Details emerge of iPhone 3G international launch

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Steve Jobs announced at WWDC that the new iPhone 3G would launch simultaneously in 22 countries on July 11 and expand to at least 70 countries by the end of 2008. What wasn't revealed was the unit and service pricing details for mobile carriers outside of AT&T in the US. Jobs also didn't brag up the hardball plan deals he forced upon carriers or his efforts to recreate a spectacular launch event internationally.



Weak Dollar, Strong Pricing



AppleInsider has learned that, somewhat unsurprisingly, the iPhone 3G will be more expensive in parts of Europe relative to the US when compared in US dollars. While the new model was publicly announced with a dramatic $199 price tag along with a two year service plan from AT&T here in the US, sources familiar with the details of Apple's European mobile carrier partners have indicated that the new iPhone will be priced at 199 Euros in parts of Europe, like Spain.



Thanks to the weak US dollar, at current exchange rates that works out to a little more than $310 in US currency. That pricing premium is nothing new, as Apple's Mac and iPod products in Europe are commonly priced the same in Euros as identical models of Apple's American products are in US dollars, making them a bit more than 50% more expensive outside the US.



Apple is not unique in this type of international pricing. Other American consumer electronics products have a similar price premium in Europe despite the strength of the Euro to the US dollar. And across the board, European prices for everything from food to clothing are similarly about the same in Euros as they are in dollars in the US, in part because EU countries add tax into the advertised price, while states that charge sales tax in the US add it on top.



The end result is that travel to Europe is very expensive for Americans and conversely, Europeans can bargain hunt in the US with a highly favorable exchange rate. That reality has caused a significant number of Europeans to buy their iPhones while visiting New York or San Francisco, causing inventory shortages in the US while Apple's European iPhone retail partners saw a more tepid demand.



The Man with the Plan



Apple is apparently taking international exchange rate pricing pressures into consideration in the iPhone 3G rollout, requiring that domestic iPhone purchases be activated with AT&T in the store at the time of sale. This will make it unattractively expensive for Europeans to buy iPhones in the US for export.



Now that Apple has "signed, sealed and delivered" iPhone distribution contracts with mobile providers in nearly every major market, the company doesn't have to leave the door open to grey market unlock scalpers, who have helped sell a significant percentage of iPhones to international users. The article "Does the iPhone Shortage Herald an Impending 3G Release? Probably Not" profiled Apple's inventory challenges and the unlocked iPhones being sold for more than $730 in Bangkok.



While pundits fretted over "missing iPhones" supposedly lost to a crisis of overseas unlocking, Apple executives expressed the idea on several occasions that unlocked phone sales were not a problem for the company and only indicated strong demand for the iPhone overseas. Now that Apple has official distribution deals internationally, it has no need to allow grey market sales.



Flat Rate or No Date



iPhone sales quickly grew to become the second largest selling phone platform in the US, but also rose to the top web browsing client in America. Web server tracking logs also indicate extremely broad distribution of the iPhone worldwide, a factor that no doubt helped Apple sell foreign providers on signing up to offer the iPhone.



Sources close to Telefonica, Apple's Spanish iPhone partner, indicate that Jobs leveraged that worldwide iPhone demand to push mobile providers to offer a flat data rate, something that many international telcos were loath to do. They would prefer to sell data by the kilobit, which not only adds up to bigger bills but is also easier to load balance on the network.



Since Apple doesn't make a per-kilobit commission, it would rather have its customers on a flat rate than encourages data use and shows off the differentiation of the iPhone as a mobile web browser and email device. While individual plans in every launch country have not yet been officially released, sources indicate Apple had demanded all international carriers offer a flat rate for unlimited data, although those plans are often more expensive than AT&T's iPhone deal in the US, perhaps as high as 90 Euros per month.



The Big Launch, Part Two



After orchestrating a media circus at last year's iPhone launch that involved long lines of giddy customers, dramatic retail store closings that involved an interior makeover, and Disneyland-style retail employee theatrics to welcome buyers, Apple appears to be aiming to top its own record for the most spectacular launch of a consumer electronics product.



In Spain, Telefonica's office building in the shopping mecca of Madrid's Gran Via is getting quietly rebuilt in a first floor makeover planned around the July 11 launch of the iPhone 3G. Windows displays have been gutted in the prime retail space, and its animated video screen signage is not yet functional (below). Apple is withholding any comment on launch events, apparently in an effort to prevent the story from getting old before the launch itself occurs.







With that launch now just two weeks away, Telefonica and Apple's other international partners are scrambling to set up a flawlessly executed media extravaganza set to explode just prior to the iPhone 3G going on sale.



You Want WiFi With That?



Telefonica is also rolling out WiFi hotspots that offer iPhone users a custom web page to log in using their mobile number (below). This echos the deal between AT&T and Starbucks to offer iPhone users free WiFi access in the US, a deal that was prematurely advertised, then backtracked upon in a bungled rollout that appears to have been originally intended for embargo until the iPhone 3G launch.



When attempting to connect to Telefonica's WiFi public hotspots in train stations and other locations, existing iPhone users in Spain are presented with the option of logging in with their phone number to access their account. However, there are no current iPhone service plans being offered by Telefonica or its Movistar mobile brand in Spain.



