Friday, 02 May 2008 18:31

iSpy with my little i, something beginning with 'œ3G iPhone'

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So, CNET.com.au says an anonymous industry insider has confirmed Optus will be one of the carriers in Australia to get the iPhone, while not being an exclusive deal. Surely it’s a 3G iPhone, and if Telstra doesn’t also get it, you can bet they’d be mighty unhappy.

A new revolution in telecommunications is set to begin with the worldwide launch of the 3G iPhone, or so my little i, with which iSpy, is telling me.

No, I’m not hearing iVoices in my iHead, I’m just using my common iSense, which is tingling just as it does for iSpidey.

CNET.com.au says it’s been told that Optus will get the iPhone, that it’s not an exclusive deal, and that they’re expecting ‘new models’ but can’t confirm if it’s a 3G iPhone or not.

Well, a lot of that seems to confirm what the MacTalk form people were talking about a few weeks ago when they came out with the stunning rumour that the iPhone would be sold in Australia as an unlocked device.

Clearly, all free thinking, iPhone desiring peoples of Australia (and likely the world) would love to get their hands on an officially unlocked iPhone as it would cease forcing people to give up their favourite carrier just because Apple wants it to be so.

Apple famously takes the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to computing – Apple knows what’s best for you and if you don’t like it, hey, you can always use Windows or Linux or a Commodore 64 or something.

Apple’s experiment with the 2G iPhone has proven stunningly successful, with plenty of countries around the world sporting unlocked iPhones despite their official unavailability.

But selling officially unlocked iPhones would give consumers the freedom to choose whatever carrier they desire, and would force carriers to come out with competitive iPhone plans, offering large amounts of included data, something that most carriers (but not all) have been loathe to do.

It would also suggest that the 3G iPhone will come with both an 850MHz and a 2100MHz 3.5G chip inside, allowing Apple to sell a single model that will work on Telstra’s Next G network, while also working on Three Mobile, Optus and Vodafone – with 2G compatibility built-in as standard.


But really, the most exiting thing about an unlocked 3G iPhone, beyond the 3G iPhone itself, is the possibility that Australians – and people around the world – will finally see much stronger competition in voice and data pricing.

Although mobile phone call and data caps have proliferated, in Australia at least, prices are still much higher than they should be, especially when you compare costs against Skype or what you pay for your cable or ADSL connection.

While an unlocked 3G iPhone definitely won’t see voice and data plans dramatically fall in price immediately, if all carriers can sell 3G iPhones, or provide plans for them, competition will (hopefully) be fierce.

That would make the 3G iPhone a true driver of lower pricing than any other mobile phone before it, if that is what is set to actually happen.

Of course I always like cheaper pricing, not only for myself, but for everyone, so the unlocked 3G iPhone rumour is one that I dearly want to believe.

The world won’t know until June 9, when Steve Jobs alights the stage at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, to tell us not only one more thing, but many things indeed.

These will, or at least, are expected to include, the latest details on the iPhone 2.0 software and firmware updates, a showcase of new, authorised third-party software, details of enterprise email compatibility, and hopefully amongst other surprises, details of the new 3G iPhone.

In around 5 weeks we’ll all know, and if the 3G iPhone is true after all, then all the rumours about a 4G iPhone can begin!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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