3G iPhone in Europe? Nix, Nicht, Nein, Non!
Only Apple would launch a 2.5G device in a country where 20% of mobile-phone users own 3G-enabled handsets and expect them to downgrade their wireless experience and pay a premium for doing so.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed yesterday that the company’s iPhone will go on sale in Britain Nov. 9 and be carried exclusively by Telefonica SA’s O2 division (which was apparently willing to give up a kidney as well as its first born to win the deal).
As in the states, U.K. iPhones will run on a 2.5G EDGE network. An odd choice, given the prevalence of 3G-enabled phones in the country and O2′s British EDGE penetration, which apparently hovers around a paltry 30%.
Speaking at London’s Regent Street Apple Store, Jobs defended Apple’s decision to support EDGE and not 3G, saying to do otherwise would compromise the iPhone’s battery life. “The 3G chipsets are real power hogs,” said Jobs. “Most phones now have battery lives of two to three hours, and that’s due to these very power-hungry 3G chipsets. Our phone has 8 hours of talk-time life. That’s really important when you start to use the Internet and want to use the phone to listen to music. We’ve got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the five-plus hour range. Hopefully we’ll see that late next year. Rather than cut the battery life, we’ve included Wi-Fi and sandwiched 3G between EDGE and a more efficient Wi-Fi.”
And that appears to be Apple’s party line as it continues its iPhone march across Europe. This morning, Apple announced T-Mobile–the only network operator in Germany to offer EDGE throughout its entire GSM network–as the exclusive German carrier of the iPhone. Presumably it will announce a similar deal with France Télécom SA’s Orange in the days ahead.
Correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of the first paragraph of this post incorrectly referred to a “2.5-gigabyte” device instead of 2.5G device (as in “generation”) as the author intended.