The web page text reads:



"Beinvenido a la pagina de Registro inicial de su iPhone movistar en el servicio Zona WiFi de Telefonica. Por favor, indroduzca su numero de telefono. Di los datos con correctos, empezara a navegar immediatamente y no se la requeriran en futuros accesos. Si no tiene contractado el servicio iPhone Movistar y quiere accedar al serviceo Zona WiFi de Telefonica, pulse aqui."



In English: "Welcome to the initial registration page for Telefonica Movistar WiFi. Please enter your phone number. If the information is correct, you will be able to browse immediately and not require future access. If you do not have a Movistar iPhone service contract and want to access Telefonica Movistar WiFi, click here."







The combination of a flat rate mobile data plan and free access to public WiFi hotspots run by Apple's partners will help position the iPhone as more than a basic smartphone, targeting its value as wireless mobile Internet platform. The mounting details of Apple's international launch of the iPhone 3G also calls to mind Bill Gates' 2003 email (unearthed by Todd Bishop of the Seattle PI and recently cited by the Daring Fireball) referencing the planning Apple invested in setting up the original iTunes Store. "Steve Jobs’s ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right and market things as revolutionary are amazing things," Gates wrote.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    angevilangevil Posts: 12member
    Unfortunately, in Croatia there is no way we will be offered affordable flat rate. It will probably be 100 EUR!!!!!!!!!!!! Hate this!
  • Reply 2 of 38
    merdheadmerdhead Posts: 587member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by angevil View Post


    Unfortunately, in Croatia there is no way we will be offered affordable flat rate. It will probably be 100 EUR!!!!!!!!!!!! Hate this!



    Why don't you get an unlocked phone and subscribe to VIP. At 191Kn ($US42) for 3 Gigabytes or 91Kn for 1Gig its as flat rate as it gets (plus you need a voice plan).



    I don't think there is an official distributor for iPhones in Croatia.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by angevil View Post


    Unfortunately, in Croatia there is no way we will be offered affordable flat rate. It will probably be 100 EUR!!!!!!!!!!!! Hate this!



    Also, no matter where you live in the world, there is the fact that "unlimited data" is actually a lie in most cases. While it would be simple false advertising in any other business, the "unlimited data" most carriers advertise is anything but. In my country there are three different-sized "unlimited data" options offered by the monopolist carrier, none of which are actually "unlimited."



    Add the various "system access fees" and so-called "taxes" on top and in most countries, (definitely in mine), a "one-price" unlimited data package on top of a "one-price" talk package is actually about 30% to 40% more than the stated costs in the ads and will leave you with a bill that looks like a ten page excel spreadsheet. Good luck trying to afford it, or even figuring out where the money went and how you could reduce the costs.



    It's a scam by any other name. Rogers in Canada is already hinting at a $30 data package for the iPhone, but "$30 unlimited data" will still mean that you are going to be paying closer to $100 a month for phone service. Outrageous.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Also, no matter where you live in the world, there is the fact that "unlimited data" is actually a lie in most cases. While it would be simple false advertising in any other business, the "unlimited data" most carriers advertise is anything but. In my country there are three different-sized "unlimited data" options offered by the monopolist carrier, none of which are actually "unlimited."



    Telefonica Movistar flat rate for data is unlimited.



    They limit download speed at a certain amount of data download, I think that for 25 ? you have 1GB of data at HSDPA speed and then you go to 128 kbps
  • Reply 5 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post


    Telefonica Movistar flat rate for data is unlimited.



    They limit download speed at a certain amount of data download, I think that for 25 € you have 1GB of data at HSDPA speed and then you go to 128 kbps



    So it's not unlimited, 1GB is nothing, when your phone can watch youtube, let alone, when you download iptv.



    But my biggest complaint is SMS, they could be delivered over data connection if wanted, but instead operators want to charge you more for something that is axiomatic. People should just abstain from the SMS packages, and send emails instead. With flat rate at least that is free. I don't even bother to start about call prices, just remaind that bits=bits=bits, and all bits should cost the same.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    While pundits fretted over "missing iPhones" supposedly lost to a crisis of overseas unlocking, Apple executives expressed the idea on several occasions that unlocked phone sales were not a problem for the company and only indicated strong demand for the iPhone overseas. Now that Apple has official distribution deals internationally, it has no need to allow grey market sales.



    I think what this analysis misses (along with pretty much all the others out there) is that Apple's 3G rollout plan still does not address a big portion of the so called grey market demand, which is that a large number of people did and still do want an *unlocked* phone, i.e. one that you can use in more than one country and with more than one carrier. This is different from a pay-as-you go plan or the fact that Apple will now be selling the phone in 70+ countries.



    Elsewhere in the world (and hopefully eventually in the US), people expect having the option to switch SIM cards when traveling and/or switching carriers when they want.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by applefrenzy View Post


    Elsewhere in the world (and hopefully eventually in the US), people expect having the option to switch SIM cards when traveling and/or switching carriers when they want.



