Do you?