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MacRumors
Dec 16, 2006, 11:36 AM
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CNN Money offers (http://money.cnn.com/2006/12/15/technology/pluggedin_mehta_iphone.fortune/index.htm) a good breakdown of the current dynamics between cell phone carriers and cell phone manufacturers. It also discusses the options Apple may have in introducing a cell phone to the U.S. market, and how it may upset the current balance of power:

Today, phone companies heavily subsidize handsets in exchange for long-term commitments from customers. That Nokia phone you got for free from Cingular obviously cost the phone company something - probably hundreds of dollars - to buy from Nokia. Cingular, in the meantime, can make all kinds of demands of Nokia: It can ask for special packaging, prominent logo placement, etc.

Device manufacturers reportedly don't like this system in that it devalues their phone, and gives them less control on how to market its phone and accessories. The author feels that Apple's entry into the market could convince consumers to pay a premium for their cell phone.

As well, Apple has a retail presence already in place which could serve as a distribution channel for the mobile phones should they decide to offer their own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) by reselling airtime from another carrier. While this concept of Apple as an MVNO has been primarily speculative, one UBS analyst (http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2006/12/13/apple-to-introduce-mvno-wireless-service-in-07-ubs-says/) reported last week that they "believe Apple could launch a branded wireless service in 1Q, purchasing wholesale network service from Cingular."

Finally, another option is one that was hinted at (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/12/20061203094854.shtml) by Kevin Rose. The concept of an "unlocked" phone is more popular in Europe and Asia, but customers can buy a phone independent of service and buy service in the form of SIM cards from Cingular or T-Mobile. This concept, however, is less familiar in the U.S. and could introduce some confusion to the consumers.



Grimace
Dec 16, 2006, 11:38 AM
unlocked phones would cause confusion? How? It's a pretty simple concept to me. Buying chunks of airtime seems to be the big hurdle. Who would provide support for problems other than with hardware?

applerocks
Dec 16, 2006, 11:40 AM
I like the unlocked solution the best. Support would be an issue though, but I'm sure Apple would offer something in that regard (and the 90 days garbage isn't it).

applerocks

arn
Dec 16, 2006, 11:43 AM
unlocked phones would cause confusion? How? It's a pretty simple concept to me.

I think it could cause a lot of confusion for consumers who don't care to know about the details of cell phone service.

"I want this phone".
"That'll be $300."
"ok, how many weekend minutes do I get?"
"Oh, this is just the phone, you have to pick a cell phone carrier somewhere else and tell them you want a SIM card for your unlocked phone. If the sales person doesn't know what you are talking about, ask to speak to customer service, they'll know how to get it done."

Depending on the dynamics w/ cell carries, I suppose Apple could bundle service with sale of the phone, letting the customer decide at the time of buying.

arn

sososowhat
Dec 16, 2006, 11:44 AM
There's nothing to stop a carrier from offering a discount on the plan itself instead of the phone:

Bring an iPhone & Cingular (or Verizon or whomever) will give you a $200 discount on a 2-year plan commitment.

Isn't that a more rational plan than hiding the cost of the hardware? It's just like discounting the plan for comitting to more minutes in advance of using them.

bigandy
Dec 16, 2006, 11:46 AM
wholesale network network service

interesting ;)

i think the manufacturers would jump at this if Apple headed in to the market doing this. over here we have the same situation, heavily customised and branded phones, but Apple really could - and would - change all that.

while i didn't initially like the idea of an unsubsidised phone, i think it could work for Apple.

but they better do it 'unlocked' too. that's the best way, in my opinion.

i'm also glad it's not locked to a US network by being CDMA - and to be honest, 3G hasn't gained enough acceptance (here anyway) to be a big selling point - probably why Apple are perhaps not bothering with it...

Cinch
Dec 16, 2006, 11:46 AM
I think it could cause a lot of confusion for consumers who don't care to know about the details of cell phone service.

"I want this phone".
"That'll be $300."
"ok, how many weekend minutes do I get?"
"Oh, this is just the phone, you have to pick a cell phone carrier somewhere else and tell them you want a SIM card for your unlocked phone. If the sales person doesn't know what you are talking about, ask to speak to customer service, they'll know how to get it done."

arn

Another way to think of this general issue is:

"Ohhh, I like this phone!"
"Will it work with my existing service?"

CommodityFetish
Dec 16, 2006, 11:49 AM
Didn't Steve say at some point that his goal was to control all of the technology in anything apple was involved in? (as w/iPod-iTunes, Hardware-OSX, etc...)

Not that apple would buy or build their own wireless phone co. but MVNO does sound more in line with this philosophy. Gives them more control (and it would go nicely with their retail).

I wouldn't be surprised...

...and if they do do an MVNO - watch them bundle it with .mac subscriptions

:eek: :p

Flowbee
Dec 16, 2006, 11:54 AM
Wow... if Apple is really planning to sell their phone unlocked, and at full retail, they're under enormous pressure to hit a home run with the hardware. No wonder there have been so many purported delays... it gotta be just right, or it could bomb spectacularly.

miketcool
Dec 16, 2006, 11:55 AM
Makes sense to me.

You can buy an iPod and are expected to take care of it. You buy a cellphone and can lose it/damage it because your carrier has an insurance policy.

If you pay more on the phone, and it's also an iPod, you would probably take better care of it. Because you bought the iPhone independent of a contract, you cannot trade it in for a free update everytime your renegotiate.

Cell companies also replace your phone (in an emergency) next day because they make all their money off of their contract, not from the hardware. Apple trying to make money from hardware, and reselling minutes as an MVNO should be interesting.

But, this isnt going to be like courting record labels to a store, this is going to be creating your own network, or somehow taking control of the existing networks by promising the phone of a lifetime. Perhaps the wait is so long because Apple is teasing service providers to cave to their demands.

I still honestly, could care less what features are in the device. I am more curious about how Apple is maneuvering this as a business adventure.

j763
Dec 16, 2006, 11:58 AM
In Europe and Asia, it's common for providers to sell unlocked phones with a contract plan at a reduced rate. When you sign the contract, you obviously lock yourself in... but your device remains unlocked. The whole locking technology is utterly infuriating to me.

For the record, I've got an unlocked SonyEricsson phone that I purchased in Australia on a 12 month contract, which I now use in the US with a T-Mobile PrePaid SIM Card. It works great and the phone wasn't expensive up-front because of the 12 month contract which I signed with the provider.

At the end of the day, you pay for the phone, regardless of how the plans are organized. But yes, I do agree that the initial outlay of cash can deter consumers. Hopefully, Apple can create a revolution in the cell phone market: the SIM locking technology is ridiculous (if you buy a household phone, you can use it with any provider... why not with cell phones?). What doesn't seem to be acknowledged in much of the press coverage is the fact that network providers can still subsidize the handset by selling the phone bundled with a service contract.

codo
Dec 16, 2006, 12:00 PM
Unlocked phones are not confusing in the slightest. Buy a mobile, stick a bit of plastic from your old phone under the battery, or buy a new SIM for like £1 from your chosen network, and forget about it. Honestly - consumers aren't stupid.

Philsy
Dec 16, 2006, 12:10 PM
Honestly - consumers aren't stupid.

Or, at least British ones aren't :)

jabooth
Dec 16, 2006, 12:11 PM
Just speculating, but I recon the iphone and video ipod will be one device.

This one device will totally replace the existing top end ipod. It will be sold on apple's website or in a local dixons, just like the current ipod is - only difference being that the back slides off and you can pop a SIM card in.

No fannying around with carriers, completely universal. Many will buy the device regardless of phone features, yet it just adds another string to the ipods bow.

Whats anyone think?

shunpike
Dec 16, 2006, 12:12 PM
would they have a UK network 2 if they went down that route?

gloss
Dec 16, 2006, 12:20 PM
Or, at least British ones aren't :)

This is about right.

MonaLisa
Dec 16, 2006, 12:23 PM
I think selling unlocked phones in the U.S. is coming. Nokia is already selling unlocked phones to the public at its U.S. website (nokiausa.com). I picked one up recently, popped in my T-Mobile SIM card and did not have to commit to another 2 years, but it cost me $99 for the phone. That's okay with me.

The iPhone really needs to be a worldwide product, not just something for U.S. consumers, so selling one unlocked quad-band GSM phone seems like the best strategy. This leaves Verizon and Sprint out of the picture, since they are not GSM, but so what? Practically the rest of the world is GSM.

I really just don't get how these "analysts" seem to think Apple needs to partner with Cingular or whoever; it's just a mobile phone, a device. Just sell an unlocked GSM ipod/phone and thousands of U.S. Cingular and T-Mobile customers will beat Apple's door down to buy it for $300 (or whatever price it is). I think most will be pleasantly surprised that they do not have to commit to another 2 years to the carrier, with the option to plop in the SIM card of their choice anywhere in the world.

Doctor Q
Dec 16, 2006, 12:33 PM
Shopping separately for hardware are service should benefit consumers in the long run, even if it makes it more complicated at first.

It's hard to imagine that a newcomer (Apple) could change the way this well-established market operates, but we'll soon see.

DanielK
Dec 16, 2006, 12:37 PM
I can't imagine Apple introducing a phone unless they can sell it in their own stores and have it work right out of the store. That means that I expect them either to operate as their own MVNO or to have some agreement with another carrier to sell its services from their store. To me, the MVNO seems like the most attractive option for them. It would allow them not only to simplify buying a phone, but also to simplify the billing--I imagine that, unlike most carriers, Apple would not have all sorts of optional add-on services, nickel and diming the user.

Koadoc
Dec 16, 2006, 12:45 PM
I am tired of being held hostage to the Cell Carries about which phone I can use. I have T-Mobile and I want to use the Palm Treo and they don't support it. I have to shell out 400 plus dollars to get a unlocked and unsupported phone. But I am willing to do it to get the phone I want and keep the carrier that I have. Tell apple to Bring on the Unlocked Phone, I will be one of the first in line if it sync's like I think it will as with all of apple products.

dashiel
Dec 16, 2006, 12:58 PM
...and if they do do an MVNO - watch them bundle it with .mac subscriptions

:eek: :p

i've thought the same for some time, or at least similar. i think could actually be a good thing. instead of forking over $100, apple's mvno could offer services like the other carriers do ($5 for unlimited texting, $20 for internet access, etc...)

ideally apple will just bundle it in the service -- i think they almost have to -- but if not you'll pay X amount for your cell service and Y amount for your connectivity.

if .mac offered unlimited ichat texting, video chat, photo upload to .mac and internet access through safari lite at $10-$15 a month over the phone service... that's a ton cheaper than similar services from cingular/tmobile/verizon/etc... and they'd make 20-50% more than they do on current .mac subscriptions.

hob
Dec 16, 2006, 01:01 PM
I love the idea that American consumers won't understand SIM-free deals.

Yes it's probably a new thing to most American consumers, but are American's that frightened of change? Perhaps so... they do seem to be holding the world back in a lot of things (look at the carbon emission requirements for their cars for example...)

Sorry, I didn't mean to say all that, but it's there now.

I would love it if I could get an iPhone for free of somewhere under £100 when I renew my contract, but I do want a new iPod at some point. So I would happily buy the iPhone...

Thing is, most of my phones look pretty beat up after a years use, and my iPod looks even worse after 3 years, so they better build this thing to last!!

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 01:02 PM
In Europe and Asia, it's common for providers to sell unlocked phones with a contract plan at a reduced rate. When you sign the contract, you obviously lock yourself in... but your device remains unlocked.

I find the whole "free minutes" concept much more confusing. When I get a phone, I want to the know the price of the hardware, the monthly subscription cost, and the price per minute for a call. Then I can compare these prices and choose the combination of montly fee and cost per minute which fits best my usage.

I find the subsidizing of handsets a somewhat shady business model. If I get a new phone every five years, I am in practice subsidizing other people who get a new phone every single or second year by paying higher charges. It is not possibly for me to say after two years when my contract has run out, to say I want a lower monthly rate or a lower rates for calls instead of a (subsidy for a) new phone.

Loge
Dec 16, 2006, 01:04 PM
Just speculating, but I recon the iphone and video ipod will be one device.



I don't think so. A video iPod requires a larger screen than the current iPod plus say 80GB drive, as well as the data entry mechanics required for a phone. That's going to be a physically larger device than I want to be using as a phone.

AppliedVisual
Dec 16, 2006, 01:05 PM
It's hard to imagine that a newcomer (Apple) could change the way this well-established market operates, but we'll soon see.

It only takes one to do it and then a couple to follow. I think if Apple does this and has an initial sales run that looks promising, you can bet that some other hardware vendors like LG and Kyocera could follow. OTOH, some hardware vendors (especially Motorola) have huge investments into some of the worlds larger wireless networks and the companies that own/run them so they could be a little slow to follow such a paradigm shift.

I can definitely see the iPhone (if indeed it ever happens and it actually is what so many think it will be), being sold as MVNO. People should be able to walk right into an Apple Store or buy online and just acquire the phone. Apple may partner with a provider (Cingular being the most likely, IMO) to offer immediate and convenient service for purchases right there in the store.

But if phone manufacturers started to offer more products with this business model in mind, then we will start to see carriers opening up their services as well. Verizon will have to make VCast more competitive in both price and offerings, or they will have to take it another direction to make it worth while and profitable... If they leave it as is and try to discourage, or not even allow phones like the iPhone to be activated on one of their plans, then they will begin to lose customers.

the Western zoo
Dec 16, 2006, 01:11 PM
I hope there'll be an unlocked version in europe, cause if the phone is as good looking and easy to use as apple products usually are then I wanna get it, but I don't want to change carrier... Also i 6 month I may go study in another country for 6 months and want to be able to just pop a new sim card in my regualar cell phone...

Object-X
Dec 16, 2006, 01:20 PM
This concept, however, is less familiar in the U.S. and could introduce some confusion to the consumers.

If there ever was a company that can take something confusing to consumers and make it simple it's Apple. I think this is the model Apple will go for. It's a lot less complicated for them and it introduces little change to their iPod business model.

What will be interesting to see is how Apple markets the phone. I would expect it to be more than just an iPod that makes phone calls. An iPod phone would certainly be a significant evolution of the iPod. And if Apple were to introduce a model that competes with the Treo and Blackberry in terms of functionality, the iPod would have to become far more than just a music player.

So, will it be an iPod that happens to make phone calls? Or, will it be a whole new evolution of the iPod as a platform, with all the implications that go along with it? I hoping for the latter.

Can't wait to see OS X Mobile.

Thataboy
Dec 16, 2006, 01:38 PM
The thing is.... I would be interested in an Apple phone. However, I, like most others, are locked in contracts.

Therefore, the pool of interested buyers will be spread out over 2 years.

What they could do is offer a discount on the phone to people who have to buy out of their contracts. It would bite into some profits up front, but it'd be amazing marketing. How many people are dying to get out of their contracts? Well, Apple can say "come to us, and we'll get you out with no or reduced penalty".

