The multifunctional SPV handset, launched with such pomp and ceremony last month by Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), proved very popular on its arrival in the U.K., though not in the way its supporters were hoping. While Orange was targeting the high-spending business user, it seems some dodgy geezers with a white van and an eye on the Christmas black market were targeting a shipment from Taiwan.
One delivery of about 1,400 devices was stolen from a warehouse near Heathrow airport, though Orange claims this will not upset the apple cart too much in terms of sales. The devices were already late to market, as they were due to be in the shops by November 11 (see Orange Uncovers Its SPV and Unlimited Surfing Claim All Wet). Last week they were still unavailable for purchase, due to "some minor logistical issues," according to an Orange spokesman (Ed note: too much fake tan, perhaps?).
Despite the theft, the SPV (Sound Pictures Video, officially -- Soft Porn Vehicle, unofficially), is now commercially available. Unfortunately, the enticing introductory price of £99.99 ($156.38), as spotted by Unstrung last week, turns out to have been "a mistake," according to a very helpful person at the Orange online sales department. Instead, it can be had for £129.99 ($203.26) with an expensive monthly package, or £179.99 ($281.44) in the high street.
We are due one of these modern wonders to play with and review for our Gizmo section -- as it's yet to arrive, we can only presume it has been offloaded by the guys in the white van, who have them on offer at a special knockdown price…
— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung