iPhone UK: The news so far

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.

For the ‘live blog’ check out CrunchGear here or TechCrunch UK here.

• 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…