Then they can build goodwill by having no contracts at all. It would shift the paradigm of cell phone service. Apple can say, "we are so confident you will love our product and service, that we will buy you out of your contract, and let you leave our service whenever you want... it's about freedom."

Maybe a bit risky, but it's going to take a ballsy move to get into this market.

yg17
Dec 16, 2006, 01:57 PM
I think it could cause a lot of confusion for consumers who don't care to know about the details of cell phone service.

"I want this phone".
"That'll be $300."
"ok, how many weekend minutes do I get?"
"Oh, this is just the phone, you have to pick a cell phone carrier somewhere else and tell them you want a SIM card for your unlocked phone. If the sales person doesn't know what you are talking about, ask to speak to customer service, they'll know how to get it done."

Depending on the dynamics w/ cell carries, I suppose Apple could bundle service with sale of the phone, letting the customer decide at the time of buying.

arn

The confusion will be even greater when it comes to GSM/CDMA/TDMA/iDEN, etc. Then once you pin down the technology, you have to make sure it supports the correct band. Say the phone is GSM, there are I believe 4 different frequencies that GSM uses and you have to make sure it's compatible with your carrier.

Despite the confusion, I want Apple to go the unlocked route. I think carriers subsiding it would be bad, the last thing I want is an Apple phone with my carrier's logo plastered all over it.

Doctor Q
Dec 16, 2006, 02:06 PM
An interesting historical note: People used to rent their phone instruments from the phone company rather than shopping for and buying them separately.

Just look at that handsome styling!

kcmac
Dec 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
I have used Verizon for the last 3-1/2 years. I signed up for a 2 year contract initially so I am now on a month to month basis. I love the fact that I could leave them at any minute but my phone is old, getting crappy and I would really like a new one. (But don't want to sign up for two more years).

I don't mind Verizon's coverage which for me is quite good. I travel across the country on business and never have any problems. But they may be the worst at crippling phones, offering a limited and crappy selection, etc.

While I don't hold any hope that Apple's new phone would work with Verizon, I have been waiting for it to come out to see the hardware and their business plan/solution.

Unlocking phones I think will lower the carrier costs and potentially make it easier to flip. This is a tricky industry and I do have confidence that Apple will shake it up and make some changes. Any change is good in my mind. It can't possibly get any worse or more frustrating than it already is.

joeshell383
Dec 16, 2006, 02:47 PM
Unlocked phones are not confusing in the slightest. Buy a mobile, stick a bit of plastic from your old phone under the battery, or buy a new SIM for like £1 from your chosen network, and forget about it. Honestly - consumers aren't stupid.

t's not about stupidity, it's about being unfamiliar with that business model. Most American consumers are used to going to the carrier of their choice, choosing a heavily subsidized phone, signing a contract, and walking out. Honestly, I think Apple will have a tough time if they sell at full retail.

joeshell383
Dec 16, 2006, 02:54 PM
I actually like the U.S. model because a phone can only be used when it has service, so there is nothing wrong with getting a heavily reduced price on a phone and tying it with a service which would be required for use anyway.

I am open to change if it works well, but there is nothing wrong with the current model.

Surreal
Dec 16, 2006, 03:07 PM
i think this will work. the first people wo buy may be people like us. on this site. i SOUGHT OUT an unlocked phone, precisely because i coudl not stand the idea fo losing features in a phone that i paid for in someway. it is "free" but not performing to spec.

i have a w810i and i paid 250 for it . there are enough people who would buy initially to give apple a foothold. just like the ipod. i didnt have the money for an ipod then. some people did.

after a while, it will become popular enough for american consumers to educate themselves just the little bit needed to "make" an unlocked phone work.

Surreal
Dec 16, 2006, 03:09 PM
I actually like the U.S. model because a phone can only be used when it has service, so there is nothing wrong with getting a heavily reduced price on a phone and tying it with a service which would be required for use anyway.

I am open to change if it works well, but there is nothing wrong with the current model.

but, depending on the locking methods, you cant use the phone with any OTHER service. this is to stop competition, i know, but what about if i leave the country. GSM as a standard works because you can use it so many places. but the US model breaks that.

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 03:22 PM
t's not about stupidity, it's about being unfamiliar with that business model. Most American consumers are used to going to the carrier of their choice, choosing a heavily subsidized phone, signing a contract, and walking out. Honestly, I think Apple will have a tough time if they sell at full retail.

I think it is a lot more complicated than just IQ of user.

Currently the only way to get service in the US is to buy a contract which includes a subsidized locked phone. So if I buy an an unlocked and un-subsidized Apple phone, how do I get service for it?

None of the major carriers will support it in the US because it is not under contract. If I buy a contract from a carrier it includes an elevated rate to cover the cost of a phone. Will the major carriers all of a sudden change the way they sell service so that I can buy cell time direct without a contract or a forced choice of locked phones. I don't think so. They don't want me to able to chnge my service provider any time I want.

Plus we have the issue of CDMA and GSM networks. Not many consumers are aware of which service provider uses which technolgy because currently the service provider also provides the correct phone. If Apple just sells an unlocked GSM phone, many consumers will be uncertain as to how to obtain service and as to who can provide the right service for their area.

nptski
Dec 16, 2006, 03:29 PM
Apple is known far and wide for their inovation and quality. There could be no better company to shift the market to an unbundled model. The Apple culture is almost cult-like, this site is a testament to that. I love God and read the bible daily but only after MacRumors. The world is too small to lock yourself into anything and as cell phones become more and more primary the sophistication is following. Being in real estate and using 6,000 minutes plus a month plus email my Treo is my office and I see more and more agents using their cell as a primary contact vehicle. I have made a lot of clients for life because I am available, voicemail and long silly "I'm not in the office, I may be...blah, blah, blah" answer messages lose clients fast.

Apple can dovetail into the phone and music market via the iPod coatails and branch off into a whole new line of portable products and so is the integration into the strengthening computer line. The market is salivating for a truly smart smart-phone, not the least of which is me. With tablet (Newton was ahead of its time) technology under the current radar but there, there is a whole new world for Apple. I have some Apple stock @ $20.00, even at $88.50, it's a buy now...

wnurse
Dec 16, 2006, 03:32 PM
There's nothing to stop a carrier from offering a discount on the plan itself instead of the phone:

Bring an iPhone & Cingular (or Verizon or whomever) will give you a $200 discount on a 2-year plan commitment.

Isn't that a more rational plan than hiding the cost of the hardware? It's just like discounting the plan for comitting to more minutes in advance of using them.

This post makes no sense. You are saying that cingular would give you a discount on phone service for a phone you bought elsewhere?. why?. I can understand if they give you a discount if you bought the phone from them but why would they discount the service to you if you bought the phone somewhere else?. Where do they make the money?. Not on the phone since you bought it somewhere else and not on the service since they are discounting it to you. Where do you think you live, in the soviet union?. Nothing is free in a capitalist society.

wnurse
Dec 16, 2006, 03:39 PM
Unlocked phones are not confusing in the slightest. Buy a mobile, stick a bit of plastic from your old phone under the battery, or buy a new SIM for like £1 from your chosen network, and forget about it. Honestly - consumers aren't stupid.

Well it's good you are not confused but the plans are confusing. Many carriers do not make their plans easy to compare. Some of them have different fcc charges, line charges, tax etc. Some charge different for text messaging. Also, not all services are compatible to all phones, even if same type. Example, person A GSM phone may get more serices than person B GSM phones (perhaps one phone can do TV, the other cannot, etc).

Like I said, it is a great thing that every geek in this forum seems to think choosing service is elementary but not everyone out there have an incredibly high IQ like you geeks. For the regular folk, this causes a bit confusion. I think the analyst was talking about the average person. I'm sure he was aware that there are uber geeks where this all makes sense.

dlastmango
Dec 16, 2006, 03:39 PM
I love God and read the bible daily but only after MacRumors.

Can I get an AMEN?

That is the best quote I have ever heard...

emotion
Dec 16, 2006, 03:39 PM
...and if they do do an MVNO - watch them bundle it with .mac subscriptions


A possibility. What is certain is that .mac needs a major overhaul. I'd love to get it to sync my multiple machines etc but not at that price...

kroko
Dec 16, 2006, 03:46 PM
talking about locked/unlocked
The concept of an "unlocked" phone is more popular in Europe
concept of an unlocked phone? more popular? lol. it's just NORMAL to use a Phone. and then buy a service. 90% does so.
yesh, there are sh** phones, that are locked to some provider. i've never used a locked phone and can't imagine doing that.
i've seen some cryings here, that 'my service/hardware is locked to this, and i cant do that...'. one to blame is yourself. buy a cell phone and then buy a service! dont like the service- switch to other!

ready2switch
Dec 16, 2006, 03:57 PM
My apologies to all, but I am one of those who think Americans will be resistant to an unlocked phone. From my observations, the people around me tend to look at what comes out of their pockets NOW, not the big picture of what they spend over 2 years time. The people around me also don't want to take apart a phone they spent $300+ on to stick a SIM card in it, for fear they'll "break" something in the process, no matter how easy it really is.

For this to be truly successful, I think it does have to be unlocked, but I also think that the marketing will have to be superb. Offer a comparison of what you spend outright vs. what you spend on your contract (and on the 4k rollover minutes I currently have and will NEVER use). Show exactly how easy placing your SIM card of choice in the thing can be, and maybe, just maybe, you will get some real success in the American market.

arn
Dec 16, 2006, 03:57 PM
buy a cell phone and then buy a service! dont like the service- switch to other!

I think you miss the point that its not even an option in the U.S for most people.

Where are you going to buy the service from? So I buy a phone and go to Verizon... but wait, they don't offer SIM cards/GSM network.

Can I even buy service without a phone from T-Mobile? Maybe... I've never tried it. I probably just have to buy a free phone (with 1 year service agreement) and swap the SIM card.

It's not a question of stupidity. it's a question of support. You and I might be able to figure it out without problems... but I'm certainly not going walk through with my mom how to install a SIM card into her unlocked-phone that she needs to get service from a provider which doesn't typically offer that service. I'll just tell her to get a phone from a carrier where she can walk out the door with service, and a single bill.

arn

ictiosapiens
Dec 16, 2006, 04:06 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't see how it would benefit consumers to now have to pay for the actual phone when you can get it for free... I don't see how the phone could be so superior that it would make people choose it over a contract that will guarrantee you a new free phone every 12 or 18 months plus a bundle of free minutes... Chat??? sling support??? mp3??? Three are offering all this things with a subsidised phone and a crap load of minutes for les than £20 pounds...

I'm sorry, but if apple wants to charge for the phone, its going to have tu run MAC OS or they'll truly have to pull some sort of magic trick. Otherwise the only people who are going to end up buying it are going to be the fanboys...

Loge
Dec 16, 2006, 04:07 PM
An interesting historical note: People used to rent their phone instruments from the phone company rather than shopping for and buying them separately.


This is true. However the amount paid for the phone rental was separately identified on the bill, so you knew what you were paying for the phone and what you were paying for line rental and calls.

Of course, in those days one phone was very much like another apart from the colours. :p

dmelgar
Dec 16, 2006, 04:09 PM
This post makes no sense...
Where do they make the money?. Not on the phone since you bought it somewhere else and not on the service since they are discounting it to you.
It is on the phone service. Why would the mobile phone company care if you bought the phone from them or someone else? They've giving you a discount in either case. Why do you think they have early termination fees? If it were a discount on the phone, they wouldn't care because they already made their money.
They make their money on the monthly phone service and want to lock you in to guarantee their return on the investment which was the original discount to lock you in.

This could go a variety of ways. Its possible that Apple would sell the phone and Cingular would give you a discount to sign up for 2yrs of service. They could conceivably also offer service without a discount on the phone for a lower monthly rate, but the phone companies are very accustomed to locking customers in and would be nervous to offer that.

On the other hand, folks talk about Apple offering an iPhone without service as if there's no downside. Consumers are accustomed in this country to get free phones, or $59 phones. What will they think when they walk into an Apple store and see a $399 or $499 phone? How many people will actually spend that much on a phone that can be easily lost, stolen, broken. They'd have to think about it for a while. If Cingular gives them $150 to sign up for a 2yr commitment, lowers it to $250. Then if they figure they would have bought a $200 iPod anyway to get that functionality, then $50 for having a phone in addition to the iPod is pretty cheap (assuming the price for the iPhone isn't even higher).

I wonder how big a market there is. Given that most folks already have cell service and are locked in for some amount of time. And given that most people who want an iPod probably already have one, I wonder how many folks will plunk down that much money to switch.

I have a potential $600 early termination fee and just bought an iPod nano, but I hate Sprint and would consider switching or at least trying Cingular (we don't have T-mobile in my area).

emotion
Dec 16, 2006, 04:09 PM
but I'm certainly not going walk through with my mom how to install a SIM card into her unlocked-phone that she needs to get service from a provider which doesn't directly offer that service.

See the problem us Europeans are having here is that it's very common for mums and everyone else to do this kind of thing. People who do pay as you go do this a lot.

-----

As for the price. I think it would be possible for Apple to make an ok phone (1.3mp camera, maybe not even 3G), have a superslick interface and a way of syncing to .mac etc and sell it for say 70 quid over the price of an ipod nano 8GB (£250) and still manage to do it.

That's despite people thinking an se k800i or a n73 is free.

I can't wait to see how this unfolds esp. if Apple go the MVNO route (with bundled wifi perhaps where direct connection for your laptop exists too). I hope they'll do something bold.

arn
Dec 16, 2006, 04:14 PM
See the problem us Europeans are having here is that it's very common for mums and everyone else to do this kind of thing. People who do pay as you go do this a lot.


Right... no one's saying its hard to do... but its simply now how this system works.

For example, if your mom (in Europe) goes to phone provider and says, "I want a cell phone from Apple and buy service here", I'm sure they'll be people who can answer her every question and set that up.

Here, if my mom walked into T-Mobile, I'm not convinced the support people could do the same. That's not to say it can't change... but Apple has to make the process seamless if they go that route.

arn

emotion
Dec 16, 2006, 04:20 PM
Right... no one's saying its hard to do... but its simply now how this system works.

For example, if your mom (in Europe) goes to phone provider and says, "I want a cell phone from Apple and buy service here", I'm sure they'll be people who can answer her every question and set that up.

Here, if my mom walked into T-Mobile, I'm not convinced the support people could do the same. That's not to say it can't change... but Apple has to make the process seamless if they go that route.


I agree. If anyone can do it I'd like to see Apple give it a go.

fustercluck
Dec 16, 2006, 04:26 PM
In Europe and Asia, it's common for providers to sell unlocked phones with a contract plan at a reduced rate. When you sign the contract, you obviously lock yourself in... but your device remains unlocked. The whole locking technology is utterly infuriating to me.

For the record, I've got an unlocked SonyEricsson phone that I purchased in Australia on a 12 month contract, which I now use in the US with a T-Mobile PrePaid SIM Card. It works great and the phone wasn't expensive up-front because of the 12 month contract which I signed with the provider.

