Will The Lack Of EDGE In The U.K. Kill The iPhone? - InformationWeek

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9/18/2007
04:32 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Will The Lack Of EDGE In The U.K. Kill The iPhone?

Today during his mini-Jobsnote at the iPhone press conference in London, Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised a 3G iPhone next year. But what about the lack of EDGE in the U.K. for the iPhone that was announced today?

Today during his mini-Jobsnote at the iPhone press conference in London, Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised a 3G iPhone next year. But what about the lack of EDGE in the U.K. for the iPhone that was announced today?The iPhone that Apple is preparing to launch in the U.K. is identical to the U.S. one. The only difference is that the carrier in the U.K., 02, will bundle in Wi-Fi access from The Cloud. But this bundling is being done out of necessity. 02's EDGE network covers less than 30% of the country.

While the iPhone received stellar reviews in the U.S., AT&T's EDGE network received less than great reviews. Sure, AT&T may have beefed up its EDGE network since the launch of the iPhone, but the network is still slow. And it includes all of the U.S. In the U.K., the iPhone will default to either Wi-Fi -- when it's available -- or GPRS in most parts of the country. And just so you know, GPRS makes mobile data usage on EDGE look like a T1 by comparison. Just ask my colleague, Eric Zeman, what using the iPhone on GPRS was like.

While the iPhone is great on Wi-Fi networks, there just aren't enough hotspots in the U.K. or the rest of Europe to make the device truly mobile, not without significantly more EDGE coverage. The iPhone in the U.K. will be portable at best, with huge zones devoid of any wireless coverage. Would you pay $400 or more for an iPhone plus monthy mobile phone charges if you knew the device simply wouldn't be mobile in the vast majority of your country?

In effect, Apple is launching a glorified version of the iPod Touch in the U.K. while expecting consumers to pay more for the iPhone and pay a carrier service fee on top of that. Does this sound cool to you?

Back in the summer I questioned whether the lack of 3G on the iPhone would kill the device in Europe. I think this question is still valid and soon we'll get an answer. What do you think? Will the lack of EDGE in the U.K. kill the iPhone in that market? Or will British consumers gladly pay for the iPhone just like Americans?

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