Sharp End: 3 B2B and iPhone issues


3 business discounts

Previously, I and others have moaned at 3 for removing the line rental discounts on 18 and 24-month Business 600 and Business 900 tariffs. Well, 3 has listened and has reverted back to the 15 per cent and 25 per cent discount options.

For all our moaning, it is nice to know 3 listens to the dealer channel, and is prepared to go back on ill conceived changes to its proposition. So, thank you 3.

Orange iPhone exclusivity

By the time you read this, Orange will finally be selling the ‘Jesus Phone’, sorry Apple iPhone 3G and 3G S. Orange has decided not to discount the iPhone in competition with O2 but to offer both models for very nearly identical (and expensive) tariffs. Orange is instead promoting the iPhone on the grounds of better coverage.

To get the 3G S for free a consumer user will need to commit to a £45 per month tariff lasting two years, which will get them the 16GB device as well as 1,200 cross-network minutes, 500 texts and unlimited internet – ‘unlimited internet’ in Orange’s eyes would appear to be a measly 750MB.  More misleading advertising.

The big problem for regular dealers is Orange will not be allowing the general dealer channel to be selling the iPhone. It appears at least one of the fruiterers is excluding us deliberately. Or is that just dealer paranoia? Either way, customers clearly want it and dealers clearly represent a specialist sales channel. We trusted independent specialists. It seems everyone, here, is missing a trick.

There are a lot of questions around pricing still. I have not heard how pricing stacks up for existing customers looking to upgrade. Will customers have to change to a specific iPhone tariff? Will the iPhone be available for business customers on sharer tariffs?

For those dealers out there that have existing customers who are determined to get an iPhone as an upgrade then the only options for us at present are to either advise the customer to go to Orange direct, try to persuade them to churn to O2 – or another network with a SIM-free iPhone at a ridiculous price – or to buy an Orange prepay iPhone for £440 and process some other handset as an upgrade.

Not an ideal solution but given Orange has decided to exclude a whole segment of the industry from selling the iPhone then I see that dealers will have no option but to come up with inventive options like this to try and keep their customers.
iPhone unlocking

In what has to be seen as perfect timing for the release of the iPhone in Orange, it has been announced that Geohot, a well known iPhone hacker, has come up with a solution that will unlock and jailbreak all current iPhones. The unlock solution, Blackra1n, is available to download both in Windows and Mac versions.

I used the new unlock service recently and although I had initial driver issues with the Windows version of the software I went on to use the Mac version and have to say it is the simplest implementation of unlocking yet.

The process is near fool proof and will come in handy for unlocking those Orange prepay iPhones so that we can keep our customers – as well as unlocking all the new Orange iPhones that come available as customers realise it is not the Jesus Phone they had expected, and instead ask for an HTC HD2, say.

TomTom, Garmin and others – time to worry?

Google has announced it is to release turn-by-turn voice navigation free of charge with the release of its Android 2.0 operating system.

Google gave a demonstration of the new navigation software and, as well as being free of charge and providing proper voice turn by turn directions, it allows 3D views, live traffic updates and the ability to search along a given route for whatever you are looking for.

It looks like at the moment the new navigation option is only valid in the USA but it is surely only a matter of time before Google rolls this out to other regions.

And then why would someone fork out a few hundred pounds on a navigation solution from the likes of TomTom and Garmin when they can get  a bang up-to-date version where the maps never expire, the traffic is always ‘live’ and it comes with a free smartphone?

I’ve had to smile to myself this week as I have been receiving various emails from TomTom asking me to update my UK maps for over £60 a year as well as update speed cameras for another £20 per year, and so on. I have not checked the share prices of these companies but I’m sure they are on a rapid slide downhill. We used to say Microsoft was taking over the world but nowadays it’s Google (and Tesco).