At the end of the day, you pay for the phone, regardless of how the plans are organized. But yes, I do agree that the initial outlay of cash can deter consumers. Hopefully, Apple can create a revolution in the cell phone market: the SIM locking technology is ridiculous (if you buy a household phone, you can use it with any provider... why not with cell phones?). What doesn't seem to be acknowledged in much of the press coverage is the fact that network providers can still subsidize the handset by selling the phone bundled with a service contract.

Totally agree. We NEED unlocked phones, especially those of us who travel internationally. I'm sorry, but I'm not paying an American phone company $1.99 a minute to use my cellphone when I'm in Europe.

We also need to be using one standard internationally. For me, Verizon offers the best call reception, but the fact that their technology isn't compatible with the European/worldwide standard is a serious drawback. (CDMA vs. GMA or whatever the acronymns are.)

(By the way, if anyone does call Europe frequently - especially from a cellphone - I suggest looking into Gorilla Mobile which I use daily. It has saved me thousands of dollars in this past year alone.)

aswitcher
Dec 16, 2006, 04:29 PM
Right... no one's saying its hard to do... but its simply now how this system works.

For example, if your mom (in Europe) goes to phone provider and says, "I want a cell phone from Apple and buy service here", I'm sure they'll be people who can answer her every question and set that up.

Here, if my mom walked into T-Mobile, I'm not convinced the support people could do the same. That's not to say it can't change... but Apple has to make the process seamless if they go that route.

arn

You could easily buy from an Apple store with a prepaid SIM...they could have on offer all the major telcos so there is no bias.

They could also have package plans of the same arranged with the telcos.

Or they could just sell you the phone and point you in the direction of a telco or two.

LastZion
Dec 16, 2006, 04:40 PM
How hard is the concept of an unlocked phone? Really says alot of how intelligent they think consumers are. I hope this is the route Apple goes

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 04:56 PM
How hard is the concept of an unlocked phone? Really says alot of how intelligent they think consumers are. I hope this is the route Apple goes

Here's your first problem.

Person buys an unlocked Apple phone, then goes to Verizon (or here Rogers) and says "I want to buy service for this phone".

9 times out of 10 the answer will be "Sorry, but that can't happen. Only phones bought from Verizon will work on our network. You need to buy this LG Chocolate if you want a music phone"

Then you get, depending on the stubbornness of the customer, a 5 - 30 minute argument, the end result of which is that the sales drone will refuse to sell the service, and the customer storms back to the Apple store and demands to know why he was sold a phone that wouldn't work.

Apple will, of course, explain what's going on, the customer can go back to Verizon, and still will not get the service sold to them. Its nothing to do with the intelligence of the consumer, and all to do with the training of the person selling the service.

And that completely ignores the CDMA issues that most consumers are completely unaware of.

The _only_ way an unlocked GSM cellphone would sell to the average consumer (and I've got my fingers crossed, since I hate my RAZR, I would love to get something else) is:

1) Apple positions it as being a full-fledged iPod so people can swallow the price. If they're comparing against a subsidized $50 Sony Walkman phone they need a reason to understand the price difference, and in a country mostly unaware of locking -- remember in Canada we don't even have number portability -- in-depth explanations of that aren't going to fly

2) Apple is positioned to sell some sort of service directly with it, so the "it won't work" argument doesn't happen, and/or Apple positions themselves as the "upgrade" phone, so when you walk into the Apple store they pop out your Verizon sim card and put it in for you.

Mind you that would be very typical of Apple's current trend -- selling something that looks simple to the average consumer, but offers extra possibilities to those technical enough to understand.

JonMan
Dec 16, 2006, 05:07 PM
As much as I want the iphone to come into existance (especially as an AAPL shareholder), I don't see it hapening. Way too many logistical issues, many of which have been raised in this thread.

Why is everyone so sure an iphone is in development? Apple has not confirmed this in any concrete way! All this is doing is creating a (dangerous) bubble in their stock!

JM

ChrisA
Dec 16, 2006, 05:28 PM
I find the whole "free minutes" concept much more confusing. When I get a phone, I want to the know the price of the hardware, the monthly subscription cost, and the price per minute for a call.

But you are not the average consumer. If you ask the people they are truly brainwashed into thinking ALL their minutes are free and their phone is free too. If you try to explain that they are paying $50 per month for 2 years so they can have that free stuff it is just to complicated. Remind them that $50 x 24 = $1,200 and they at first don't believe it. The phone company marketers are darn smart. They know that most people would never be able to spend $300 on a phone they just want to know "how much per month" it's the same with buying cars. "How much per month?" is the only question many people ask.

Maybe it's just California but here this person was begging for change at the gas station. I told her I used plastic money so she went away and made a call on her cell phone while she waited for the next customer The current system allows people who could never get $300 all at once to by phones and the phone companies have greatly expanded their market by this method. IT clearly works.

Appple will simply "cherry pick" the phone market but heck I'd go for 1% of the cell phone market. 1% is a lot, even for Apple.

wongulous
Dec 16, 2006, 05:43 PM
The confusion will be even greater when it comes to GSM/CDMA/TDMA/iDEN, etc. Then once you pin down the technology, you have to make sure it supports the correct band. Say the phone is GSM, there are I believe 4 different frequencies that GSM uses and you have to make sure it's compatible with your carrier.

Despite the confusion, I want Apple to go the unlocked route. I think carriers subsiding it would be bad, the last thing I want is an Apple phone with my carrier's logo plastered all over it.

You and several others in this thread are REALLY trying to overcomplicate this.

No provider users TDMA anymore, and iDEN (Nextel's former technology) is all but dead since Sprint has stopped building it out and began integrating both PCS (CDMA) and iDEN technology in the new Sprint|Nextel phones. There are four bands of GSM, but only three used here, and three in the rest of the world (two overlap). Most providers only use 1-2, though this will all change somewhat with the newest purchases of spectrum from the FCC this year.

All GSM phones are compatible with all GSM carriers, assuming the phones are unlocked. That's the point of a SIM card and the PRL OTA (Preferred Roaming List Over The Air download), you don't have to "reprogram" your phone, and you don't have to bring it in to your service provider to give them an opportunity to say "no" or sell their wares. iDEN uses SIM cards similarly, but there is sometimes still some programming that must be done. CDMA, however, never did implement their SIM-like initiative, so those who use CDMA providers (Sprint, Verizon, Alltel, US Cellular, Cricket, MetroPCS, CellularOne, etc) do have to have their new handsets programmed with identifying network information, and their ESN/IMEI information stored in the provider's network. In the case of some providers, notably Sprint, they have for many years steadfastly refused in 100% of scenarios, from retail to corporate level, to activate ANY phone that did not come from Sprint, unlocked or otherwise. Verizon is almost as bad, though at any retail front the idiots working there (speaking as a 4-year wireless sales consultant) will flat-out refuse to spend their time activating your unlocked or third-party phone, even if it is unlocked. So Apple is going to have to make some agreements to be a supplier to at least several CDMA networks unless they want to stay GSM-only.

I sincerely hope they don't go GSM, because T-Mobile and Cingular not only have the worst coverage (though they are awesome in like the top 40 cities of the US), but also some of the most unfriendly and in some cases expensive plans. In the midwest, CDMA providers rule the population, and eventually how many people you know on your same provider becomes somewhat important with mobile-to-mobile savings allowing you visible fiscal savings with more conservative plans.

Apple as a MVNO even complicates the problems of target market further than a GSM-only iPhone, because that's a whole 'nother switch for consumers to make, and there has to be markup somewhere.

Here's hoping they make both locked-carrier-delivery GSM models, unlocked GSM models (all quad-band for worldwide deployment), as well as locked-carrier-delivery CDMA models.

bigandy
Dec 16, 2006, 05:58 PM
In Europe and Asia, it's common for providers to sell unlocked phones with a contract plan at a reduced rate. When you sign the contract, you obviously lock yourself in... but your device remains unlocked. The whole locking technology is utterly infuriating to me.

that certainly doesn't happen in the UK or Poland. you get a phone subsidised on a contract term of 12 - 18 months, and you get a phone, but it's SIM-locked to the network. until recently companies didn't create the same annoying software customisations that their US counterparts did, but they are doing this on an increasing basis now.. And branding phones themselves, unique to their network (O2 X1, XDA; Orange SPV etc).

But nobody sells unlocked phones on a contract.

bigandy
Dec 16, 2006, 06:05 PM
All GSM phones are compatible with all GSM carriers, assuming the phones are unlocked.

I sincerely hope they don't go GSM.

Here's hoping they make both locked-carrier-delivery GSM models, unlocked GSM models (all quad-band for worldwide deployment), as well as locked-carrier-delivery CDMA models.

Three sentences, three problems.

GSM phones work on four different wavelengths and are only compatible with all GSM carriers if they are Quad band. Even here in the UK there are two different bands used - early GSM phones couldn't hop on to another network if you changed sim cards after unlocking.

Second & third sentence - you hope they don't go GSM but they do? Which is it? I sincerely hope they do, otherwise they're shutting out the vast majority of worldwide users.

I really don't care about the arguments regarding the 'better technology' according to one know-it-all or another - all i care about is them making (if it's even happening :rolleyes: ) a phone that can be used and sold around the world..

GSM it is then :eek:

sam10685
Dec 16, 2006, 06:07 PM
Finally, another option is one that was hinted at (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/12/20061203094854.shtml) by Kevin Rose. The concept of an "unlocked" phone is more popular in Europe and Asia, but customers can buy a phone independent of service and buy service in the form of SIM cards from Cingular or T-Mobile. This concept, however, is less familiar in the U.S. and could introduce some confusion to the consumers.

i haven't been following Apple/iPhone a lot recently. is this thing comming soon?

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 06:07 PM
You and several others in this thread are REALLY trying to overcomplicate this.

No provider users TDMA anymore, and iDEN (Nextel's former technology) is all but dead since Sprint has stopped building it out and began integrating both PCS (CDMA) and iDEN technology in the new Sprint|Nextel phones. There are four bands of GSM, but only three used here, and three in the rest of the world (two overlap). Most providers only use 1-2, though this will all change somewhat with the newest purchases of spectrum from the FCC this year.

All GSM phones are compatible with all GSM carriers, assuming the phones are unlocked. That's the point of a SIM card and the PRL OTA (Preferred Roaming List Over The Air download), you don't have to "reprogram" your phone, and you don't have to bring it in to your service provider to give them an opportunity to say "no" or sell their wares. iDEN uses SIM cards similarly, but there is sometimes still some programming that must be done. CDMA, however, never did implement their SIM-like initiative, so those who use CDMA providers (Sprint, Verizon, Alltel, US Cellular, Cricket, MetroPCS, CellularOne, etc) do have to have their new handsets programmed with identifying network information, and their ESN/IMEI information stored in the provider's network. In the case of some providers, notably Sprint, they have for many years steadfastly refused in 100% of scenarios, from retail to corporate level, to activate ANY phone that did not come from Sprint, unlocked or otherwise. Verizon is almost as bad, though at any retail front the idiots working there (speaking as a 4-year wireless sales consultant) will flat-out refuse to spend their time activating your unlocked or third-party phone, even if it is unlocked. So Apple is going to have to make some agreements to be a supplier to at least several CDMA networks unless they want to stay GSM-only.

I sincerely hope they don't go GSM, because T-Mobile and Cingular not only have the worst coverage (though they are awesome in like the top 40 cities of the US), but also some of the most unfriendly and in some cases expensive plans. In the midwest, CDMA providers rule the population, and eventually how many people you know on your same provider becomes somewhat important with mobile-to-mobile savings allowing you visible fiscal savings with more conservative plans.

Apple as a MVNO even complicates the problems of target market further than a GSM-only iPhone, because that's a whole 'nother switch for consumers to make, and there has to be markup somewhere.

Here's hoping they make both locked-carrier-delivery GSM models, unlocked GSM models (all quad-band for worldwide deployment), as well as locked-carrier-delivery CDMA models.

So after all this, how do you get service for an unlocked phone?

How do you buy a sim card with prepaid minutes for a cell phone and what rate would it use for local vs long-distance, walkie-talkie mode, nights and weekends, text-messaging, etc.etc.

Say I walk into a CIngular store in the US, with a new Apple phone, will they even sell me a prepaid sim card for this phone, or will they force me into a normal 2 year rate plan?

The problem with contracts is that they include paying for a phone. If I already have a phone, I still don't save any money. I have to pay the same rate as the contract which pays for a new phone. I lose around $200 - $300 depending on the contract.

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 06:16 PM
i haven't been following Apple/iPhone a lot recently. is this thing comming soon?

Not only does no one know when the Apple phone is coming, they don't even know IF it is coming at all!

In addition, we don't know how much it will cost, what features it might have, or if it will be any better than a piece of cr@p. Apple does occasionally create duds!

So all said, we are debating a mythical product, with a mythical release date, at a mythical price, providing mythical service, with mythical features.

Kind of seems like a waste of time, huh?

Isn't Apple having a major MWSF 2007 in about 3 weeks time? Why the "BLEEP" aren't we hearing any rumors about "COMPUTERS". Doesn't Apple make these anymore.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 06:23 PM
that certainly doesn't happen in the UK or Poland. you get a phone subsidised on a contract term of 12 - 18 months, and you get a phone, but it's SIM-locked to the network.
But nobody sells unlocked phones on a contract.

I cannot say exactly what percentage of phones sold in Germany and Switzerland are locked but I would guess it is a very small one. I know enough people who went even so far to buy a subsidized phone on a one year contract, then went to another provider, got a (cheaper) contract there and just payed the monthly fee for that unused contract until the one year was over.

A lot of people also only use prepaid SIM cards. They get a phone from one source and then just buy prepaid cards for a fixed amount.

Moreover, in most European countries you have between four and six different operators, all of them GSM offcourse. They might operate on either 900 or 1800 MHz but almost all phones now support both of them.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 06:29 PM
Say I walk into a CIngular store in the US, with a new Apple phone, will they even sell me a prepaid sim card for this phone
Why the heck is this even a question? You walk into a store and ask for a prepaid card. If they ask what phone it is for, you'll tell that that is none of their business. Do Chevron gas stations only sell gas to GM cars?

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 06:41 PM
Person buys an unlocked Apple phone, then goes to Verizon (or here Rogers) and says "I want to buy service for this phone".

9 times out of 10 the answer will be "Sorry, but that can't happen. Only phones bought from Verizon will work on our network. You need to buy this LG Chocolate if you want a music phone"

If the US providers are really such a******s, just get the cheapest phone and plan they offer, take the SIM card out, put it in your Apple phone and sell the other phone on E-bay. The provider would be doing itself a disservice because it has to give away a phone to sell a contract, if in fact it could have sold you the contract without it.
If they block this via technical means, sue them for anti-trust violations.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 06:56 PM
But you are not the average consumer. If you ask the people they are truly brainwashed into thinking ALL their minutes are free and their phone is free too. If you try to explain that they are paying $50 per month for 2 years so they can have that free stuff it is just to complicated. Remind them that $50 x 24 = $1,200 and they at first don't believe it. The phone company marketers are darn smart. They know that most people would never be able to spend $300 on a phone they just want to know "how much per month" it's the same with buying cars. "How much per month?" is the only question many people ask.

