The Cutting Room – Issue 416


This time it’s with the much expected 3G version – but the surprise, and indeed wow, factor was missing.

In fact, the only surprise was Apple has somehow continued to convince the public that its product, with limited capabilities, deserves more attention than higher-specced offerings from other manufacturers.

However, it appears O2 and Apple are clearly aware that, despite a few added features, largely in the software department, the device is not the breakthrough handset it had people believing from the original 2G version launched last September.

It’s important to remember O2 adjusted the prices of its tariffs and lowered the price of the device in just six months. While this could be for a number of reasons, it certainly suggests it simply wasn’t selling as well as anticipated.

The new device has some nice features, such as HSPDA internet speeds and in-built GPS, but so do many other handsets. Also, the memory is half of some iPods, meaning Apple hasn’t met, let alone stretched, its already proven capabilities, short changing its own reputation.

Add to this the camera hasn’t improved from a rather archaic two megapixels, and there is still no video function.

It seems pretty telling that O2 has no plans to replicate last year’s scenes at 6:02 on July 11, when the handset goes on sale.

Clearly, the device has lost its wow factor, along with its high end price tag, and the expected 3G behemoth is looking more like a step down rather than up.

Box breakers take note

The handset now has to be connected in store rather than being taken away, unlocked, sent abroad or, in some cases, connected to O2 via iTunes.

Such a change in strategy had the potential to all but end these issues – except O2 is, for the first time, also selling it on prepay (a place, incidentally, you would struggle to find devices such as Nokia’s N95).

But to its credit, O2 has wised up to the smartphone frenzy and included the device on business packages. There’s even talk Apple could knock BlackBerry maker RIM off its perch as top smartphone manufacturer, but that will need a lot of time and marketing savvy.

However, selling the iPhone on prepay will welcome back the box breakers who were only stopped in their tracks purchasing the 2G version due to the company running out.

Box breakers are rubbing their hands at the prospect of getting hold of the new devices and even dealers are reportedly setting up ways to sell the product on different networks.

Possibly the most significant change is that Apple stores will have the facilities to credit vet and connect onto the O2 network; with Apple already selling its own accessories in O2 stores, it may only be a matter of time before O2 has a similar presence in Apple’s outlets.