Tuesday, 24 June 2008 03:05

Japan iPhone 3G prices close to US as promised by Jobs

Some were sceptical when Steve Jobs said the iPhone 3G would be sold around the world for $US199, but if you allow a little poetic licence it seems to be coming true. At least, that happens to be the case in Japan.

Reports from Japan say that the iPhone 3G will sell in that country for ¥23,040 ($US214/$A224) for the version with 8G of memory, and ¥34,560 ($US320/$A337) for 16G.

This is remarkably close to the US prices ($US199 and $US299), and is a sign that Apple will be delivering on the claim made by CEO Steve Jobs that the new phone will be available worldwide at the same price.

The announcement comes from Softbank, which is the third-biggest mobile phone company in Japan. Neither NTT DoCoMo or KDDI have announced a deal with Apple that would let them sell iPhones, though the former is believed to still be negotiating with Apple.

A similar situation applies in Australia, where Optus and Vodafone have announced they will be offering the iPhone to customers, but market leader Telstra has not. Telstra has been tipped to announce a deal with Apple in the coming weeks.

The catch, of course, is that the US and Japanese prices apply to iPhone 3Gs purchased on contract. In the US, basic monthly charge for new customers is $US59.95  most Japanese customers are expected to take a ¥7280 ($US67/$A71) per month contract that provides unlimited data and free calling to other Softbank customers.

There are still suggestions that the iPhone 3G will be available in an officially unlocked form, at least in some markets. In France, the original model sold for €749 ($US1162/$A1221) when unlocked as required by French law.

What about the grey market? Please read on, and you'll also get the latest about iPhone distribution in Europe..

Unofficially unlocked first-generation iPhones are widely available, and Australian retailer Linelink is already quoting a price of $A775 for a grey-market unlocked iPhone 3G.

In other iPhone news, reports from Germany claim the iPhone will be available from retailer Gravis as well as T-Mobile's own stores. iPhones sold by Gravis - and potentially other German retail outlets - would include T-Mobile service contracts.

Apple has been selling iPhones in the UK at Carphone Warehouse stores as well as though carrier O2's outlets.

Other reports from Europe suggest that the iPhone will be available from Apple's premium resellers in addition to stores operated by the company's carrier partners. While details are not yet clear, it seems that this will apply in France, Italy and Switzerland, and possibly other countries.

Furthermore, the iPhone 3G may not go on sale at European Apple resellers for a month or two after it becomes available from carrier partners on July 11. Indications are that iPhone 3Gs sold by Apple resellers will be locked and tied to contracts.

These reports will serve to heighten speculation that the iPhone 3G will be available from mobile phone outlets in Australia that are not tied to specific carriers (eg Allphones) and from Apple resellers. It also seems increasingly likely that a basic iPhone 3G could sell for perhaps $A249 on contract.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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