If the average person does not get the $50 x 24 = $1,200 thing, I would start to worry about that whole notion of capitalism that the market participants in general are 'well informed'.
In a sense, this is just another kind of consumer credit. And the whole consumer credit business has really taken on insane proportions in the US (and increasingly also elsewhere).
There only three things in life, I would ever use a credit for:
1) Housing, 2) Higher education, 3) Tax avoidance

Americanloti
Dec 16, 2006, 07:02 PM
Why the heck is this even a question? You walk into a store and ask for a prepaid card. If they ask what phone it is for, you'll tell that that is none of their business. Do Chevron gas stations only sell gas to GM cars?

Well said. I have an unlocked L7 bought on ebay and I'm using it with a prepaid T-Mobile SIM card. The T-Mobile sales rep didn't even ask, why would he?
I'm from Italy and over there prepaid rules over standard contracts. All phones are unlocked even if they are branded by the carrier. So if you are pissed off with you service you can easily buy a new sim card and keep you current phone. Obviously, phone are a bit more expensive than here in the US (you don't get them for free for example), but at least you don't have this long commitments with the phone company. It's funny because when I moved here I found so confusing the monthly plan idea, but from what I've read so far most of the people find confusing the prepaid/unlocked phone option.

tk421
Dec 16, 2006, 07:11 PM
CNN Money offers a good breakdown of the current dynamics between cell phone carriers and cell phone manufacturers. It also discusses the options Apple may have in introducing a cell phone to the U.S. market, and how it may upset the current balance of power.

I hate the contract system that phone companies use. Two years is a long time to be stuck with a service provider, and the fees for getting out early are huge.

Come on, Apple! Upset the current balance of power!!

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 07:11 PM
If the US providers are really such a******s, just get the cheapest phone and plan they offer, take the SIM card out, put it in your Apple phone and sell the other phone on E-bay. The provider would be doing itself a disservice because it has to give away a phone to sell a contract, if in fact it could have sold you the contract without it.
If they block this via technical means, sue them for anti-trust violations.

But that's the whole problem --- that works for us, but not for your average-person-on-the-street who doesn't even know that is possible.

Its that average-person-on-the-street that they need to be a success.

As for North Americans accepting this state of affairs, remember we've been raised on CDMA where the whole idea of an unlocked phone is a moot point anyway, since there is no sim card to deal with.

failsafe1
Dec 16, 2006, 07:16 PM
I prefer to buy unlocked phones on eBay and keep the cheap freebie phone as a back up. That way I just switch out my sim card into whatever GSM phone I can afford. I can also buy sim cards for other countries when I travel and simply buy phone cards for the local area. No roaming or long distance charges! Brind it on but lower the price.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 07:28 PM
But that's the whole problem --- that works for us, but not for your average-person-on-the-street who doesn't even know that is possible.
Funnily enough, the average-person-on-the-street seems to be buy windows PCs and not Macs and Apple has managed to deal with it (and seems finally even to be gaining market share).

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 07:28 PM
Why the heck is this even a question? You walk into a store and ask for a prepaid card. If they ask what phone it is for, you'll tell that that is none of their business. Do Chevron gas stations only sell gas to GM cars?

First off, your analogy does nothing for me! I don't get a free car with a two year contract for gas from Chevron. So cars and gas have about as much to do with cell phones as tea in China.

2nd, it was an honest question because I have never seen a sim card sold this way from service providers in my area.

In my area, you can either buy a cell service plan on a 2 year contract with a subsidised locked phone or you can buy a locked phone with prepaid minutes. Once the minutes are up, you return to the service provider and they re-program your phone.

I have never seen a pre-paid minutes sim card for cell service offered for sale. I am not saying that it doesn't exist elsewhere but I haven't experienced this in my area.

I was wondering if you had actually had first hand experience at buying a pre-paid cell minutes sim card with Cingular because we do now have Cingular service here.

Supa_Fly
Dec 16, 2006, 07:39 PM
unlocked phones would cause confusion? How? It's a pretty simple concept to me. Buying chunks of airtime seems to be the big hurdle. Who would provide support for problems other than with hardware?


I read the article and thought HOW would this present any confusion amungst users. Any SMartphone user on a GSM-based network (includes GPRS, EDGE, 3G/UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA in the future) should be fully aware of this concept. Until I read the first post above.

Manufacture provides hardware support.
Service Provider providers network/services support (incl Airtime, Data Connectivity over the wireless provider network, wireless provisioning, and billing) should any issues arise. NOW if Apple becomes an MVNO then they'll do level 1 support of network issues. If they cannot resolve then they will liason to Cingular (for example) to provide more support. Not their regular paid rep. But more of their management team for large clients (corporations/government/mvno). Case in point is Virgin Mobile (you get a bill from them, any billing descreptancy's or changes you want to make) your dealing with Virgin Mobile directly & only. If you have data provisioning for say EV-DO service then your still speaking with Virgin Mobile but they'll have to get back to you in a few hours because their speaking with THEIR OWN support. ;)

The average person on the street may not know about unlocked/unbranded SIM card based phones; however they learn from those that do and have incredible phones that they see the techies with and want. How else would Symbian (S60/UIQ3) or Windows Mobile Smartphones could thrive?! Also these analysts need to pull out of their Arse's and think of Apple coming into the market just like Palm did back with the Treo 180/270 came along. Those where unlocked first and were sold on their website. months later THEN Cingular, Tmobile and other providers picked it up because they wanted the piece of the pie :D ;)

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 07:39 PM
Funnily enough, the average-person-on-the-street seems to be buy windows PCs and not Macs and Apple has managed to deal with it (and seems finally even to be gaining market share).

Actually an awful lot of the APOTS (tm) buy Macs now, too. That's what the original flavoured iMac did, and that coincides with the start of Apple's resurgence.

It's also the APOTS (tm) that made the iPod a success and the Newton a failure.

So, yes, history says that the APOTS (tm) is required for a success, especially in what is already a pretty saturated market.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 07:44 PM
2nd, it was an honest question because I have never seen a sim card sold this way from service providers in my area.

In my area, you can either buy a cell service plan on a 2 year contract with a subsidised locked phone or you can buy a locked phone with prepaid minutes. Once the minutes are up, you return to the service provider and they re-program your phone.


I cannot vouch for all European countries but in a lot of them, you can buy prepaid SIM cards even at kiosks (similar to buying a long-distance calling card from e.g. AT&T). From what I know, this is also the case for a lot of developing countries, in India for once I have seen this myself. You can recharge your prepaid card via phone, over the internet or even at the supermarket counter.

These are the benefits of the SIM card aspect of GSM phones and a regulatory policy which created a competetive market (at least within single countries).

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 07:46 PM
I have never seen a pre-paid minutes sim card for cell service offered for sale. I am not saying that it doesn't exist elsewhere but I haven't experienced this in my area.

I was wondering if you had actually had first hand experience at buying a pre-paid cell minutes sim card with Cingular because we do now have Cingular service here.

Judging by this comment:

If the US providers are really such a******s...

I believe Manu is not in North America and probably doesn't realize that prepaid cards here come with a phone locked to the provider.

I am not aware of any place I can walk into a store and buy an unlocked phone. They don't exist. Since unlocked phones don't exist, nobody sells "just" a sim card, since there aren't any phones that can use it.

The eBay economy of unlocked phones is simply not large enough to support the sale of naked sim cards.

fshepinc
Dec 16, 2006, 07:49 PM
I purchased an unlocked Sony Ericsson Z600 from Germany several years ago. I walked into the T-Mobile store at the local mall, and got a SIM card in about five minutes. No hassles. Everyone in the store -including the trainee who was helping me- knew what it was and how to set up the service. No one there had ever seen the Z600 before, and they thought it was really cool. But there was no suggestion that the phone wouldn't work, or that I couldn't get service without a T-Mobile-branded phone. Their tech support people even helped me configure the phone for email/internet access, even though it wasn't "officially" supported.

I don't know why so many here are crying doom and despair at the thought of US customers buying an unlocked phone and then getting service. It was totally easy, even four years ago! And this is from someone who had never even <heard> of a SIM card before then.

dernhelm
Dec 16, 2006, 07:51 PM
I think it could cause a lot of confusion for consumers who don't care to know about the details of cell phone service.

"I want this phone".
"That'll be $300."
"ok, how many weekend minutes do I get?"
"Oh, this is just the phone, you have to pick a cell phone carrier somewhere else and tell them you want a SIM card for your unlocked phone. If the sales person doesn't know what you are talking about, ask to speak to customer service, they'll know how to get it done."

Depending on the dynamics w/ cell carries, I suppose Apple could bundle service with sale of the phone, letting the customer decide at the time of buying.

arn

You are correct, of course, the model is different, so average Joe consumer will be confused. But the model is also better (IMHO). Apple can sell the idea that you no longer need to buy plans for 2 years or more, you can simply buy a monthly plan and switch as you need. Your iPod+Phone will switch carriers with you, as will your phone number and no, you won't lose any of your songs.

Once people get clued in that their phone never was really free, I think you'll see a lot of people wondering why it was the other way for so long.

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 07:56 PM
Judging by this comment:



I believe Manu is not in North America and probably doesn't realize that prepaid cards here come with a phone locked to the provider.

I am not aware of any place I can walk into a store and buy an unlocked phone. They don't exist. Since unlocked phones don't exist, nobody sells "just" a sim card, since there aren't any phones that can use it.

The eBay economy of unlocked phones is simply not large enough to support the sale of naked sim cards.


Thanks, that is what I was wondering because I have never seen an unlocked phone or a pre-paid SIM card for sale here in my town.

I guess the Europeans take it for granted that everyone is familiar with this because it is so readily available in their country.

So if Apple did sell an unlocked phone would they then market SIM cards as well or provide a way to re-charge your minutes via the internet. Also would the pre-paid minutes include other services such as text messaging, email, or unlimited nights and weeked minutes. Or would those services be unavailable without a contract provider.

Americanloti
Dec 16, 2006, 07:58 PM
Judging by this comment:

I believe Manu is not in North America and probably doesn't realize that prepaid cards here come with a phone locked to the provider.

I am not aware of any place I can walk into a store and buy an unlocked phone. They don't exist. Since unlocked phones don't exist, nobody sells "just" a sim card, since there aren't any phones that can use it.

The eBay economy of unlocked phones is simply not large enough to support the sale of naked sim cards.

ehm, I have a prepaid SIM Card from T-Mobile and I got it without buying any phone.

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 08:01 PM
ehm, I have a prepaid SIM Card from T-Mobile and I got it without buying any phone.

T-Mobile is not in my area, have you bought a SIM card from Cingular? They just started offering service here a couple of months ago.

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 08:01 PM
ehm, I have a prepaid SIM Card from T-Mobile and I got it without buying any phone.

Okay, then I am wrong -- but I[m pretty sure here, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Virgin (only prepaid) don't sell naked cards.

I just want to be clear -- I'm not saying this can't/shouldn't/won't happen. I would love to see it happen, and am really hoping. I'm just pointing out that the hurdle to overcome is educating the APOTS. With any luck this will start a trend and we'll finally get choice on our cell phones!

Heck, I'd just be happy with being able to take my phone number with me when I switch cellular providers!

[Edit -- oops, of course Bell & Telus don't, its pretty hard to fit a sim card into a CDMA phone!]

Americanloti
Dec 16, 2006, 08:20 PM
I don't know about Cingular, I just happen to choose T-Mobile when I moved here (Boston). Also I don't know if you are aware of this, but you can get you locked phone unlocked after 6months. You just need to call the customer service and ask them to unlock you phone.

manu chao
Dec 16, 2006, 08:24 PM
Heck, I'd just be happy with being able to take my phone number with me when I switch cellular providers!
Shouldn't it be the job of the antitrust authorities to mandate the phone companies to allow the transfer of a phone number from one provider to another?

dmelgar
Dec 16, 2006, 08:38 PM
Why is everyone so sure an iphone is in development? Apple has not confirmed this in any concrete way! All this is doing is creating a (dangerous) bubble in their stock!

JM

Apple during one of their recent conference calls with analysts to discuss quarterly results, essentially admited that they are working on an iPhone. Its definite that they've been working on one. I guess its still possible they decide not to release it, but working on one is pretty definite.

discodicky
Dec 16, 2006, 08:43 PM
My problem is this- I am on a monthly contract at the moment which guarantees me a new phone every year. The money I would be saving up for an iPhone unfortunately goes on paying my current monthly bill, so why should I as a consumer have to adapt to the suggested system whereby I purchase the phone separately. In the UK to buy an unlocked phone it could cost up to £250 or I could get the same phone on monthly contract for free on a £25/month plan, so unless I can get the same call plan as I have at the moment for £50 per year there really is no benefit for me.

This just seems like aggressive tactics by Apple to make more money. And I thought M$ were bad- at least you can get the awful Windoze mobile on free phones.

frlane
Dec 16, 2006, 08:49 PM
unlocked phones would cause confusion? How? It's a pretty simple concept to me. Buying chunks of airtime seems to be the big hurdle. Who would provide support for problems other than with hardware?

It must be confusing, since you had questions :)

Basically you would/could sign up with Cingular or T-Mobile. Instead if using their free or discount handset, you use the iPhone and stick a tiny little card into the phone. This card contains all the info for using the phone with the carrier. It also includes all your contacts that you may have saved from another phone.

WildPalms
Dec 16, 2006, 08:50 PM
iPhones this Winter (January), not Spring (March) :p ;)

digitalbiker
Dec 16, 2006, 08:52 PM
I don't know about Cingular, I just happen to choose T-Mobile when I moved here (Boston). Also I don't know if you are aware of this, but you can get you locked phone unlocked after 6months. You just need to call the customer service and ask them to unlock you phone.

Thanks for the info but to be honest none of this really matters much to me. I can't even get cell phone service from any provider at my house. It only works when I travel into town (about 30 miles). So phones really are not that interesting to me.

I am more interested in Apple's computers. I have worked with almost every type of computer out there since 1974 and I can't get enough of these stupid macs, OS X, and other software.

I am just bored waiting for MWSF 2007, and a little pissed that MacRumors doesn't have a little more news on upcoming computers.

barnaby
Dec 16, 2006, 09:08 PM
I actually like the U.S. model because a phone can only be used when it has service, so there is nothing wrong with getting a heavily reduced price on a phone and tying it with a service which would be required for use anyway.

I am open to change if it works well, but there is nothing wrong with the current model.

The idea of the model is you pay a higher monthly fee to cover the price of the phone over your contract period. When your contract is over, however, you continue paying that higher fee even if you don't get a new phone. In this way they pretty much force you to get a new phone every 2 years. People are less likely to invest in a premium phone with a premium price if after 2 years they're forced to do it again or pay for someone else's phone.

