Thursday, 13 September 2012 08:44

Apple iPhone 5 – Australia one of the first

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Apple’s iPhone 5 will be available in Australia at the same time as the US. Major carriers have already announced its availability. Apple wasted no time in announcing the iPhone 5’s availability in Australia, As the Apple corporate website was taken down during the press conference so that the iPhone 5 could be included, Apple’s Australian website just needed a comparatively simple update. And Apple Australia’s iPhone 5 press release hit journalist’s email inboxes shortly after 5am on Thursday, just as the announcement was being made in the USA.

Australia is one of just nine countries getting the new iPhone immediately. The others are Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA. Optus and Telstra have already announced availability from 21 September, though Optus beat Telstra by some hours.

One controversial aspect of the iPhone’s launch in Australia is its list price. While this doesn’t overly concern many people, because most of them purchase their phones under a usage plan from a carrier, the differences in list price between the USA and Australia is significant. The 16, 32 and 64 GB models are listed in the USA at $US199, $299 and $399. Australian list prices are $799, $899 and $999 respectively.

The prices breaks are so regular it makes you wonder about the extent to which the reflect production costs. The 64 GB model cost twice as much as the 16 GB model in the USA, but only 25 percent more in Australia.

The Australian prices include GST, while the American ones don’t, but any way you look at it the price hike in Australia is substantial. There has been a lot of talk about high Australian prices for technology, which the vendors explain in all sorts of ways. But this cannot be justified.

I asked Apple Australia why the higher price. “No outright price has been announced for the US so you cannot make a direct comparison. The US price announced is part of a two year contract. The Australian price is an outright price inclusive of taxes.”

Apples and apples, I suppose. Equally of concern to many Australia users is the dropping of Google Maps for Apple’s own proprietary product. Apple has invested big time in building up its cartographic capabilities in the USA, but we have no way of knowing how good Apple’s maps will be in Australia.

Again, Apple has assured us that “Maps will be available in Australia and will include satellite, directions, traffic, local search and flyover.” Apple’s maps are getting rave reviews in North America – let’s hope they’re also that good here.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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