Well, Apple did NOT announce the arrival of the Beatles on iTunes today like I thought and I have never been happier to be wrong. As most other rumor sites predicted, Apple did officially announce the date for the UK launch of the iPhone. November 9th the iPhone will go on sale in the UK and as predicted O2 will be the exclusive carrier of the “Jesus” phone.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with O2 to offer our revolutionary iPhone to UK customers”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “US iPhone customer satisfaction is off the charts, and we can’t wait to let UK customers get their hands on it and learn what they think of it”.
Apple held a special event at the Regent Street Apple store Tuesday morning to announce the deal. At the event Apple and O2 also gave details on pricing and service plans. The iPhone will be available in an 8GB model for £269 (inc VAT) (USD ~ $536). For service, customers can pick from three monthly iPhone “tariffs” offered by O2. £35 (USD ~$70) for 200 minutes, £45 (USD ~$90) for 600 minutes, and £55 (USD ~$110) for 1200 minutes. The 200 minute plan includes 200 SMS messages, while the upper two plans come with 500 SMS messages a month. All plans come with unlimited data, visual voicemail, and access to 7,500 wifi hotspots from The Cloud.
If you ask me, the pricing of the iPhone seems a bit steep. Maybe Apple thinks what worked in the US can work in the UK too? If that is the case I think they are making a huge mistake. It will be interesting to see how well the iPhone sells at that price in the early weeks of the UK launch. After issuing massive price drops in the US just months after release, UK customers may be more likely to wait and see if Apple repeats it’s iPhone price cutting tricks again across The Pond.
On the O2 side of things… I am sure some are a bit disappointed that there was no 3G version of the phone announced. The iPhone on O2 will continue to run EDGE just like the AT&T iPhones here in the States. The advantage in the UK is customers will have free unlimited access to the 7,500 wifi hotspots from The Cloud. Unfortunately, Apple may have needed to include the UK hotspot deal because currently only about 30% of the country is covered by O2 on EDGE. Still, it’s nice to have the wifi and I hope Apple is looking at working out some similar deal in the US. Since T-Mobile would be the logical choice for a wifi hotspot deal here it seems unlikely Apple would do it, but you never know. It could be an interesting way to leverage iPhone service and to keep pressure on AT&T.