It would be nice to have the option of buying a phone outright for a smaller service fee. But that option isn't available, so you'd be stupid not to get the free phone.

So the customers get the short end of the stick without even knowing it.

peharri
Dec 16, 2006, 09:30 PM
The people around me also don't want to take apart a phone they spent $300+ on to stick a SIM card in it, for fear they'll "break" something in the process, no matter how easy it really is.


They're really that scared of removing the battery?

Wierd.

I've owned something in the order of 10+ unlocked GSM phones. Despite being an avid phone geek who routinely swaps the SIMs around, I've never had to do anything approximating to "taking apart a phone" - removing battery excepted - to switch them. (Ok, the Motorola V66 requires you remove a panel on the front of the phone, and the Nokia 2190 - which doesn't work with modern SIMs - has an additional panel you have to remove, a panel clearly meant to be removed. And, of course, there's my good old Motorola Graphite, my first, which didn't require the removal of anything. It used full size SIM cards, which you slid in a slot, and slid a button to eject.)

If you're not frightened of removing a CD from a portable CD player, it's hard to believe you'll be frightened of changing a SIM card in a mobile phone.

Mainyehc
Dec 16, 2006, 09:34 PM
In my home country, Portugal (one of the european countries with the most mobile phones per capita ratio - go figure! :rolleyes: ), all three physical networks use GSM/3G and SIM cards... Most mobile phones are locked and subsidized, even those with pre-paid plans (which are rechargeable only at ATMs, at the service provider's stores, via the internet or the phone itself), and didn't suffer all that crippling business up until some 2 years ago, and the rebranding atrocity (of "regular", big-brand phones like Nokia, Motorola and Siemens) up until a few months ago... Still, it doesn't seem they are as crippled as those you describe here (I'm not sure about bluetooth, though... And they don't usually come with USB cables included anyway).

Some people buy unlocked phones from electronics and mobile phone stores (or, in my case, directly from a Nokia store, which is a rare thing there), but most buy them locked directly from the service provider's stores (much more common) or just about everywhere (supermarkerts even!). Also, SIM cards are preety cheap and easy to get hold of, and in some cases, free. There are these "upgrade" plans, under which you buy a new phone, with a new SIM card for free, and get credit for your old number, so you can keep that and give your old phone away or resell it.

Most of these people use prepaid plans, but there are also 1-2 year contracts, especially for high-end phones. On the low end, some are fully subsidized, and as they progress further up towards the high-end, they get more expensive (but always cheaper than the unlocked versions, of course). Also, interestingly, some people buy the locked versions (mostly lower-end phones, as you have to pay cancelation fees for contracts just like there in the US) and use their prepaid cards until they run out of money (or keep using it but get extra SIM cards from other networks), and then unlock their phones, either legally through their service providers for a fee (can't remember how much, but it's not usually more than €50) or illegally on the "black market" or by themselves... Even if you don't use other SIM cards regularly, it's always nice and useful for an emergency (not the 911-kind of emergency, that is... Fortunately you can dial 112, the european 911, even without a SIM card inserted).

As of now, there are three networks and one MVNO piggybacking on one of them, TMN, the most popular one (not even Vodafone PT overshadows them, TMN has some 5 million customers, on a country that only counts 10 million heads; that IS telling :rolleyes: ). And since two years ago, number portability was finally enabled, enforced by law to ease competition between the service providers... That creates some confusion, as the first two numbers don't necessarily always identify the network to which a number belongs as before (also, that MVNO also uses the same first two numbers as the main physical network's), but "yay!", nonetheless.

Here in Spain, where I'm staying until March, things work preety much in the same way (ironically, AFAIK, locked Vodafone PT, ES and FR phones and SIM cards are not interoperable... go figure!). The only difference is that there are more MVNOs, it seems, and you can charge your SIM card preety much everywhere: supermarkets, phone booths, web-cafés, grocery stores, ATMs, etc. All I had to do, with my brand new Nokia 1101 (bought it already unblocked, it's the first "free" phone I've ever had and I'm not looking back, as even if I don't plan on switching networks, I enjoy the fact that I can if I want to - it's a bit like Boot Camp for long-time Windows users :P ), was buying a spanish Telefonica SIM card and putting it in. No questions asked (of course, I activated some services in a store, but nothing very technical as my phone has a B&W screen and mono-ringtones... but it does have a LED flashlight, probably the most useful feature I've ever had in a phone, honestly! :cool: ). Same thing for my brother, except in his case, it was a dutch T-Mobile SIM card...

I really don't get it, but it's funny to think that in Europe, with 15+ countries in the European Union, all speaking different languages and whatnot, there's more interoperability between networks as they are all based on GSM/3G and soon on UMTS, than in the US, with all that CDMA/GSM confusion... I know each has its own merits, and that the area of Europe is much smaller than that of the US, but all I know is that the coverage in my country is superb (~95% of the territory, and that includes near-deserted areas where you may find small villages here and there), and not too shabby on the rest of Europe either. You're damn rich, how hard is it to fit decent *standard* networks on the US? :p (not that CDMA is not a standard, or a bad one at that, but you could standardize - as in "choose one standard and go with it" - your celular networks, right? EVEN if it was an very expensive task, it would eventually bring benefits to consumers, I reckon... Can't your government defend consumers and promote competition at the same time?).

And while on the subject of competition, as for the whole locking in thing, what's happening in your country is an absolutely disgraceful situation. Aren't you supposed to be heralding all those liberal principles of free - and fair - competition? I mean, Microsoft has this whole "Windows-OEM tax"+Office scheme going on, but they were never quite able to force PC manufacturers to prevent people - they only manage to dissuade them, apart from crushing their competitors - from using alternative applications and OSes (though I have no doubts they would just love to be able to... TPM may just be the first step in that direction :eek: )... If you look at it by this angle, suddenly the PC market looks more "fair" and "open", and the recent Mac marketshare gains are proof of that. Heck, even Apple allows you to use Windows on the Mac. Double heck, iTunes+iPod may be a closed system, but there's nothing to prevent you to use other sources or music for your iPod, or using other players with your Mac via drag'n'drop (I know, Fairplay files won't work, but still).

There's this inherently evil quality about mobile phone service providers that neither Microsoft nor Apple (or IBM, or Adobe, or *gasp* RIAA for that matter, or [insert your favorite multi-billion-dollar goddamn greedy corporation] have ever been able to achieve, which is preety damn impressive (and sad) by itself! It seems, also, that the mobile phone manufacturers may love this business model themselves after all, as it forces people to buy new phones every two years... Which is a total dumb-a**ery, as here in Europe people keep buying new phones every 1-2 years anyway, EVEN without contracts. And just look at iPod sales: a ton of them go to people who are replacing 2-3-year-old iPods, that's for sure (there's no way in the world they could grow that fast based on new users alone)... Most of them must know all that, since they compete both in Europe and in the US, so it's not like the manufacturers have something to lose, really...

I sure hope Apple can tame them all like they did with the record companies and the RIAA, and Creative, Sony, etc. IMHO, if there's one company which can make it, it's them... But their iPod phone is in a "worse-than-Zune" situation now (nevermind the quality of the hardware, as it alone won't make it a success... the iPod had an almost virgin, expanding market all to itself, whereas the Mac faced a lot of hurdles throughout its history, and with this iPhone gizmo it may not be different), it seems... :eek:

Good luck, Steve! ;)

peharri
Dec 16, 2006, 09:37 PM
I
Where are you going to buy the service from? So I buy a phone and go to Verizon... but wait, they don't offer SIM cards/GSM network.


It's simple. You advertise it as working with any GSM network, and then let the operators actually fill in the blanks.

Do you think Cingular and T-Mobile are going to turn down customers, avoiding mentioning that *cough* ahem, we are a GSM network, if you'd just like to buy this SIM card and give us lots of money every month?

Car manufacturers don't seem to worry about customers being terribly confused about having to fill their vehicles up with gasoline or diesel, depending on make. Software makers don't seem to worry terribly about customers finding it hard to tell if their computer runs Windows or not. The notion that saying "Any GSM network" is going to frughten and confuse Americans is a little overblown, to put it mildly.

peharri
Dec 16, 2006, 09:45 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't see how it would benefit consumers to now have to pay for the actual phone when you can get it for free.

Because you don't get it for free. You instead are given a crippled version, that cost the operator the same amount of money (if not more, given the work needed in development to cripple it) as if it wasn't crippled, which the operator must claw back some somewhere.

Where do you think they get it? Government grants? The toothfairy? From special trees with money as leaves?

The two models are:

1. You get your phone for no money up front. The operator rolls the cost of the phone into the prices it charges. It also has to deal with the risk people will not use their service long enough to cover the costs, so the phones are crippled, and the customers are forced to sign absurdly long contracts. (THREE YEARS in some cases. THREE! What the hell are people thinking?) The available phones are limited to those the operator is willing to subsidize. Other phones are harder and more expensive to get, and those who buy them still end up paying for the subsidies given to others.

2. You pay full price for your phone. You get the phone. The actual phone. The phone as envisaged by its designer. You sign on to a mobile operator. The mobile operator has no compelling reason to force you to sign a long contract. The mobile operator does not have artificially high prices that reflect the fact it's having to pay you for phones. You have a choice of every phone ever made compatible with your network.

Those are the choices. Quite honestly, I'd rather the operators abolish "subsidies" and offer outright loans (they run credit checks on you anyway.) You'll get more choices, cheaper phone services, and better phones as a result. There is no downside.

freebooter
Dec 16, 2006, 10:15 PM
iPhone?

iBrainTumor! ;)

Joking, of course. I mean if everyone is using them, they must be safe.

mccldwll
Dec 16, 2006, 10:19 PM
Some here are making this much more difficult than it really needs to be. Apple can set this up many ways. Apple can bundle carrier service with phones upon sale. Carriers can offer apple phones. The numbers all work out the same, it's just moving obligations around. Can still get into the phone for very little (carrier pays apple), with ability for you to leave at any time with phone by paying off remaining "balance" on that phone (say, months left/24). Next carrier can "refinance". Since you always need a carrier, it's all just phone financing. This is really fairly obvious since a phone without a service is worthless. As many have pointed out, there is no free lunch. You pay for that free phone. Carriers use phones to attract customers, but would be more than happy to just sell service and not have to screw around with the phone thing. We have several cell phones, 2 of which are prepaid, because area has pockets of coverage, and one for pure emergency/minimal use in such a pocket. Minimal use phone is a $25 T-Mobile. At same time bought 1000 T-Mobile minutes which included a free Nokia phone. Unlocked it. Bought a minimal prepaid Cingular plan/sim card. Cingular was more than happy to sell the plan. The whole process was a mild pain in the ass, but we really needed that kind of set-up. Apple could easily simplify the whole process, which is really what Apple does best.

PODshady
Dec 16, 2006, 10:23 PM
I really hope that becuase the iPhone rumors are becoming more frequent that it is going to come out very soon and that is not just a bunch of hype.

pistolero
Dec 16, 2006, 10:25 PM
1. You get your phone for no money up front. The operator rolls the cost of the phone into the prices it charges. It also has to deal with the risk people will not use their service long enough to cover the costs, so the phones are crippled, and the customers are forced to sign absurdly long contracts. (THREE YEARS in some cases. THREE! What the hell are people thinking?) The available phones are limited to those the operator is willing to subsidize. Other phones are harder and more expensive to get, and those who buy them still end up paying for the subsidies given to others.

2. You pay full price for your phone. You get the phone. The actual phone. The phone as envisaged by its designer. You sign on to a mobile operator. The mobile operator has no compelling reason to force you to sign a long contract. The mobile operator does not have artificially high prices that reflect the fact it's having to pay you for phones. You have a choice of every phone ever made compatible with your network.

Those are the choices. Quite honestly, I'd rather the operators abolish "subsidies" and offer outright loans (they run credit checks on you anyway.) You'll get more choices, cheaper phone services, and better phones as a result. There is no downside.


well, the operators don't care about consumer choices, cheaper prices or better phones, they want more profit.

Model 1 is the model that benefits the carriers the most. They control what goes in their network. They operator WANTS you to sign a very long contract because then they can show investors in Wall Street nice projections of their revenue in the future years. There is no incentive at all to change their business model unless by some miracle the goverment forces them to change it.

This is why I dont see at all any kind of massive adoption of an apple phone. None of the carriers want to give up control of their network. Do you really think they would allow access to an Itunes wireless store competing with verizon's vcast or cingular's music store? noway!.
At most it will be a niche expensive phone like others made by nokia etc, sold only in their website.

mccldwll
Dec 16, 2006, 10:43 PM
At most it will be a niche expensive phone like others made by nokia etc, sold only in their website.


That sounds like the kind of thing which was said about the personal computer, the automobile and the television.

vmardian
Dec 16, 2006, 10:45 PM
Okay, then I am wrong -- but I[m pretty sure here, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Virgin (only prepaid) don't sell naked cards.

[Edit -- oops, of course Bell & Telus don't, its pretty hard to fit a sim card into a CDMA phone!]

Rogers sells SIM cards. I bought a Cingular-branded, but unlocked, Moto V3 on eBay and took it to a Rogers video store and I was able to buy a SIM card, insert it, and activate it, before leaving the store. The SIM card cost me $35. They didn't seem to be confused as to what to do. It was also the first V3 that they saw. Rogers got their V3s about 3 months later.

ictiosapiens
Dec 16, 2006, 10:47 PM
Because you don't get it for free. You instead are given a crippled version, that cost the operator the same amount of money (if not more, given the work needed in development to cripple it) as if it wasn't crippled, which the operator must claw back some somewhere.

Where do you think they get it? Government grants? The toothfairy? From special trees with money as leaves?

The two models are:

1. You get your phone for no money up front. The operator rolls the cost of the phone into the prices it charges. It also has to deal with the risk people will not use their service long enough to cover the costs, so the phones are crippled, and the customers are forced to sign absurdly long contracts. (THREE YEARS in some cases. THREE! What the hell are people thinking?) The available phones are limited to those the operator is willing to subsidize. Other phones are harder and more expensive to get, and those who buy them still end up paying for the subsidies given to others.

2. You pay full price for your phone. You get the phone. The actual phone. The phone as envisaged by its designer. You sign on to a mobile operator. The mobile operator has no compelling reason to force you to sign a long contract. The mobile operator does not have artificially high prices that reflect the fact it's having to pay you for phones. You have a choice of every phone ever made compatible with your network.

Those are the choices. Quite honestly, I'd rather the operators abolish "subsidies" and offer outright loans (they run credit checks on you anyway.) You'll get more choices, cheaper phone services, and better phones as a result. There is no downside.

Not true, My vodafone Nokia N90 came Nokia boxed unlocked to all networks, so did my SE T610, and a couple of others. The only one that actually came locked and "crippled"(just a couple of vodafone themes) was my qtec 910, which I unlocked with a code I bought from some guy on ebay. And I think the networks are bound by law to unlock our phone after some time. I know Voda does it for £15 or so.

