So here are the basics about the iPhone launch in the UK, as announced by Steve Jobs in London. It was a pretty utilitarian affair with a predictable demo by Jobs of the iPhone’s features, an announcement about the carrier, a chat from the O2 CEO Matthew Key (pictured next to Jobs), and some Q&A. Almost everything was predicted beforehand, except the rather clever idea behind O2’s service which will see it partner with European-wide WiFi network The Cloud to bundle in access for iPhone customers and the fact that the iPhone will switch seamlessly onto those Wifi nodes.
• Apple’s iPhone will go on sale to UK customers on November 9.
• The handset, which will be available exclusively to O2 customers, will cost £269 – more than the $399 (£200) that it costs in the US. Users will have to sign an 18-month contract priced at either £35, £45, or £55 depending on the call package, but this covers “unlimited” per month usage across O2’s network and 7,500 WiFi hotspots managed by The Cloud.
• 02 has partnered with independent retailer Carphone Warehouse to sell the phone, giving Apple 1300 points of distribution in total, covering 90% of the UK population.
• Every store will have an iPhone expert in store. And there will be a dedicated care centre for iPhone customers.
• O2 has fired up its netwrok with the slower Edge technology (as against Europe’s love affair with HSDPA) to accomodate the iPhone.
• There is no 3G iPhone as yet because, as Jobs said at the launch, the “The trade off with 3G [in battery life] is too bad right now.”
• In the UK the iPhone will look for the fastest network and seamlessley switch to it. (That sounds different to how it operates in the US?).
• No Starbucks iTunes music Store in the UK as yet.
• O2 has 5.5 million customers and their in-house research says 80% of their high value customers want an iPhone and 40% of other network’s customers said they would switch carrier to get the iPhone.
• No clues as to who gets the iPhone in France or Germany yet, but it’s almost certainly Orange and T-Mobile respectively.
There seems to be a few problems however, with how the launch with go. The first is the iPod Touch was announced only recently. So to get the iPhone-like features UK Apple fans will probably just get a touch rather than dump the phone and contract they are use to. Plus UK users are used to texting on a proper keypad, not a touch-screen. T9 rules in Europe and the iPhone will take some getting used to for kids who can T9 faster than they can speak (yes, they do exist ). We’ll see…