It’s been a long time coming, we’ve heard hushed tones, rumours and unofficial confirmations, but finally the iPhone on Orange has become a reality!
Aside from the obvious fact that it’ll mean more of Apple’s slick mobiles will end up in consumer’s hands by breaking up O2′s two year love affair, there are plenty of other side effects of the iPhone getting together with what is soon to be the UK’s largest mobile provider…
1. Price War!
Orange may not have divulged a price or release date for the 3G and 3GS (in a surprise move, they have also secured Apple’s latest model of the iPhone), but it is fair to say that the entrance of a new challenger into the ring could spell curtains for O2′s premium price point.
A bloody high street battle is bound to ensue, with a new-found choice of provider driving iPhone prices down and resulting in a turf war between the two networks for the attention (and signatures) of cash-conscious shoppers.
Prepare to see shorter contracts, sweetened upgrade deals and cheaper handset costs for the coveted smart phone from both O2 and Orange, as they vie for supremacy over a cash-strapped public.
All signs point to Orange releasing the handset this side of Xmas, which could lead to the iPhone becoming this year’s must have present…if the price is right.
2. Better 3G coverage.
One thing that O2 has been in the media a lot about in recent months is their patchy 3G coverage. Many consumers found that their shiny new iPhone 3G was a lot less impressive at surfing the web, as high speed data signals remained elusive.
Earlier in the year, Ofcom released UK coverage maps, highlighting the degree of 3G reception across the country for the major networks. The maps spoke for themselves, as well as explaining the reason for some people’s reception issues…
Exactly. Now that the iPhone will made be available on another network which can claim further reaching 3G reception, it might force O2′s hand to improve network coverage as well as service…if Ofcom being on their case about it wasn’t enough.
3. Stronger competition from exclusive handsets.
Nothing stimulates innovation like a bit of healthy competition, and the iPhone no longer being an exclusive might force networks to drive consumer interest in other handsets on their respective rosters…
The Motorola DEXT is Orange’s latest acquisition, a socially-savvy communicator that links up to Twitter, Facebook and all manner of sites, and will definitely be priced to scoop up those teens not quite ready for the iPhone.
O2 are already directing attention to the forthcoming ‘iPhone killer’, the Palm Pre, and a response on their blog to Orange’s announcement makes them sound proud of the million-odd new sign ups that the iPhone has brought, but still determined to forge ahead with exclusive devices.
Without a monopoly on the world’s most hyped handset, people who aren’t swayed by the iPhone will still need to get the next best thing. It is up to the carriers to convince of what that is, and rest assured they will be spending a lot of money on advertising in the coming months letting us know.
4. Network-specific apps.
Without the shackles of a single network, even more people will be making impulse purchases on the App Store, but also networks can develop applications that allow customers to get more from their mobile.
The My O2 iPhone app currently enables users to check their remaining minutes, texts and charges, whilst also allowing them to see their current Bolt-Ons and view recent bills. All very useful, and a great piece of optional functionality that the iPhone can bring specifically to users for a particular network.
Does this mean that Orange World functionality can finally arrive as an app as opposed to being hard-coded into the handset? We maintain our candlelight vigil in hope…
5. iPhone on T-Mobile?
Well, it’s no secret that just last month Orange and T-Mobile inked a deal seeing the two merge and become the nation’s biggest mobile network, with over 28.4 million customers.
As this merger is in the early stages, the two networks are still maintaining distinct branding and retail outlets at present.
However, how much overlap might there be in the future, and will we see the iPhone available on T-Mobile as well as Orange as a consequence?
When the join between these two providers is a little difficult to distinguish, it is not a huge leap of the imagination to see cross-promotion of the iPhone 3G/3GS in T-Mobile stores, or sign-ups to a network with can boast better 3G coverage than even Orange.
Time will tell, but now that the bubble of iPhone exclusivity has burst, all bets are off on which network will be next to sell this generation’s hottest mobile phone.