About the monthly rental paying for the phone. Calls made on phones on contracts, are nearly 50-60% cheaper than they are on pre-pay, so I don't know where I'd be loosing money. I mean, honestly unless you actually own a a network, it couldn't be any cheaper. And now with 3G, some networks are offering unlimited internet for £5 a month, and the phones are coming with skype installed, so there you go, even cheaper. And Of course my phone is not totally free, but is far cheaper than having to buy any phone that is over £100 and a mothly fee of over £25 for a year or 18 months. In the UK they aren't tying us up for 2 years yet.

Besides, who do you think is going to get the phones cheaper, the customer buying 1, maybe 3 phones every 10 years, ot a network buying 1 phone for each potential customer every year and passing that saving on to you(because they want you to stay with them) and at least hear in Britain, the longest contract I'm yet to see is 18 months like I mentioned earlier.

And the operator IS compelled to sign you for a long period regardless of they having bought you a phone or not. Even if you join a Gym you are tied up in a contract. They want some reassurances before spending any admin costs. Hell, the only reason I've stayed with my network for nearly 5 years is for the free phone I get avey year and the decent roaming they have.

pistolero
Dec 16, 2006, 10:56 PM
That sounds like the kind of thing which was said about the personal computer, the automobile and the television.

It's not the same. The mobile carriers own the exclusive use of their networks, while GM, Ford etc never owned the roads.

ictiosapiens
Dec 16, 2006, 11:03 PM
That sounds like the kind of thing which was said about the personal computer, the automobile and the television.

Yeah, yeah, apple are pioneers we get it. Let's hope they bring something new to the table, but I'm pretty sure I'm not willing to pay more for something I've been getting for free or nearly free for the last 8 years... And by the way it sounds and apple's record, I don't see how we would win. And remember, this is not a computer that can have a dramatically different OS which drives people to it, this is a PHONE for god's sake. How revolutionary can a phone be??? I hope I'm proven wrong...

stcanard
Dec 16, 2006, 11:06 PM
Shouldn't it be the job of the antitrust authorities to mandate the phone companies to allow the transfer of a phone number from one provider to another?

You would think, wouldn't you?

So far they are doing a successful job of stonewalling on the "its too hard, we need many years" tactic, and the CRTC is completely clueless with anything to do with technology. So we wait.

Rogers sells SIM cards. I bought a Cingular-branded, but unlocked, Moto V3 on eBay and took it to a Rogers video store and I was able to buy a SIM card, insert it, and activate it, before leaving the store. The SIM card cost me $35. They didn't seem to be confused as to what to do. It was also the first V3 that they saw. Rogers got their V3s about 3 months later.

Okay, then I am completely wrong. Apparently this is more widespread than I thought (I'm probably still carrying horrifying memories from my CDMA experience)

I still stand by the idea that this will take a lot of planning / education by Apple in order to avoid looking too expensive and too complicated -- especially since Apple has a reputation for being expensive, deserved or not.

JonMan
Dec 16, 2006, 11:07 PM
The iphone will NEVER happen. Mark this post!

pistolero
Dec 16, 2006, 11:16 PM
Yeah, yeah, apple are pioneers we get it. Let's home they bring something new to the table, but I'm pretty sure I'm not willing to pay more for something I've been getting for free or nearly free for the last 8 years..

Exactly. which is why this would be more like a regular ipod with phone capabilities. This is not meant to be a cheap or "free" phone with a 2 year contract. that would kill the Ipod brand almost inmediately.

iJawn108
Dec 16, 2006, 11:21 PM
there is so much talk of something that may or may not exist. which is fantastic.
I currently done own a cell but have been looking. I have $1000 kicking around with apples name on it, now all they have to do is release the iphone and leopard and whatever else i like and it's there. :)

Surreal
Dec 16, 2006, 11:33 PM
to those who say no one sells naked sim cards in the US;

they do. they just package a free phone with it. i have my "free" phone in a closet.

matticus008
Dec 17, 2006, 12:48 AM
I have never seen a pre-paid minutes sim card for cell service offered for sale. I am not saying that it doesn't exist elsewhere but I haven't experienced this in my area.
Any Cingular or T-Mobile store will sell you a prepaid SIM card if you ask for one. Refill cards can be purchased at supermarkets, Target, drug stores, Best Buy-type places, or online. I have done this several times when I lived abroad and had to return to the US for a few weeks at a time, or when I wanted a local number.

Since unlocked phones don't exist, nobody sells "just" a sim card, since there aren't any phones that can use it.
Well first, there are plenty of unlocked phones available from online vendors, and occasionally in stores. Further, T-Mobile and a number of other providers will unlock your phone if you ask them to do so. As for prepaid services, it's pretty trivial to get a SIM card and not have to buy a phone every time, even in Canada (but don't go to Rogers, because they'll go behind your back and enter you into a contract and then demand late fees and a massive cancellation fee for their own screwup).

I don't see how the phone could be so superior that it would make people choose it over a contract that will guarrantee you a new free phone every 12 or 18 months [...] Three are offering all this things with a subsidised phone and a crap load of minutes for les than £20 pounds...
Not in the US, they're not. When the RAZR came out, hundreds of thousands of people paid $299 for a locked one on top of the standard plan rates.

How many people are dying to get out of their contracts? Well, Apple can say "come to us, and we'll get you out with no or reduced penalty".
Not in a million years. With cancellation fees being $200+, there is just about zero chance of Apple buying anyone out of anything. As long as the iPhone is sold unlocked, you can just take your old SIM card and use the iPhone with your existing service until the contract's up, at which time you can switch to the Apple MVNO or whatever they end up offering.

Supa_Fly
Dec 17, 2006, 02:25 AM
Arn presented a VERY IMPORTANT part of the equation, and its NOTHING new from what manufacturers already deal with.
I think you miss the point that its not even an option in the U.S for most people.

Where are you going to buy the service from? So I buy a phone and go to Verizon... but wait, they don't offer SIM cards/GSM network.
arn

This major situation GSM SIM card device switching to a CDMA based device. BE VERY careful. Telus Mobility with their MIKE network (the CHIRP CHIRP phones) along with Sprint/Nextel phones BOTH have newer models that USE SIM cards but NOT in the same way as GSM networks do. I'll explain....

In Europe there is a HUGE market for SIM cards for purposes of security codes for buildings, rooms etc. There are ways around security or GSM network cloning - just watch The Bourne Supremacy (or follow the links at the bottom of my post, yes i've researched like mad and I've had access to BOTH Rogers' Nokia switch & Tmobile's Nokia switch (iHLRs ).

Now Number portability was supposed to solve the issue of having a phone number and going to ANY provider you like, however going from say Tmobile/Cingular/West to say Nextel/Sprint/Verizon/Boost then you also had to purchase a new phone. BUT at least you could use your Nextel phone on say Verizon ( I think) just give them the phones ESN #. However here in Canada the CRTC (stupid idiots that limit progression & competition because they think consumers are ID10's) has allowed CDMA carriers Telus & Bell NOT to accept one anothers CDMA ESN #'s of either cellphones. When we finally have # Portability in the next 3 months; I doubt that will change.

Stcanard. YES Fido & Rogers sell naked cards. You should know better. Rogers didnt the first year they went to GSM back in Nov 1, 2001 (they had a huge network problem that day and halted stores from sales nationwide and went full out 24hrs later;) ) However, they did but it cost you $150 when Fido only and STILL only charges $25. Rogers sales reps that are members on HowardForums site will sell you for $10. Funny now how things change.


Okay, then I am wrong -- but I[m pretty sure here, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Virgin (only prepaid) don't sell naked cards.

Heck, I'd just be happy with being able to take my phone number with me when I switch cellular providers!

Just wait for another 3 months.... March 14, 2007 to be exact check it out here ... http://www.shoprogers.com/lnp/lnp_faq.asp

The Bourne Supremacy info.

SIM cards can be used for such things as:
* Health Insurance Cards
* PC Protection
* Gift Certificates
* ID Cards
* Reading most cellphone SIM cards
http://www.gementerprises.com/chipdrive.htm

Now Remember the worlds LARGEST wireless communications technology is GSM by coverage area for roaming or in users in #'s.

Cloning which is very limited information (hence the stop for my digging):
http://nokiafree.org/forums/f33/s
http://www.popularshareware.com/Smart-Card-ToolSet-PRO-screenshot-23743.html

Does these look familiar or simular?
http://www.txsystems.com/chipdrive.html

Choice network technology for iPhone ....

GSM/GPRS/EDGE/3G > economies of scale my friends.

iMacZealot
Dec 17, 2006, 02:39 AM
I honestly don't think the average American knows anything about CDMA, GSM, SIM cards, or phone locks. Due to their head start in the cellular industry, I think Eurasians are more familiar with the general idea of SIMs and unlocked phones. I've looked at a lot of European carrier sites, and most, if not all, had the ability to buy a SIM card off their website. The only ways you can get a SIM only from Cingular or T-Mobile are through their Customer Care departments and retail stores. They are not sold through their websites. As for Sprint and Verizon, well, if it doesn't have eight strategically placed self logos on the phone and an interface tuned to their beat, they won't activate it.

A lot of Americans still think that the people who make the iPod are called "iPod." How the hell do you expect the average American to know what CDMA and GSM are? Do you expect an average American to be able to tell you what a SIM card is? I also think that most Americans think that the only way to buy a phone is through their carrier, and even there, they think that their carrier actually made their phone or that "Nokia" or "Motorola" are actually carriers, too.

Also, I'm going to admit that Americans are cheap. We often get hung up on the piece of paper tied to the product instead of the product itself. Do you think Americans will buy a $500 iPhone? The most popular phone in America is the RAZR, which can often be found for less than a goose egg. People love it not only because the people at the Motorola advertising department are economical geniuses, but also because carriers are practically giving them away. And while the iPhone will definitely catch the eye of the average American consumer, he/she will run when he/she sees the big, unlocked pricetag. Why? Not just because of the price, but Americans won't and don't take the time to understand the concept of unlocking. So, unless if Apple can market it really well (Perhaps to the tune of "a phone and iPod in one") and get the concept of unlocked phones out to Americans, it will either fail or will have to start being subsidised by carriers because Americans want something that is cheap and easy to understand. And that is the American consumer way. God bless America!

timon
Dec 17, 2006, 03:08 AM
If Apple is really on the ball the phone will be a world phone with both GCM and CDMA. There are already phones that do this and Verizon has them so I see no reason why Apple can't use that chip set in their phone. This would allow them to cover everything less iDen, NextTel, which is not used much by the consumer anyway. This and unlocked phones would give Apple access to 95% of the phone market.

I have used Verizon for the last 3-1/2 years. I signed up for a 2 year contract initially so I am now on a month to month basis. I love the fact that I could leave them at any minute but my phone is old, getting crappy and I would really like a new one. (But don't want to sign up for two more years).

I don't mind Verizon's coverage which for me is quite good. I travel across the country on business and never have any problems. But they may be the worst at crippling phones, offering a limited and crappy selection, etc.

While I don't hold any hope that Apple's new phone would work with Verizon, I have been waiting for it to come out to see the hardware and their business plan/solution.

Unlocking phones I think will lower the carrier costs and potentially make it easier to flip. This is a tricky industry and I do have confidence that Apple will shake it up and make some changes. Any change is good in my mind. It can't possibly get any worse or more frustrating than it already is.

koobcamuk
Dec 17, 2006, 03:12 AM
This concept, however, is less familiar in the U.S. and could introduce some confusion to the consumers.

haha. How true. Oh dear. C'mon Apple - lead the way for the US of A!

koobcamuk
Dec 17, 2006, 03:17 AM
I honestly don't think the average American knows anything about CDMA, GSM, SIM cards, or phone locks. Due to their head start in the cellular industry, I think Eurasians are more familiar with the general idea of SIMs and unlocked phones. I've looked at a lot of European carrier sites, and most, if not all, had the ability to buy a SIM card off their website. The only ways you can get a SIM only from Cingular or T-Mobile are through their Customer Care departments and retail stores. They are not sold through their websites. As for Sprint and Verizon, well, if it doesn't have eight strategically placed self logos on the phone and an interface tuned to their beat, they won't activate it.

A lot of Americans still think that the people who make the iPod are called "iPod." How the hell do you expect the average American to know what CDMA and GSM are? Do you expect an average American to be able to tell you what a SIM card is? I also think that most Americans think that the only way to buy a phone is through their carrier, and even there, they think that their carrier actually made their phone or that "Nokia" or "Motorola" are actually carriers, too.

Also, I'm going to admit that Americans are cheap. We often get hung up on the piece of paper tied to the product instead of the product itself. Do you think Americans will buy a $500 iPhone? The most popular phone in America is the RAZR, which can often be found for less than a goose egg. People love it not only because the people at the Motorola advertising department are economical geniuses, but also because carriers are practically giving them away. And while the iPhone will definitely catch the eye of the average American consumer, he/she will run when he/she sees the big, unlocked pricetag. Why? Not just because of the price, but Americans won't and don't take the time to understand the concept of unlocking. So, unless if Apple can market it really well (Perhaps to the tune of "a phone and iPod in one") and get the concept of unlocked phones out to Americans, it will either fail or will have to start being subsidised by carriers because Americans want something that is cheap and easy to understand. And that is the American consumer way. God bless America!

I love this post. So true. In Europe we usually have unbranded phone with unchanged software. We can walk into a shop and buy a new SIM (new number comes with it obviously) from £5 to £10 ($10 to $20). We can walk into a phone shop with $1000 and buy a new phone without a contract. People here are aware that the contract is for the SIM and the number not for the phone. People here know the difference between 3G and 2G and know that there is not a carrier called Nokia because they are the handset manufacturers.

Chundles
Dec 17, 2006, 03:27 AM
How I would manage my phone purchase here:

1. Buy phone.
2. Buy $2 SIM card from provider that offers best deal, probably a pre-paid plan.
3. We pay only for calls made here, we don't pay for calls received.
4. Choose what top up plan I want, whether I keep my call credit forever so that it can't expire or whether I want free provider-to-provider call or whether I want a certain number of free SMS messages with each top up.

That way even if the phone is a bit exxy I make my money back by not being tied into a contract and I pay only for the calls I make.

nplima
Dec 17, 2006, 04:15 AM
if every month I had a few hundred thousand unlocked GSM phones available, where in the USA would you guys like me to sell them?

dnedved
Dec 17, 2006, 04:17 AM
I think the whole difficulty of popping in a SIM is moot. Whether Apple partners with a US GSM carrier or not you can guarantee that:

1.) the store where you buy the phone will have someone to help you pop in a SIM
2.) the stores selling the SIMs will be able to help you put the SIM in your iPhone (they already do with every other brand of mobile!!!)

Even if they don't partner, Apple will definitely resell service or have someone in the store selling the service. They'll want you to leave the store with a functioning handset -- it will be a necessity to make the sale!

