Is the iPhone about to come to 3UK?

February 24th, 2010 Tags: , , , , , , ,

iPhone 3GS

When I met up with 3UK last month, they were explaining that generally the main reason they take longer to get phones is that as a company they will purchase a much smaller quantity of any particular phone than the larger networks, and hence their requests for stock and customisations will always take second place.  They also commented that in terms of phones like the iPhone, they felt the costs were too high, both to them and to the consumer.  Well, I think this is about to change…

The day before I met 3UK I heard rumours that their Customer Services staff had been saying they would be carrying the iPhone within 3 months, and both that and a direct question on whether 3UK would be stocking the iPhone were, looking back, not actually answered on the night.

This week I’ve heard more Customer Services staff saying the iPhone will come next month (although personally I suspect it’ll be announced in the next month or so, as opposed to being on sale), and 3UK have put out a statement today saying that they don’t have a commercial relationship with Apple, but that they hope to resolve that in 2010.  That post also states that the Nokia E71 was their best selling phone of 2009, but what it doesn’t say is that the HTC Hero, costing £35 per month, is their current best selling phone.  This shows that buyers are willing to spend £35 per month on a 3UK contract, something that may not have been so apparent a year ago when PAYG and £15-£20 per month contracts were much more common.

Combine all these thoughts with statements by 3UK last month that they felt they should advertise their “Coming Soon” phones better and I think the iPhone is going to be announced fairly soon; in my opinion it’s rare for networks to talk about phones before they are pretty much ready.  With the experiences of the HTC Hero, 3UK know their customers will happily pay more for high spec smartphones, and with the comments from their own Customer Services staff I think this all shows it’s coming to the network.

Now, I might be wrong of course, and I suspect it’s possible they’ll only pick up the iPhone 3G, although I suspect they’ll be able to sell the iPhone 3GS too.  I also suspect that if / when a new iPhone 4th Generation model is announced in June / July, it won’t be seen on 3UK for a little longer than the other networks (due to the commercial points in the first paragraph), but we may well see some form of iPhone on sale on 3UK before too long.

Interestingly, unlike some Nokia phones, it appears that people aren’t having problems getting their 3UK SIMs to work in unlocked iPhones, so that bodes well.  Of course, I would expect 3UK to ship it with their own Skype on 3 and Email on 3 solution, which may take a little while to get ready and released into the App Store.  In fact, I wonder if this is the only thing stopping the announcement happening today, hence why 3UK are happy to start talking about the device…


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3 Responses to “Is the iPhone about to come to 3UK?”

  1. Adonis Says:

    It would be interesting to see if 3 are allowed to customise the iPhone with their pre-installed apps. Somehow I think Apple wouldn’t allow it nor favour it.

  2. UK Gadgeteer Says:

    I agree it’s unlikely they will be able to customise it with them pre-installed, but providing free versions in the App Store that only work with 3UK may be a possibility, although how 3UK ensure users are made aware of these being available I’m not sure what options would be open to them.

  3. mrtotes Says:

    This would be good news. It was a real shame that Orange and Vodafone failed to compete with O2 in any meaningful way on the iPhone with effectively the same contract and handset costs with lower data ceilings. Tesco has started the competition off by lowering iPhone handset costs but I’m sure a 3UK “4th Gen” iPhone in June/July would be a very popular.

    On the subject of apps O2’s long-release account app plain won’t work on my iPhone and from the app store reviews I’m not alone. – Very odd they can’t get it right/fix it.

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