The WWDC Keynote is done. Thanks to macrumors.com, which has the best coverage optimised for Safari on the iPhone. There was plenty to look forward to in the Keynote, and not just for the iPhone. I was a bit surprised they didn’t demo video editing, but all in all, good stuff. Voice control, not just voice dialling, looks excellent. More details are of course all over the web – try Engadget for starters.
So no massive surprises, until I checked out O2’s responses on Twitter. Oh dear O2, oh dear.
Here’s a roundup of what O2 in the UK have confirmed so far on Twitter:
- Available June 19th
- You will be able to upgrade to an iPhone 3GS when you’re eligible for an upgrade
- If you would like to leave your contract early you will need to pay extra – call us up and we can explain how much in each specific case
- The price will vary for each person depending on how long the contract is
Generally, you can upgrade with O2 from a month before expiration of the contract. However, if you’re a O2 Priority List Gold customer, you can upgrade 3 months early. Priority List Platinum customers can upgrade 6 months early. The eligibility rules for this are on O2’s site.
As a rule of thumb, to upgrade early and buy out of contract, it’s monthly tariff charge x months of contract remaining.
I don’t have a problem with O2 not offering an early upgrade path for existing iPhone 3G users who are within contract. They were only offered an early upgrade last time around because original iPhone users bought their handsets unsubsidised. The iPhone 3G on Pay Monthly was always subsidised, so O2 will look to recover their anticipated revenue through the customer buying out their remaining contract. Expecting anything else is just unrealistic.
MMS and Tethering
- We will be supporting MMS and tethering – these will be available on June 19th
- MMS messages will come out of your normal allocation, with one MMS deducting four SMS from your allowance
- To tether you need an Internet Tethering Bolt On: 3Gb for £14.68/month, 10Gb for £29.36/month. Both include The Cloud’s Wi-Fi.
So MMS will now be included in the monthly tariff at the cost of 4 SMS per MMS, which is as per every other O2 customer. We knew that already, but it’s good to have it confirmed.
But ouch! How much for tethering? For £15 on Three I can get 15GB a month. Using my iPhone 3GS on O2 I get five times less plus the privilege of draining my battery. Very poor. And this doesn’t include BT Openzone Wifi hotspots, it’s The Cloud only.
Finally, the biggie. I’ll be doing a full update on my Cheapest iPhone on O2 article in the next couple of days, but I think all you need to know right now is that the iPhone can’t be had for cheap any more.
The highest-specification iPhone is now £120 more expensive than before. Yes, that’s right £274 on an 18 month contract for the 32Gb iPhone 3GS! That is a lot of money, especially when you can get similar high-spec smartphones (think Nokia N97, Samsung i8910 HD) thrown in for under £100 on similar tariffs.
This is a lot of money. However, despite what the Guardian claims, it does compare favourably to the US. AT&T customers will be paying US$299 for the 32GB phone on a 2-year contract, at a minimum of $69.99/month. If you compare that to O2’s 24 month, £35/month tariff, then the cost is similar – £174 in the UK vs. £186 in the US. The Guardian is comparing upfront costs on an 18-month UK tariff and a 24-month US tariff. Expected customer spend and subsidisation across the life of the contract, not to mention exchange rates and differing markets, make such a comparison useless.
But that still doesn’t mean it’s good value.
UK consumers are used to paying less for their high-end phones. And although they didn’t need to, allowing an upgrade path for existing 3G customers would have kept a lot of customers happy. Plus what is that with the tethering prices? If you look on the O2 Forums or on Twitter right now, you’ll see that the company has burned an awful lot of goodwill tonight.
I’m not sure if I’ll be upgrading yet, even though the video and voice control are a powerful pull. At least the software update is free
UPDATE: Check out http://www.o2fail.co.uk as well
UPDATE 2: Techcrunch weighs in with “Why The iPhone 3G S May Be A Sucker’s Bet Right Now“