It may be that most people in the US don't typically buy their phones and SIMs separately, but plenty of people already do. When I was living in the US I did starting around 6 years ago. Bought a tri-band phone on Ebay and bought a SIM from Cingular. Go to ebay and look at the US market for unlocked GSM phones.

Sure the people in the Cingular store were idiots and made lots of mistakes, but they didn't freak out when I came into the store with my own phone and asked for service. In fact I had a pretty hot phone at the time and a couple of the geekier ones walked over to play with it and chat about it. They may be dumb as rocks, but they do their job day-in and day-out, so they get at least a little bit capable at it. It's not rocket science by a long shot!

matticus008
Dec 17, 2006, 04:48 AM
In Europe there is a HUGE market for SIM cards for purposes of security codes for buildings, rooms etc. There are ways around security or GSM network cloning - just watch The Bourne Supremacy (or follow the links at the bottom of my post, yes i've researched like mad and I've had access to BOTH Rogers' Nokia switch & Tmobile's Nokia switch (iHLRs ).
There's a huge market for smart cards worldwide, actually. SIM cards aren't used for anything other than cell phones, though (except optionally in Finland). Just about any reusable key can be reproduced (RFID, key fobs, magnetic strips, smart cards, physical keys) given the right tools. This is nothing new and unlikely to change.

johnnyjibbs
Dec 17, 2006, 05:19 AM
I'm sure Apple doesn't want to be tied in to any particular network and may go it alone, selling the all-in-one package of OS, service provider and hardware-maker all in one, just like they do with the Macs.

The phone will be stylish and good, but probably have certain technology that is old and pay you a premium for it, maybe a cut-down version of iTunes (although I'm not sure where the iPod fits in with that) and iPhoto and of course good syncing and connectivity options with a Mac. But I bet it will cost an absolute fortune.

Since I live in Europe, and given that the mobile phone market dynamics are complicated and vary from region to region, I expect any Apple iPhone to be a US-only service for a good amount of time first, so I'm not getting any hopes up.

Roller
Dec 17, 2006, 07:17 AM
While Apple could sell unlocked phones and then make you go to a cell carrier to buy service, it would be uncharacteristic of the way Steve Jobs approaches things. Steve's mantra is seamless integration... that's why the ITMS exists. With cell phones, he's going to want you to be able to walk out of the Apple store with a fully functional device in hand, whether it's by partnering with an existing carrier or acting as an MVNO.

Why would anyone go for this? Not the hardware alone - although Apple could probably come up with a better industrial design, the key's going to be the software, especially the way it integrates with OS X.

pistolero
Dec 17, 2006, 08:06 AM
While Apple could sell unlocked phones and then make you go to a cell carrier to buy service, it would be uncharacteristic of the way Steve Jobs approaches things. Steve's mantra is seamless integration... that's why the ITMS exists. With cell phones, he's going to want you to be able to walk out of the Apple store with a fully functional device in hand, whether it's by partnering with an existing carrier or acting as an MVNO.


I agree. I just don't see the point on selling an ipod phone at the store and then telling you to go to Cingular or Tmobile store to get a plan to use it and then figure out how to input all the carrier settings yourself. however, MVNO aren't very profitable at the moment; for example Ampd and Helio are bleeding money.

puuukeey
Dec 17, 2006, 09:12 AM
• joins of "teh social"
• amazing development tools
• has eyballs that follow your mouse around the screen
• dynamic advertizing improving your recognizablitiy
• it's a swiss army knife of computer tools
• fingerprint key fobs, magnetic strips, smart cards, physical keys
• its got a built in calendar
• known bugs include "doesn't do anything" "power cable sucks ass and costs 80 bucks"
• its your savior in a bottle with bad behavior on the throttle
• come one come all its the iphone with a GPS uplink that will have your jaw hit the floor
• It will have a trash can AND a recycling bin
• OLED LCD Plasma ambilight display
• comes in iphone, iphone XL, iphone GS and iPhone 3000
• keeps you warm on lonely nights
• multi touch single touch RF IR technology
• RFID tags to track your every movement and when you have bowel movements
• lowers prices so YOU the consumer have a higher standard of living
• small form factor
• substantial feel
• its a swan in teacup, drives camels through needles
• new noise reduction unit keeps you from hearing noise
• IONIC!
• powers via usb, car charger, wall wart 110 and 220 and A 440
• not just a phone. its a solution and a revaluation
• new 2 in one technology uses shampoo and conditioner
• ass warmers come standard with fold out display
• patented AND patent pending
• will drive stock prices through the roof
• integrates with USB poll dancer and fondu pot
• cooled by vegetable oil
• can be used as a wii controller via PS3 adapter
• perfect for dating
• built in holodeck
• open source security features
• automatically emails you fark updates
• recognizes morse code and swahili
• free harmonic fingerprint recognition mobilization engine
• lengthens your commute in seconds
• noise cancelation
• runs on love
• rechargeable indestructible exploding lithium ion photon battery
• built in SCSI zip DAT minidisc and floppy drive
• liquid cooled
• tamagotchi jenga and sodoku
• its pin compatible with amd ppc motorola and GSM phones
• stereoscopic goggles
• Java Basic C++ Logo smalltalk and TCP/IP/I really gotta pee.
• blood tests with out painful pin pricks
• support vonage and skype
• 5 blade action
• runs on pure corn (not biodiesil, just plain corn)
• recieves faxes
• more than just a name
• direct integration with iTV
• force feeds starving babies in africa metal shavings
• prevents proliferation treaties
• brews the perfect cappuccino
• multitouch 3d oled display with 40,000 songs
• hdmi port which plugs into your face!!!!!!
• fight off terr'ists.
• USB PLIAR WIRE
• fios dsl cable compatible
• more energy efficient, consumer friendly and lowers the bottom line
• built in mic pre amps
• teledildonics
• future proof
• anti life and anti choice
• so zen that it's not there
• comes in every color and a (RED) version
• causes and prevents Cancer, Parkinson's and birth defects
• ask your doctor if iPhone is right for you
• ichat av
• full of zagat resteraunt reviews
• signs checks with laser etching
• iTunes built in to the purpose built hardware
• surfs the web with firefox and QT
• reminds you to take your pills
• better syncing with ical, iLife, Ideath, and iWork, and iSocialSecurity!
• voice control, voice synthesis, brail and esperanto
• eats kitties
• automatically downloads the latest harry potter and tiny nibbles
• integrated second life.
• complete support you tube enabled footwear!!!!
• syncs your ical with the latest presidential scandals
• SDIF, WAVE,SDII,AIFF,RAW, mp1, mp2 mp3 mp4, ogg vorbis and throgs neck, 1300 kbps per second!!!!evendy levin!
• going to play nintendo DS games with the multitouch 3d display and
• compatibility with windows, 3d studio max and built in google
• come in white plastic, black and red Utube version and special all black marilyn manson version fully loaded with nietze audio books
• the second version will be in the platinum and titanium.
• does dialup
• talking moose
* its going to expand the apple brand into the toaster territory
• it will never be released in france
• HAHA NEWTONS!!!!
• eats palm treos and has little gadget sex with side kicks
• plugs straight into your new icar,VW beetle, PT cruiser, and dodge neon.... Hi.
• expandable, future proof and retractable
• the batteries have gun powder in them
• it's got a virtual jeff raskin on it.
• taser and pepper spray
• 96 kHz 24bit with thousands of colors.
• backward sideways and forward compatible
• its all offloaded on to the graphics card.
• act now and get a free pass to the front of the genius bar line
• incompatible with verizon
• blows moores law out of the water
• HD DVD BluRay CD and 8track compatible
• gets its time from an international universal atomic clock server in cupertino HQ
• mapquest on star and RSS feeds and pod/vid/textcasts
• screen saver module with flying toasters.
• exclusively on verizon network
• boss mode
• anti virus software so hackers dont steal you "home made" pornos
• the DRM code adds nin terabytes to the phone totaling 9 extra lbs
• it slices it dices and for god sake stop this fricken rumor


If you experience chest pain, crashes, nausea, fatal errors, or any other discomforts during email or sex, seek immediate medical help. The most common side effects of iPhone use are headache, facial flushing, and upset stomach, and strained eyes. Less commonly, bluish vision, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light may briefly occur. In rare instances, men using iPhone (oral erectile dysfunction medicines, including iPhone) reported a sudden decrease or loss of vision. It is not possible to determine whether these events are related directly to these medicines or to other factors. If you experience sudden decrease or loss of vision, stop using iPhone, including iPhone, and call a doctor right away.

Although erections lasting for more than 4 hours may occur rarely with all ED treatments in this drug class, to avoid long-term injuries, it is important to seek immediate medical help.

If you are older than age 65, or have serious liver or kidney problems, your doctor may start you at iPhoneShuffle. If you are taking protease inhibitors, such as for the treatment of HIV, your doctor may recommend a 25-mg dose and may limit you to a maximum single dose of 25 mg of iPhone in a 48-hour period.

mccldwll
Dec 17, 2006, 10:05 AM
If Apple is really on the ball the phone will be a world phone with both GCM and CDMA. There are already phones that do this and Verizon has them so I see no reason why Apple can't use that chip set in their phone. This would allow them to cover everything less iDen, NextTel, which is not used much by the consumer anyway. This and unlocked phones would give Apple access to 95% of the phone market.

Something like this certainly would be the key, and why not. While this may not be what the quoted poster is referencing, it would be great to have a phone which picks up (or you select) the strongest signal from any given carrier (CDMA or GSM) for any given spot. When getting phone service, order the "buffet" not just a single entre. Have Apple contract with all major carriers for "bandwidth", and if one doesn't want to play ball (if they can legally refuse, that is), that carrier essentially gets locked out from iPhone (or customer can buy for $600, but only $15/month through the Apple Universal Network (the"AUN")), over 24 months for AUN customers. "Notice to Buyers: X Network does not participate in our network so if you need to use X, deal with them." Forget iTunes. Would anyone here care to have a phone that would just work anywhere any kind of cell signal is available? Who in his right mind would start out to create the kind of cell system we now have in the US? Think it calls for simplifying?

WilliamLondon
Dec 17, 2006, 11:08 AM
Since I live in Europe, and given that the mobile phone market dynamics are complicated and vary from region to region, I expect any Apple iPhone to be a US-only service for a good amount of time first, so I'm not getting any hopes up.

I'm in the UK and agree with you - would be a shame, especially if they go the non-GSM, non SIM route. We'll not be able to get one for quite awhile if that's the case - I mean, how long was it before they launched ITMS in the UK?? And my 1 year contract with O2 is up in Jan. :-(

vmardian
Dec 17, 2006, 11:11 AM
Something like this certainly would be the key, and why not.

Because it would add to the cost, size, weight, and complexity, for not much benefit considering most networks are GSM.

AppliedVisual
Dec 17, 2006, 12:13 PM
Because it would add to the cost, size, weight, and complexity, for not much benefit considering most networks are GSM.

Yes, but two of the USA's largest carriers are CDMA - primarily Verizon, which has the broadest coverage. If the iPhone is not available as CDMA (either in the form of an all-in-one "world phone" or separate CDMA and GSM versions), then Apple is literally cutting themselves out of 60% of the market in the US. There's no way they won't have a CDMA version at some point. However, if Apple picks a specific US carrier (most likely Cingular, if this is so), then they can have a GSM version exclusive to Cingular and later offer CDMA for other carriers after exclusive contracts run out. Just as other manufacturers do.

iMacZealot
Dec 17, 2006, 12:26 PM
I love this post. So true. In Europe we usually have unbranded phone with unchanged software. We can walk into a shop and buy a new SIM (new number comes with it obviously) from £5 to £10 ($10 to $20). We can walk into a phone shop with $1000 and buy a new phone without a contract. People here are aware that the contract is for the SIM and the number not for the phone. People here know the difference between 3G and 2G and know that there is not a carrier called Nokia because they are the handset manufacturers.

People are just more familiar with that concept over there, and I also think it's because your currencies (namely the british pound -- my god! $75 for a cab ride in london???) allow phone prices to be a little cheaper.

* * *

I don't think the unlocked idea is bad -- in fact, I think it's the only way to go. I just think they need to market the hell out of it to get the idea across, and they already have a lot of channels to work through.

* * *

I just came up with a thought:
Cingular: 60M
Verizon: 60M
Sprint: 60M
T-Mobile: 30M

GSM: Cingular + T-Mobile = 90M
CDMA: Verizon + Sprint = 120M

There are more people on CDMA than GSM in America -- if they do unlocked GSM only, they'll only get the smaller half of the market. How'd they address this issue?

Seasought
Dec 17, 2006, 12:44 PM
The concept of an "unlocked" phone is more popular in Europe and Asia, but customers can buy a phone independent of service and buy service in the form of SIM cards from Cingular or T-Mobile. This concept, however, is less familiar in the U.S. and could introduce some confusion to the consumers.

Bring on the "confusion" I say. :D

ronrosell
Dec 17, 2006, 01:00 PM
I agree with those who say Apple will need to release a CDMA version of this phone, at least in North America where CDMA has a leading market share. (This assumes, of course, that they will be making this phone available to work with other carriers' networks, and not asking consumers to switch to an Apple-branded MVNO network).

Beyond market share an additional reason, in the US and Canada, is the availability of much higher-speed data networks from the CDMA providers ... Verizon, Sprint, Bell, Telus. Remember that Jobs & Co. are not averse to pushing the envelope when it comes to getting people to adopt newer technologies. They did it with floppy disks. They recently did it with modems. It would be entirely consistent for them to roll out this phone with data services (tied to .mac) that benefit greatly from being on the fastest possible networks.

In Europe, Asia and elsewhere the situation may be different ... 3G and more evolved EDGE networks may be in place ... but in North America, if you're interested in mobile data coverage your best bets are WiFi hotspots and EVDO CDMA networks. That's likely to matter to Apple.

Certainly they're likely to offer a GSM version as well ... Apple markets worldwide ... but I don't see them locking themselves down to GSM providers any more than Motorola does.

Finally, as to pricing and whether Apple will sell unlocked versions apart from the carriers ... remember, it's not just a phone! It's probably an iPod and a PDA as well. Unless you win a raffle, you don't get either of those free these days ... people already pay a lot of money for them, and some people, including me, would gladly pay not to have to carry two or three of those devices.

I wouldn't be surprised if I could walk into my local Apple store (in the US) and ask for one of three models: CDMA-A, CDMA-B, or GSM quad band. That would cover all of the carriers except Nextel. You can get an unlocked quad-band GSM phone to be recognized by a network by plugging in a SIM, and the CDMA networks will similarly allow you to register a compatible phone with them, wherever you got it. Moreover, you might be able to switch among those carriers by merely buying and changing a removable chipset ... allowing consumers to pick the providers and plans they want.

QuarterSwede
Dec 17, 2006, 01:14 PM
I'm tired of people saying US consumers are stupid. Almost everyone I know is also tired of that marketing. Most people don't believe most of the crap politicians and business men sell but we are forced to buy it because we have no other choice.

I really do hope Apple comes along and gets rid of the idiotic locked phones strategy. Honestly, no one likes contracts except the companies selling them.

