3 network passes on iPhone

28 Jun 2007

It is yet to be decided which operator the iPhone will be partnering with in Ireland but European mobile operator 3 has said it will not be taking on Apple’s most anticipated product ever given its current 2G capability

Graeme Slattery, head of music for 3 Ireland, told siliconrepublic.com: “We certainly wouldn’t be taking it in the current form. It’s a 2G handset and we’re a 3G operator. The speed of downloads is really important to us.”

Slattery admitted that on appearance it looks like a great handset, in line with the beautiful design of other Apple products, but that Irish consumers may not have considered the network charges of downloading content from a 2G phone.

“There’s been so much talk about the iPhone but I’m not sure the reality of the product has entered consumers’ minds.

“It’s not going to be like visiting the iTunes store on your computer to buy music because you’re going to be hit with a data charge from a 2G operator. It’s going to make a track very expensive to purchase.”

The iPhone will go on sale tomorrow at 6pm local time across the US, at US$499 for the 4GB model and US$599 for the 8GB one.

Given its expense, Slattery feels that there is definitely room for the iPhone in Ireland but that it will be a very niche product, questioning Apple’s decision to market the iPhone at such a high price in the US.

“They won’t sell high volumes at that price point (in Europe),” he maintained.

He says that four or five years ago a phone of this calibre would have been seen as breaking the boundaries and thus the price would be justified. However, now he thinks Apple should be playing a catch-up role in the mobile market.

“It will come across as being this Holy Grail of innovation in America because 3G hasn’t really hit there yet; the networks are very much GSM. Even two years ago the whole ideology of texting hadn’t taken off.”

Slattery doesn’t see the possibility of Apple introducing the iPhone to Europe in a retail-only strategy, saying it will have to have an operator on board to effectively launch the product.

It remains to be seen when the iPhone will hit the European market but Slattery said he would be “very, very shocked” to see an iPhone in Ireland in 2007, operator or not.

By Marie Boran