The mobile network O2 in the UK today announced their price plans for the iPhone 4, but no actual price for the handset itself on the different price plans. And the information about prices was not the only limitation, as their price plans also revealed a tiered 3g data plan starting with only 500mb a month.
The UK networks are slow with announcing the actual prices of the iPhone 4 UK handset on the different price plans with only about two weeks to go before the iPhone 4 hits the market. Who would have thought it could be that difficult to calculate some currency exchanges! O2 yesterday also announced their iPhone 4 early upgrade offer, that included buying out your remaining contract at £20 per month left.
O2 is the first network to release their price plans, and also the first to make what is bound to be an unpopular decision by limiting the usage of data over their 3G network. They have introduced a tiered system where the data package varies from 500mb for the lowest tariffs and 1gb for the highest tariffs. If you need to use more than that per week you would have to buy extra data packages at £5 for 500mb or £10 for 1gb extra. So far O2 has been offering unlimited data with their price plans for the iPhone, but that will change from 1st October.
O2′s chief executive in the UK Ronan Dunne in this article explains how the smartphones have “outsmarted” the networks in how data hungry they have made us as consumers, explaining what a strain it has on the mobile networks infrastructure and the heavy investments needed to make sure they can handle it. Their rationale for introducing the tiered data traffic plans are that 97% of their customers use less than 500mb of data traffic a month, but behind the scenes of couse is the fact that they have shareholders that want increased return on investment, so this is an opportunity to make more money from each customer.
Although one can understand his arguments, the fact is that the way the smartphone market is going, they are getting more and more data hungry, and the iPhone 4 will be more data hungry than the current iPhone 3GS. Improved screen and more network driven apps equal more data traffic, and unfortunatelly you won’t be able to find a wi-fi whenever you need access. And if you are limiting proper data usage on the smartphones to just Wi-fi, does that not in reality make the concept of the smartphone a bit redundant?
I guess now there are many of us that will be waiting to see what the other networks will offer before we make our decision on who to get the iPhone 4 from. Let’s hope that they show a bit more imagination than what they did with the iPhone 3GS, where they more or less copied each other on prices and price plans.
We will return with full breakdown of iPhone 4 prices and price plans as soon as the networks publish the information.