FrankBlack
Dec 17, 2006, 01:35 PM
I really do hope Apple comes along and gets rid of the idiotic locked phones strategy. Honestly, no one likes contracts except the companies selling them.

Well put. I also don't believe that American consumers are stupid. As others have noted, we buy into certain things because there is frequently no other choice. We've all seen and read the ads from the varioius cell phone companies, and they all look and sound alike at this point.

I have Cingular, and I have no complaints about the service itself. It always works, and there are always 3-5 bars showing wherever I go. But, I would love to able to simply purchase my own phone, then get service from any of the carriers.

Sort of off the topic: In adult hands, most cell phones last a long time. I know a lot of people with "older" (four to five years old) handsets, and they work just fine. Well, several of these people have recently received nice notes with their statements, saying that if they do not upgrade to new handsets soon, they will be charged extra. Cingular and Verizon are two outfits doing this. Anyone get one of these notices?

Applespider
Dec 17, 2006, 01:49 PM
But nobody sells unlocked phones on a contract.

Not strictly true. My last 3 phones from O2 have all been bought from an O2 store and been unlocked when I tried another SIM in them :D And had a minimum of O2 branding and changes to the firmware.

T
It would be nice to have the option of buying a phone outright for a smaller service fee. But that option isn't available, so you'd be stupid not to get the free phone

The past 2 years, I've been offered the choice of having a new phone OR keeping my current phone and having a subsidised service plan for the next year.

I'm quite happy with my current 'new phone' each year - I keep one old one for emergencies and sell one on to someone in the office on PAYG who wants an updated one. There are a lot of great phones out there that I can get for 'nothing' each year - the Apple phone would have to offer a lot more than just being better at synching with iTunes for me to want to buy one outright.

Goldfinger
Dec 17, 2006, 02:12 PM
Sort of off the topic: In adult hands, most cell phones last a long time. I know a lot of people with "older" (four to five years old) handsets, and they work just fine. Well, several of these people have recently received nice notes with their statements, saying that if they do not upgrade to new handsets soon, they will be charged extra. Cingular and Verizon are two outfits doing this. Anyone get one of these notices?

Wouldn't that be some sort of extortion and a pretty damn illegal thing to do ?

McKs
Dec 17, 2006, 02:26 PM
personally, at first, I think Apple will be selling iPhones, just like they sell iPods. In the store and online. I think Apple is willing to bet that people will toss the phone that came with their plan and just use the iPhone instead.
This also allows them to make the device mostly an iPod, with the added benefit that it can also make phonecalls.
I could easily be wrong, but it seems to me, if they can come up with an iPod that also has basic phone functionality (phone, camera, calendar) with a really good interface (a first for any phone) and really good syncing software on the Mac/PC side (another first) they'd be able to find more than enough people to buy one. Apple is always about the integration between hardware and software, and this is where the biggest fault lies with phones today, and why so many people don't use 80% of their phones' features.
This situation isn't actually all that different from where mp3 players stood before the iPod...

Once the iPhone takes off, then they'll start thinking about putting (their no doubt already far-along-in-development) smart phone on the market.

Flowbee
Dec 17, 2006, 02:27 PM
Well, several of these people have recently received nice notes with their statements, saying that if they do not upgrade to new handsets soon, they will be charged extra. Cingular and Verizon are two outfits doing this. Anyone get one of these notices?

Wouldn't that be some sort of extortion and a pretty damn illegal thing to do ?

Not quite extortion...

Cingular, for instance, is trying to simplify its network by encouraging analog and TDMA customers to move onto modern GSM services as soon as possible. It's doing so by adding a $5 monthly surcharge for users of the old technologies...

...the company says that the surcharge is simply covering the increased cost per analog and TDMA customer, as the fixed costs of running these networks remain while the number of paying users is dropping rapidly.

It's not happening fast enough for Cingular's taste, though. The company would love to stop supporting the two aging technologies, and the bandwidth they occupy is valuable wireless real estate.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060801-7400.html

Goldfinger
Dec 17, 2006, 02:45 PM
Not quite extortion...



http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060801-7400.html

Ah that clears it up. I thought they were just adding some fees without any serious reasons but to get you to upgrade to a newer phone.

Philsy
Dec 17, 2006, 02:55 PM
Of course, it's possible that Apple won't sell the phone in the US market because it's too complicated. The rest of the world is a huge market ;)

buffalo
Dec 17, 2006, 06:22 PM
For all you people who want Apple to provide their own network, would you really but into it? As much as I want the iPhone, I know I wouldn't. My family and most of my friends use Verizon, so it doesn't make any sense to lose the in-calling.

BuzWeaver
Dec 17, 2006, 06:26 PM
I'm wondering how cost effective this will be. The cellular market is pretty tapped, dare I say its like reinventing the wheel to get some wheel action. :)

Dr.Gargoyle
Dec 17, 2006, 09:00 PM
I agree with those who say Apple will need to release a CDMA version of this phone, at least in North America where CDMA has a leading market share.
I disagree.
It really doesn't make economical sense to develop a CDAM phone, at least not in a initial stage. The world market share is basically too small. GSM/UMTS has more than one billion users. CDMA users are just a fraction of that.
Besides, isn't the biggest CDMA player i US (Verizon) known its procrastination when it comes to accepting new phones in their net? I doubt Apple would want to become that dependent on a single company that clearly has conflicting interest when it comes e.g. to downloading music.

failsafe1
Dec 17, 2006, 09:09 PM
GSM all the way! No CDMA or others for me. I like the pop out sim card feature and the world funcitonality.

Chundles
Dec 17, 2006, 09:15 PM
GSM is the way it should be, if it's not going to be a 3G or 4G phone then it's gotta be GSM.

I'm on a contract now but that will finish eventually and then all I'd need to do is grab the phone, a $2 SIM card and get them to carry over my number (it's free to do this here) and I'd be all set.

iMacZealot
Dec 17, 2006, 10:51 PM
I don't see why you'd need to make CDMA or GSM only. Why not one GSM and one CDMA so you get all your bases covered? Besides, there are other places in the world besides North America that uses CDMA.

pistolero
Dec 17, 2006, 11:24 PM
:rolleyes: once again, Verizon does not support third party phones, they dont even activate them. Their phones are locked, have crippled bluetooth and have all the same ugly red interface (except the smartphones). Do you think Apple will destroy the ipod interface with the ugly verizon logo everywhere? and do you think Verizon wants you to use their network to download music from the competing apple store? I dont see any CDMA apple phone in north america.

peeInMyPantz
Dec 18, 2006, 12:10 AM
iPhone is announced... but it's cisco.. not apple
here (http://www.engadget.com/2006/12/18/cisco-not-apple-announces-iphone-branded-voip-phones/)

MrCrowbar
Dec 18, 2006, 12:16 AM
I'd actually buy one pf those cicso iPhones if it had video... waiting for the "Apple phone" then. Actually, I'm glad ít won't be called iPhone... such a dull name.

peeInMyPantz
Dec 18, 2006, 12:18 AM
I'd actually buy one pf those cicso iPhones if it had video...
what's the point? it's just a normal wifi skype phone

Tork
Dec 18, 2006, 12:33 AM
How did no one know that Cisco had "iPhone" trademarked?

peeInMyPantz
Dec 18, 2006, 12:38 AM
How did no one know that Cisco had "iPhone" trademarked?
Cisco was probably laughing behind when we were all talking about rumours of iphone by apple... I hope apple fan will just boycott iphone by cisco.. damn cisco!

anyway.. i'm glad that apple phone will not be called iphone.. it's such a common name anyway.. but i don't want a macphone either

iMacZealot
Dec 18, 2006, 01:06 AM
:rolleyes: once again, Verizon does not support third party phones, they dont even activate them. Their phones are locked, have crippled bluetooth and have all the same ugly red interface (except the smartphones). Do you think Apple will destroy the ipod interface with the ugly verizon logo everywhere? and do you think Verizon wants you to use their network to download music from the competing apple store? I dont see any CDMA apple phone in north america.

There's always Sprint. :)

mrthieme
Dec 18, 2006, 03:35 AM
:rolleyes: once again, Verizon does not support third party phones, they dont even activate them. Their phones are locked, have crippled bluetooth and have all the same ugly red interface (except the smartphones). Do you think Apple will destroy the ipod interface with the ugly verizon logo everywhere? and do you think Verizon wants you to use their network to download music from the competing apple store? I dont see any CDMA apple phone in north america.

Good, I don't want Verizon's fangs anywhere near my iphone, I would rather not see iphone come out than have it ruined by the *******s at Verizon. If it turns out as nice as we all hope, and Apple provides their own service plan, I for one would probably buy out of my existing horrible contract to get one.

slackpacker
Dec 18, 2006, 04:56 AM
Hey maybe the cell services will start charging us realistic prices on cell service now.

ready2switch
Dec 18, 2006, 08:39 AM
They're really that scared of removing the battery?

Wierd.

I've owned something in the order of 10+ unlocked GSM phones. Despite being an avid phone geek who routinely swaps the SIMs around, I've never had to do anything approximating to "taking apart a phone" - removing battery excepted - to switch them. (Ok, the Motorola V66 requires you remove a panel on the front of the phone, and the Nokia 2190 - which doesn't work with modern SIMs - has an additional panel you have to remove, a panel clearly meant to be removed. And, of course, there's my good old Motorola Graphite, my first, which didn't require the removal of anything. It used full size SIM cards, which you slid in a slot, and slid a button to eject.)

If you're not frightened of removing a CD from a portable CD player, it's hard to believe you'll be frightened of changing a SIM card in a mobile phone.

Yes, they're really that scared of removing the battery. There have been many times a co-worker comes to me in a panic because their phone is frozen or they've dropped it and it's now in pieces (battery popped off). A simple remove-replace of the battery usually works, but they (in their words) "didn't want to break it". Sometimes they cringe when I push the battery out (or pop it back in), but I've earned enough trust in the technology department that they no longer burst into tears. :p

jakemd
Dec 18, 2006, 09:37 AM
I don't think Apple originally wanted to do a phone. They said "Motorola, there's no hard feelings about us going to Intel now is there? Here, hows about we give you iTunes and you make a snazzy phone out of it." They created the ROKR, which was a huge flop, but the interest was there for a music enabled phone. Steve probably said to himself, "If you want it done right you have got to do it yourself" So he decided to make the iPhone. Like the iPod the experience will be perfectly seamless (for the most part) and everyone can use it.

Thats why I don't think there will be an unlocked phone. As much as we all might want it, its just not as easy or convenient for the Average American, this is not to say that the Avg. Amer. lacks intelligence and couldn't figure it out, the question is do they want to? Case in point: my Sprint Treo got the LCD busted the other day when i smashed my belt clip.(dont ask I know I'm an idiot)
I took it over to the local Sprint Store and told them what happened and with the insurance on my plan (5 extra a month) walked out with a new handset, activated and all my settings transfered. Thats convenience. I could have done all that myself, but it only took them 20 minutes in store. Thats what I like to call seamless integration. What Steve like to have on his products. Walking in, picking up a phone and knowing exactly what your going to pay per month and walking otu with a working phone is great, one store one stop.
(the same could be said about dish network where you don't own the boxes but they are included in your monthy fee, or directv where you have to buy the $200 boxes yourself and then sign up for the plan. Dish network requires less startup but 5 more a month then the comparable directv plan)

I think that Apple will follow the Razr model in terms of how that was released. That first went to Cingular as a exclusive phone and then a year later was placed in other service providers. Because of Sprint and Verizons large market share, CDMA is not something they can ignore, just like placing the iPod on windows. We all know the mac is better but we need to give all people a chance to use it. (excpet here in the states CDMA is the better one right now).

If apple wanted to run their own network, they could, but they would have to wait 2 years to see the kinds of numbers that they would be looking for as "success". Most people are in contracts, and don't just jump ship to a new provider who they know nothing about (service wise) it would take 2 years for enough people to be released from their contracts. In cases like mine, I have an excellent contract with sprint, and I have had it for 5 years now. Since I keep re upping the contract, they can't raise my rates, or charge me other fees. There are many people in contracts like that who wouldn't want to sign with Apple because it might be more expensive.

So I think that it will be released to Cingular for their stores and then in a year we might see the other networks pick it up.
An unlocked phone would just not fit into Apples plan of making everything just work right out of the box. People would have to go to the apple store to buy the phone then to a carrier to get a sim card (which you can do, but its not the easiest thing in the US, most store reps have no clue how to get one)
It just has to work. I also think that they may have to allow subsidization of the phones, because thats the model thats in place.

The phone market is not one Steve can come in and say "I wish to introduce a change in the way your doing things", and have it work. In the music industry, there wasn't a thriving digital legal market, and the iPod helped the legal size of things and made the RIAA open to its introductions, and thats when Apple became the biggest and its model pricing won and is still with us. There is not that kind of leverage in the wireless market, because these phone companies are established in this market (for some its all they do) and they don't need Apple to combat anything illegal or anything like that (you could make a case that the RIAA didn't need apple either...but anyway).

i think that says it.

marmotte
Dec 18, 2006, 10:34 AM
I can't wait for a player to change how the cell phone market functions in the US. It's so dysfunctional it isn't funny anymore.The European and Asian carriers are years ahead (decades?) of the US in that matter and it's another area where the US is lagging behind.

As a company I see why Apple would back a more universal standard for their phone like GSM. They will only need one product to sell in the entire world and the superiority of that standard in Europe and Asia (more features, better value), would position them immediately in the upper segment/think different segment of the market.

As far as price is concerned, it will be a difficult one. Providing an unlocked phone will be a way to increase the perceived value. Also providing a way to make VOIP calls or linking the phone with iChat will also be of value. As many readers have pointed out, the value is not in combining the cell phone and the MP3 player, since both have reached sizes which make them small enough to carry together. In fact affluent buyers who would be able to afford an Apple phone, would also be more likely to want a video iPod and would therefore attach little value to a small-screen, 4GB capacity MP3 player capability in the Apple phone.

toots66
Dec 18, 2006, 04:41 PM
that certainly doesn't happen in the UK or Poland. you get a phone subsidised on a contract term of 12 - 18 months, and you get a phone, but it's SIM-locked to the network. until recently companies didn't create the same annoying software customisations that their US counterparts did, but they are doing this on an increasing basis now.. And branding phones themselves, unique to their network (O2 X1, XDA; Orange SPV etc).

But nobody sells unlocked phones on a contract.

Many contract O2 and Vodafone phones are unlocked - my last 2 phones for example. If you buy via Carphone Warehouse, your Orange or T-Mobile phone may well be unlocked too as it's easier for them to stock & sell a generic GSM phone, and the operator's contract SIM is separate.

FrankBlack
Dec 22, 2006, 02:16 PM
Not quite extortion...
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060801-7400.html

Thanks Flowbee. I knew there was an article somewhere.

Again, I have no complaints about the quality of Cingular's service. I just think people should be able to walk into an electronics store, buy a phone, and have service through any company they want.