Written by Technology

The iPhone on Orange

There’s much excitement today as Orange announces – two years after the phone’s first launch – that it has secured the iPhone on its network. They’ve set up a pre-order system and everything.
As Rory-Cellan Jones says in his good piece over at the BBC: new phone launches on a network – so what?
I find the whole idea of networks exlusively carrying specific models of phones thoroughly bizarre. Realistically, Apple has deprived itself of customers over the last two years by cutting off potential customers of the UK’s other four major networks. Of course, O2 paid some kind of premium for the right to have that exclusivity and the sums may well have added up for Apple.
Apple is believed to charge O2 significant amounts for the iPhone, and the cheapest contract for a consumer is about £30 for a paltry 75 minutes of talktime a month (a similarly priced plan for another phone might get you more like 400 minutes a month).
Contract lengths have slowly been creeping up from first 12, then 18, and now often 24 months.
Orange will clearly sell a lot of iPhones. They’ll also retain customers who might have otherwise jumped ship. They’ll also please some customers who – like me – refuse to change operators for a particular model of mobile phone. (Not that I’m saying I’ll get an iPhone. There are some very interesting forthcoming Nokia and Android phones that will vie for my attention).
But the real fanboys have all got an iPhone having jumped networks if need be months or years ago.
Which makes it all the more surprising that Palm has done an exclusive deal with O2 for the forthcoming Pre. I questioned this before, when it was announced, and now I question it even more.
The iPhone has surely mopped up all the interest from the gadget obsessed and “cool kids”. Are there really that many people with O2 who’ve been after a state of the art smartphone, and decided against the iPhone, instead waiting for something else to come along? Nor, surely, are there loads of people on other networks who’ve been waiting for this opportunity to jump over to O2.
Having a hot exclusive phone on your network seems to be a better deal for O2 who obviously knew they were losing iPhone exclusivity, than for Palm, who surely want to sell lots of phones.
In light of today’s developments, surely Palm would have been better off doing a deal with Vodafone? A big network with lots of marketing weight that they could put behind it.
Anyway, let’s see how Orange’s tariffs compare with O2’s. And will they do a similar deal to Apple with regards to WiFi networks?