Optical/IP Networks

Will Euros Buy the iPhone?

So, the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone has arrived in the U.K. via a reportedly last-minute deal with Telefónica UK Ltd. and is likely to be launched in Germany very soon.

The phone will go on sale Nov. 9 in the U.K. for a whopping £269 (US$539) a pop. I'll be very curious to see if the Brits and other Euro-types will pay that much for a phone that doesn't have the latest in 3G connectivity. Apple is apparently waiting for more power-efficient 3G chips before it moves the iPhone up the data-speed ladder. (See Jobs Leads iPhone Into UK and iPhone Invades UK.)

Many continue to argue over whether the iPhone is actually a third-generation (3G) device at all. That, however, is not particularly the issue in the European market. It is indisputable that the iPhone, which uses EDGE technology for cellular calls and data connections, is lagging the leading smartphones in Europe that use high-speed packet access (HSPA) or wideband-CDMA (WCDMA) to get megabits per second over the air. EDGE phones can only muster around 100-kbit/s downloads on average.

This, combined with the fact that the user is locked into an 18-month contract with O2, makes the iPhone an expensive little trifle. The HSDPA-capable Samsung i600 , for instance, is available for £218 or so without a lock-down contract.

Ironically, Apple is bringing U.S. cellphone economics to the U.K. -- and presumably the rest of Europe -- while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is slowly trying to chip away at these norms in the U.S. with its move for "open access" rules in parts of the 700 MHz band. (See Now Wait for Wireless Broadband .) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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