By Mark O’Neill
Italy could prove to be the turning point for the Apple iPhone. Vodafone and Telecom Italia have announced that they have both won contracts to bring the iPhone to Italy – the first time that two competing networks will sell the iPhone in the same country at the same time – and this may have a knock-on effect elsewhere in other iPhone markets.
Vodafone will also sell the iPhone in nine other countries where the customers prefer pre-pay phones instead of contracts – and we’re talking BIG countries here such as Australia and New Zealand, not poor Third World ones. So if Australia and New Zealand rolls out pre-paid iPhones to satisfy their customers, how long before they reach the US, UK and Europe? Not long I imagine. And how will Steve Jobs feel about his beloved iPhone being used with top-up pre-pay cards?
My own personal feeling is that pre-pay iPhones would actually do well here in Europe where sales are actually very disappointing and the price of an iPhone has been slashed very heavily to try to boost sales. Here in Germany, the price of an iPhone has plummeted from an initial EUR 400 down to EUR 100 and STILL they are not selling. But imagine if they were to be sold with a pre-pay card instead? I would immediately buy one and I’m sure others would too, if they weren’t handcuffed with an expensive long-term contract.
But with the Skype phone out and a Google Android phone due to come out soon, I can’t help but wonder if Apple have missed the boat. They may have had their moment and blew it by bringing out their phone with too high a price and too restrictive a contract. Now it’s Skype and Google’s turn to swoop in. What do you think?