    We live in Spain but my wife is Italian so we go 5 or 6 times a year there and we prefer unlocked phones because when we are there we use a prepaid Italian SIM and when we are here wwe use our contract Spanish SIM.



    Roaming is very expensive in Europe
  • Reply 8 of 38
    merdheadmerdhead Posts: 587member
    There will be unlocked phones sold at some point. Some countries require them and with the new pricing regime there is no reason for Apple not to sell unlocked phones, bar exclusivity agreements.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Project2501 View Post


    So it's not unlimited, 1GB is nothing, when your phone can watch youtube, let alone, when you download iptv.



    No, you can download all you can in a month, only speed varies.



    And yes, the more expensive thing in mobile telephony is SMS
  • Reply 10 of 38
    jcgnujcgnu Posts: 11member
    you guys might wanna correct the text in "spanish". it's supposed to say:



    "Bienvenido a la página de registro inicial de su iPhone Movistar en el servicio Zona WiFi de Telefónica. Por favor, introduzca su número de teléfono. Si los datos son correctos empezará a navegar inmediatamente y no se le requerirán en futuros accesos. Si no tiene contratado el servicio iPhone Movistar y quiere acceder al servicio Zona WiFi de Telefónica, pulse aquÃ*."





    btw, how about the mexican prices? they're also quite expensive...
  • Reply 11 of 38
    samabsamab Posts: 1,953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by merdhead View Post


    There will be unlocked phones sold at some point. Some countries require them and with the new pricing regime there is no reason for Apple not to sell unlocked phones, bar exclusivity agreements.



    People keep saying these legal requirements at some un-named country.



    The only countries with anti-simlocking laws are Belgium and Singapore. Belgium's law is being appeal at the European Court of Justice and the Belgium government is already ready to kill the law. Singapore is a autocratic city state with laws that no legal reasoning --- not a single government white paper explains their anti-simlocking stance.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    hutchohutcho Posts: 132member
    In the UK, unlimited data means unlimited data.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    Ever notice that 611 is really 911 upside down? Make of it what you will......
  • Reply 14 of 38
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Also, no matter where you live in the world, there is the fact that "unlimited data" is actually a lie in most cases. While it would be simple false advertising in any other business, the "unlimited data" most carriers advertise is anything but. In my country there are three different-sized "unlimited data" options offered by the monopolist carrier, none of which are actually "unlimited."



    With some restrictions on bandwidth hogs. So far in a year I've never had problems or extra fees with AT&T unlimited. The unlimited has been unlimited.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    zeasarzeasar Posts: 91member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hutcho View Post


    In the UK, unlimited data means unlimited data.



    O rly? Which carrier are you with? And why are we hearing news about people in UK racking up phone bills of £10k+?



    The unlimited data in O2 means "un"limited with an excessive usage policy applied.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mclarenf1 View Post


    Ever notice that 611 is really 911 upside down? Make of it what you will......



    Pleas help me out. Is this supposed to be clever, funny or something else?



    ( Anyway, when I look at it upside-down it looks like 119)
  • Reply 17 of 38
    fuyutsukifuyutsuki Posts: 293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mclarenf1 View Post


    Ever notice that 611 is really 911 upside down? Make of it what you will......



    Launch day is JULY 11, not June 11, Einstein.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


    Pleas help me out. Is this supposed to be clever, funny or something else?



    ( Anyway, when I look at it upside-down it looks like 119)



    It's supposed to be Stupid......
  • Reply 19 of 38
    netdognetdog Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zeasar View Post


    O rly? Which carrier are you with? And why are we hearing news about people in UK racking up phone bills of £10k+?



    The unlimited data in O2 means "un"limited with an excessive usage policy applied.



    That's roaming data you've heard about. I don't know anybody who has been charged an excess for data, and me and my friends use a fair amount of data.



    O2 has really turned out to be a pretty good provider.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    davesmalldavesmall Posts: 118member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by applefrenzy View Post


    I think what this analysis misses (along with pretty much all the others out there) is that Apple's 3G rollout plan still does not address a big portion of the so called grey market demand, which is that a large number of people did and still do want an *unlocked* phone, i.e. one that you can use in more than one country and with more than one carrier. This is different from a pay-as-you go plan or the fact that Apple will now be selling the phone in 70+ countries. Elsewhere in the world (and hopefully eventually in the US), people expect having the option to switch SIM cards when traveling and/or switching carriers when they want.



    Since the new 3G iPhones are going to be much more locked down than the first generation phones, we may see a vibrant used iPhone market on EBay. That may be the only way to get one that's unlocked. Wouldn't it be interesting if you could sell your older iPhone for more money than the cost of the new one



    It seems like most everyone hates the cell phone service providers with their 'robber baron' pricing schemes. I think Apple is performing a good public service by pressuring them to provide unlimited data plans.



    Also agree with the comments here about SMS being a rip-off. Email is the better way to go. The only reason SMS texting became popular in Europe is that cell phone voice calls were priced so ridiculously high.



    Having GPS on the iPhone with Google Maps will be a treat especially in Europe. Next time I'm wandering the streets of Verona I'll stand a much better chance of finding my way back to the place where I parked my rent car.
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