There’s life after iPhone

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Many users have been tempted to buy an iPhone handset and then unlock it using one of the software hacking solutions that have been made available. This avoids getting tied to one of the expensive and restrictive tariffs linked to the iPhone by AT&T in the US and O2 in the UK.

But this is a dangerous strategy. Apple recently updated its iPhone software to version 1.1.1 and in the process relocked thousands of previously unlocked handsets, killing functionality in the process.

We can’t say we weren’t warned. Apple recently announced that hacked and unlocked iPhones would probably not work after any future firmware update.
But it’s a blow for Apple’s credibility. The company is upsetting many iPhone users who feel they have a right to add third-party software to a phone they paid top whack for without any subsidy.

Still, this controversy could open doors as far as dealers are concerned. Newer and technologically far more advanced handsets are being announced all the time and these could make the perfect alternative sales pitch for the eager iPhone fan.

Take the brand new version of the Touch phone from HTC – the Touch Dual. It boasts expandable memory, a 3G HSPDA radio and both a touch interface and regular tactile keys within the hidden slider unit. All this in a package very close to the HTC Touch that is already very popular. The new HTC Touch Dual will also be available in the next few weeks too – so make the most of iPhone dissatisfaction.

O2 data offer has its limits

Networks are battling to win more non-voice customers and O2 is the latest to announce an all-you-can-use data plan.

On the face of it, that’s good news for us as well as them, as it gives dealers more ammunition to win the battle for customers. In this case the deal is that £7.50 a month buys users “unlimited” data use.

But there’s a catch. O2’s definition of “unlimited” is a measly 200MB a month.

How can any network be allowed to advertise add-ons or even core tariffs as having unlimited usage under such restrictions? Even if a cap like this comes under the heading of “fair usage” it’s still plain wrong to mislead customers in this way, and will not help us sell their offering in-store.

Join the cashback debate

The thorny topic of cashback has reared its head again.

After taking flak for calling on networks to ban cashback offers outright, the Independent Mobile Phone Dealer Association (IMPDA) has now called on dealers to add their name to back another proposal to networks and distributors.

This time, IMPDA founder Chris Caudle wants more stringent controls to be placed on cashback offers and for dealers to promise to adhere to minimum standards when offering cashback deals.

Whether you agree with the idea of cashback or not, the offers have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the eyes of consumers.

I refuse point blank to offer this kind of deal and I have lost a tiny fraction of my business to those who do. In return I have gained far more good business because customers are totally disillusioned with the whole cashback scenario and are beginning to understand that a deal that seems to good to be true usually is.

In fact, a few of my customers have previously gone against my advice and opted to go for an “amazing” offer elsewhere, only to come back to me later when they realised the deal was not as straightforward as they thought.

But though I don’t like cashback, and I think it’s bad for business, the only way I can see networks actually enforcing a total ban is simply to reduce the commission paid to the dealer – not an outcome I would choose.

Networks actually encouraged cashback in the first place as a way to win more customers. But they have realised such deals don’t attract the best quality users. Of course the networks try to lay down certain guidelines and criteria for dealers offering the deals – 3 sends out an ever-growing list of cashback conditions for example.

And then there’s dealer choice. Some dealers have said that they want to be free to offer whatever option they see fit with the commissions earned for a connection. If that involves offering an honest cash back rebate then so be it.

Whatever your views, let others know your feelings – either at www.impda.co.uk, or at the Phone Dealer Forum.

 

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