Thursday, September 06, 2007

The 3G iPhone?

Only hours after the beat goes on and rumours of a European 3G iPhone release at the Apple Expo later this month are starting to circulate. It does make a certain amount of sense, a $200 price drop is pretty remarkable, and opens the way for a new 3G model to fill the vacated $599 price point.

None the less for a company that's not really known for rapidly upgrading their product lines, the 4GB iPhone died a suspiciously quick death. Surprisingly perhaps, Apple has understood from the outset the rapid turnover in models necessary in the mobile phone market. There is a reason the margin on mobile phones is notoriously low.

How long does a mobile phone stay on the market? In the US it might be different but in the UK, and the rest of Europe, it's a matter of months. I bought, or rather was given for free by my network, a Nokia N80 when I last renewed my contract just under a year ago. You can't even buy the handset anymore, if it was a desktop machine they'd still be churning it out. But it's a phone, the turn over time for phone models is 6 months to a year tops. If Apple are even selling the original iPhone in twelve months time then they're showing they don't understand the market they've got into...

Of course in the twenty days between now and the Apple Expo I'm sure Apple will shift a lot of iPod touch models to people desperate to get their hands on that touch screen goodness and can't yet buy an iPhone. One way or the other Apple will get their early adopter tax out of us Europeans.

I've got very little sympathy for those people who feel cheated because the price of their phone has dropped. Reducing the price by a third is actually fairly mild compared to some of the price drops you see on high end Nokias a few months after they roll out. The price of a high end phone can drop from (a subsidised price of) several hundred pounds to free with a twelve month contract in the space of a few weeks after launch. Sorry, but those are the breaks...

My prediction? If there is any truth to the rumours at all, then we'll see a 3G iPhone later this month at the $599 price point, possibly with more memory and a better camera. Such things actually matter in the European market. But six months after that the new phone will be sitting at the $399 price point and the current iPhone will be a memory.

To those of you complaining about that, you're buying a piece of disposable consumer hardware, not a desktop machine that's going to be with for the next three or four years. Forget about it...

Update: So even if you don't qualify for any other refund, Apple are now going to give you a $100 credit in the Apple Store if you were an early adopter. Happy now?