Why would you call the iPhone a "proprietary AT&T phone". It's GSM standard, just SIM-locked.
You can travel with a Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile or eplus subscription in all Europe, theres plenty of room to roam...:-)
I don't see where SIM-locked phones are banned. The whole prepaid-market consists of them.
Where I see a problem is in the combination of subscription and SIMLock. Where over this since years.
But you don't need subscription. In Germany sbscription customers are used to buy their phones for a reduced price. But only if they sign the 24-months plan. Otherwise you have to pay the full price (both opportunities without sim-lock).
The thing is, is this really a problem? The Nokia N95 starts at 349, which is around 470$ with a 24-month plan. Buying a "free" N95 starts at 627,34, which is 854$.
Let the market regulate. Most people will buy the 24-months plan, because they are used to it and the want to save the money. Furthermore: They need the plan, they need a cheap data flatrate. It's a hell, it's so expensive to transfer data.
And there will be people who change their carrier. I changed to vodafone when they released the pocketweb with unlimited push-email an web-acces and this thing is a technical mess. But it was the cheapest opportunity to take my email with me...
Apple will have problems to negotiate with the carrier, because there's not one who covers hole Europe. They will have at least 2, Vodafone and T-Mobile? Who knows? It will not be as easy as in US, but I think Apple will do the trick. And after this Launch in USA? No, the european carriers want the iPhone. Even though Nokia is strong in Europe, it is simply stupid not to sell the iPhone here. There will be compromises on each side...
Where I don' agree is iTunes, there's no problem with that. People install all kinds of crappy software from Nokia...And really, who cares about iceland?!
It's like, oh it does not work in Springfield(Wisconsin). Who cares? There are just sheeps and one big city...
If you get Germany, UK, France, Spain and Italy, you can be perfectly happy.
Launching in US first is logical, the iPhone had a sharp cut timeline. There was not enough time for localization. And besides that, the european market wants 3G. Using WLAN in hotels and Starbucks is expensive. The only thing I can imagine is a ccoperation with t-mobile. They have a lot of hotspots in Germany.
Bit after all, we want 3G!*g
Originally Posted by afink
The biggest issue about the iPhone + Europe is that Apple is totally forgetting about what the idea of GSM was. Its all about roaming. In USA you never roam, so they don't care. GSM was invented because different nation hat different incompatible system. So its all about being compatible. I would not call the iPhone a GSM phone, I would call it a proprietary AT&T phone! It won't work with anyone elses subscription.
I can understand that they got a good deal with AT&T where Apple earns money from the subscriptions. Montly. That might be a smart revenue stream in USA but it will evidently not work anywhere in Europe. SIMLocked phones have been banned from the european market because end users simply hate it. Europeans buy phones independentyl from their subscription. The subscription is their SIM card. Forcing anyone to change their carrier by selling them this phone is simply not going to work in Europe. Furthermore operators will simply say NO to Apple when they try to collect revenues from the subscription just because they sell the iPhone. I think Apple would pretty quickly get a class action case in europe when they try to do the same because there are simple rules which they forget.
I'm buying a phone, not a subscription. Even in many cases, you can buy phone+subscription as a bundle and you get financial benefits, you make two contracts. One with the store who sells you the phone (the hardware vendor) and one with the mobile carrier (the subscription). So if I buy an iPhone in a european store and I MUST use their subscription is just a killer to the business case. Lots of people have sim cards from their company but still want to use a nice phone. They cant change.
So Apple must provide phones which are not sim locked. Furthermore selling to the iTunes store is giving another problem in customer protection. Lets say I lived in Norway but because of better pricing I want to buy my iPhone in a store in Germany. Under European Union law, if something is sold in the EU it can be bought from the EU, wherever you live. The iTunes store doesnt permit this. If you go to Iceland, there isn't even a iTunes store. Excluding countries from the list of eligible countries to be able to use the phone will provide a constant source of anger towards Apple. People in Europe fly around. They even come to USA sometimes (durign WWDC's for example) and they also buy products there.
They often go to another country. They see a nice phone in another country and want to buy it. They take it home and can not activate it. They bought a GSM phone, they have the legal right to use it as a GSM phone. They bought a iPod and have the legal right to use it. If the device suddenly is converting to a dump of electronic parts, people can sue Apple for "repairing" their iPhone because its not working according to the GSM specifications it was advertised with.
Also unlike USA, Europe has many many many carriers, not just 2 or 3 mayor GSM ones and less unimportant ones. There is no way Apple can roll out their phone with even a single carrier in every country. It will make them loose a lot of time and market. Not even groups like Vodafone or Orange would consider. As even they appear as one carrier, they are still many country wide carriers. Just with some common marketing ideas and some common goals but every country is independent still. So you might end up in UK being Vodafone "owned", while France being "Orange" owned. So now you go to any other country and you might find a Vodafone or a Orange or both or none. So selling to those two would not work.
The only way Apple can ever go to Europe (or probably the rest of the world) is to provide a phone which is not bound to a subscription. You can bundle one as a free offer to choose but you can not make it binding because if Apple does they bind themselves to only a reduced market.
In other words, Apple is making stupid mistakes and predictions about the European market. I really believed Apple would be more open to international markets but I'm told wrong. Even launching in USA and leaving 90% of the world unsupplied is stupid. I think the marketing manager of Apple should be fired for this mistake. Customers are not stupid. Customers will find out what they pay at the end. So reducing the cost by filling in from subscription based revenues is not going to pay off on the long run.