With only a few hours to go until Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference 2009, it is now pretty much accepted wisdom that there will be an announcement of a new iPhone. If this is true, it’ll be the third year on the bounce that they’ve released new iPhone hardware. Now I’m all up for technological advancement, and bearing in mind I’m about 6 weeks away from the end of my current mobile phone contract I may well be in the market for just such a device.
However, I have a few issues with the whole iPhone sales model. If Apple continue this 12-month cycle of hardware upgrades, how are customers going to fare with this incessant pace of change? If I got myself a new 18-month contract for a 3rd generation iPhone as soon as it’s released, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have an obsolete model after 12 months. So do I then get the 4th-gen iPhone when the contract expires, knowing that if I’m just a bit more patient I can have the 5th-gen in just another six months? My god, it’s enough to make your head spin!
But my *real* problem with the iPhone is unfortunately more fundamental than the obsolescense of the hardware. The cost is just a bit rich for my blood. I know that you’re getting what is arguably the best mobile phone in the world, but the monthly cost is what’s putting me off. The cheapest contract for an iPhone is £30 a month, for 18 months, with an upfront cost of £100 for the 8GB model. For that outlay, you get 75 minutes and 125 texts and unlimited data.
Now I can get a super-shiny Nokia E71 (which admittedly, isn’t an iPhone but is widely recognised to be the best smart phone on the market bar none) for free on an 18-month contract with 200 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data for £20 a month from three.co.uk.
There’s an interesting comparison between the two phones from Wired.com – just try to ignore the geeks and concentrate on the phones…
So over the life of the 18-month contract the iPhone will set me back £640, the Nokia will cost me £360. That’s some significant margin – £280 is a lot in my world.
So there’s my problem – I *know* the iPhone is better. I *know* it’s cooler. I *know* it’s made by the almighty Apple. But when I already have an iPod Touch (which is 75% of the iPhone anyway), I just can’t justify the cost. My iPhone-owning friends have all said “but it’s only an extra £10 a month”, but the flip side of that is that “it’s a WHOLE £10 extra a month”.
So yes, let’s have some shiny new hardware. Let’s make the best phone in the world even better. Let’s bask in the glory of Apple’s design and vision. But more than any of those things, LET’S MAKE THE DAMN THING CHEAPER.
*** UPDATE ***
So now the WWDC keynote has been and gone, and Apple have announced their new iPhone model, the iPhone 3GS. So far as I can tell, it’s very similar to the old model but now sports HSDPA and a 3 megapixel camera with video capability. Both of which the Nokia E71 has had since it’s introduction over a year ago. But the best bit? The upfront cost for the 8GB iPhone 3GS is a bargain at only £185. Which, from my earlier calculations, pushes the total 18-month cost up to £725. Excuse me if I don’t rush to buy one.