Sunday, March 16, 2008

iPhone locked to Telstra Next G - does it matter?

Would you have second thoughts about buying an iPhone if it was locked to Next G?

The Australian iPhone rumour mill has gone into overdrive thanks to the fact Sensis (an arm of Telstra) is advertising for an iPhone software developer. Of course Sensis will probably want to develop iPhone apps regardless of which local telco gets Apple's blessing, so it 's not really the smoking gun that local iPhone watchers are looking for.

Anyway, in the US, iPhones are locked to the AT&T network - although it's easy to hack them to run on any network and many Aussies already have themselves a slice of iPhone goodness. Of course they're only 2G iPhones, so they can't take advantage of the fast HSDPA data speeds of networks like Telstra's Next G. This is a blessing for Telstra, as the lack of 3G in the first-gen iPhones would be one of the few things stopping more Australians importing iPhones. A second-gen 3G iPhone is believed to be in the works for countries such as Australia, with battery life the main hurdle to overcome.

You don't need to be a mathematician to see Telstra's Next G network is horrendously expensive compared to the competition, although it does offer the best coverage outside the cities. This is set to change, with Vodafone and Optus recently announcing newtwork expansion plans. I have to confess to being a Next G user, because of the superior coverage, but many city slickers would probably be better served by 3, Optus or Vodafone.

If Apple decides to lock the iPhone to one telco, it can't please everyone. If it goes to Next G people will obviously whinge about the pricing, if it goes to another network they'll whinge about the coverage. If it goes to Next G, the smart thing for Telstra to do would be to introduce a special iPhone data bundle - giving iPhone users something like 1GB for $25 a month. That would be a tick in every box and perhaps even enough to bring some hacked iPhone users back into the fold.

So when the iPhone eventually lands on our shores, how do you think it will play out? Will Apple's choice of telco partner influence your decision on whether to by an iPhone?


No comments: