With the iPhone 3G scheduled to land in consumers' hands nearly simultaneously around the world on Friday, it has been interesting to see the range of emotions, from anger to humiliation, the iconic device has induced since Apple's announcement of it last month.
3 Australia has been downright humiliated by the device, or one could argue that 3 humiliated itself. Its competitors Optus, Telstra and Vodafone will all launch the iPhone 3G later this month, while 3 was left out of the fray. Instead of touting its own strengths, however, 3 opted to point out to its customers that it doesn't have the one thing its customers want. In fact, 3 is appealing to its customers to petition Apple to allow it to distribute the iPhone 3G. To make itself feel even worse, 3 asked its customers to send their thoughts about 3 and the iPhone. It received about 3,500 messages. And Noel Hamill, director Sales, marketing and product with 3 reiterated on the company's website 3's efforts to get the iPhone 3G, but indicated that "for those of you who can't wait, I respect your call and thank you for being with 3 until now. I also hope you return at some point." What sort of marketing tactic do you suppose that is? The please-feel-sorry-for-us-and-don't-leave marketing tactic? Then again, the iPhone makes one do strange things, like waste one's life for a week to stand in line for one.
Meanwhile, Canadians are outraged over the Rogers Wireless 3G iPhone rate structure and are petitioning Apple CEO Steve Jobs over the deal. Some 30,000 Canadians have signed an open letter to Steve. Late last month, Rogers said that customers who purchase the 3G iPhone would have to sign a mandatory three-year contract and the company will cap data usage at 750 MB. Although both AT&T and Rogers offer calling, data and text messaging for $75 a month, Rogers at that price gives Canadians a third less calling time, half as many text messages, and puts a 750 MB cap on 3G data usage--with steep fees for users who go over their monthly limit. That much hatred isn't likely to change Rogers' pricing practices, however, as it is the only operator in Canada that offers GSM/WCDMA, and hence, the only operator in Canada that will offer the iPhone 3G. And while Canadian consumers talk the good talk, you have to wonder if they can really stay away in droves from the iconic device. As I said, the iPhone makes one do strange things, like pay through the nose to an operator one professes to hate.
Of course, it's interesting to see the blatant dichotomy here. 3 is desperate and apologetic to its customers since it doesn't have the iPhone 3G while Rogers shrugs its shoulders and thumbs its nose at its customers because it's the only player in town with the device. And with a pan-European rollout (12 European markets are launching the device), operators there are actually stripping the iPhone of its current "elite" device status, notes Emma Mohr-McClune, principal analyst with Current Analysis. She notes that the new iPhone 3G will be treated to standard, mass-market pricing and promotion practices, including heavily subsidized devices and prepaid promotions.
Still, Mohr-McClune says such a move will make the iPhone 3G a greater threat in Europe--causing more humiliation and anger for all of those operators and handset players desperately trying to compete with the device. --Lynnette