The Second Coming of the Jesus Phone – 7/11/2008 – 3G iPhone

With the summer here, all your big and essential technology shows are abound. You have the Computex show out in Taiwan being the big one for computer hardware and E3 for the gaming folks. However, if you’re an Apple fanatic, WWDC is the most noteworthy to you. This year has been no slouch either. If you are a big phone fanatic like yours-truly, then obviously you know that this year’s WWDC has the second revision on Apple’s new “killer handheld”, the 3G iPhone.

iPhone Announcement

For some, this is the boat that a number of frustrated Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Nokia S60 users have been waiting for. The inclusion of 3G cellular baseband chips, A-GPS functionality, and a few more things are just a few of the things that many iPhone naysayers and bashers had picked on the first iteration iPhone. This announcement has not shaken down some of the other competitors just yet, as far as I know. I have not seen any price breaks from manufacturers like HTC et al from the WWDC announcement, but then again, it may not matter to them because they may have a pocket ace up their sleeve thay may not be known to the masses yet. (The Touch Diamond is rather prohibitive at $700+ at the moment, eh? – Zero)

iPhone Profile Shots

Notice this time that there’s a curvature to the back of the iPhone, much like a Palm Treo. The device comes in two colors, black and white. The colors signify the device’s storage capacity: black being an 8GB and white being 16GB. This also signifies a change in how the device is built. The aluminum back of the first iPhone is a thing of the past, the back of the 3G iPhone is plastic. Some fans on the web have speculated the curvature and plastic back are more to accomodate the fun new additions of circuitry inside the phone.

The new iPhone boasts that it will be using the new 2.0 software improving the user experience with features such as a customizable Home Screen, the App Store, a Map App that can use BOTH A-GPS and cell tower and/or wi-fi hotspots to triangulate data. For those enterprising corporate users who are jonesing for a tricked out phone but were sadly disappointed in the lack of support for Microsoft Exchange server for their jobs, the new rendition of the iPhone has added support for syncing up to Microsoft Exchange servers. Early or late first generation iPhone owners can still get in on the some of these features with the new iPhone 2.0 software update, so they are not quite left out in the cold.

If you want to behold more of the features about the iPhone, check out the Official Apple iPhone page (Link)! Need more visual porn? Check out the new iPhone gallery link here.

What about the pricing information? How bad will AT&T rape me for service?” are probably the next questions for curious 3G iPhone buyers seeing to get their hands one one and possibly escape their old provider. Let’s break into the leaked confidential bulletin posted up by Boy Genius Report and find out, shall we?

Before we pick through the plans… Let me make this one point from the confidential bulletin loud and clear for you curious readers: In America, there is no way to buy the 3G iPhone without committing to AT&T and GoPhone customers are not permitted to buy them for GoPhone use either. I repeat, you cannot just buy an iPhone without a plan even in the Apple Stores. In other countries, you may be able to purchase an unlocked iPhone due to anti-competition agreements, but not much information is known on that. The caveat for the American market is that due to this closer partnership between AT&T and Apple is that now AT&T can finally subsidize the iPhone to an entry price of $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. A very gutsy move as this puts the iPhone right at the same price points as AT&T’s corporate communicator market. HTC, Pantech, Palm, and RIM Blackberry devices be damned, AT&T basically created an internal smartphone war within their ranks! This has me curious as to how RIM, Palm,and HTC will play their cards in America, but that’s another discussion… 😉 for later this week.

Let’s go over the major points quoted from the Boy Genius Report post:

  • iPhone 3G will be activated at point of sale when the device is purchased in store.
  • Return period has been changed from 14 days to 30 days
  • $199 and $299 pricing is for new activations or qualified upgrades with a 2-year agreement
  • 2G iPhone data rate plans will remain available for 2G device suntil further notice
  • The new iPhone 3G data plan is $30/month and includes unlimited data and visual voicemail
  • There is not a no commitment price. This means you can’t just walk in and bang $500 on your credit card and walk out.
  • If you are an existing iPhone customer in good standing, you will be able to extend your contract for two years when the iPhone 3G launches and get the ill-na-na $199/$299 price point. Doesn’t matter when you bought an iPhone either.
  • AT&T and Apple stores “unbrick” the iPhone 3G at time of purchase, but for some reason if that doesn’t happen, you’ll be required to use iTunes at home.
  • Pre-paid and Pick Your Plan will not be allowed on iPhone 3G
  • Device purchase limit remains at (3) per customer in AT&T stores.
  • Launch day will mirror last year’s launch. This includes extended store hours, crowd controls, etc. Security will be provided to stores requesting armed police or guards.
  • AT&T is working with Apple to roll out GPS-enabled applications.

One of the first things I noticed as a definite step to progress is the in-store activation. I had read a few accounts online about some people having trouble with doing the activation at home due to the servers timing out and having to activate their phones a few days after purchasing an iPhone. This ensures that end users will have a working phone on purchase instead of angry users griping that their new toy is useless until the server can activate their device.

The purchase of an iPhone will require an iPhone data plan. The unlimited personal plan starts at $30 with any qualifying voice plan, however if you need to link with corporate e-mail accounts… you’ll need to front $45 per month for the enterprise data plan. My assumption is that a “qualifying” voice plan is a plan that is priced at least $39.99 and has 600 anytime minutes. As far as the press release from AT&T goes, there’s no mention if the unlimited iPhone data plans will include any text messaging… but that could change come July 11, 2008. As far as AT&T’s texting plans go, that could range from $14.99 – $19.99. So about $30 (estimated) for the lowest qualifying voice plan, $30 for the unlimited personal e-mail, web and visual voicemail package, and then $15 for the texting plan. A rough grand total of $75 before miscellaneous taxes and service charges would be due on the billing date; possibly around $80 – $82 after those charges. That’s decently competitive to an individual corporate user with a smartphone or Blackberry configured in the same manner. This combined with the subsidized price of the iPhone actually gives AT&T some leg room to fight. If they combine texting with different tiering of iPhone data packages, like the unlimited personal data plan being able to also get unlimited texting for a total of $80 before taxes, this may give providers like T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon more incentive to step up to the plate and really be creative.

Tune in tomorrow when I’ll play Devil’s Advocate and spin my thoughts from the anti-iPhone camp from the eyes of the T-Mobile/Sprint/Verizon/HTC/Palm/RIM side of things. This will actually be a 3-part series of things. The floor is now open to any pro-iPhone comments. If you have hate or bones to pick with the iPhone, save your energy for tomorrow.

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