It came, we saw, it went ... er ... POP. The Apple iPhone hit Britain yesterday with all the force of a gentle breeze from the Azores.
The Apple store in London was hardly beseiged with eager geeks and fashionistas (see pic below). As the "crowd" was let in at 6.02 (O2, gettit?), they were easily outnumbered by Apple store staff and bouncers, all in dark suits, and forming a snaking double-line honour guard for the hapless hopefuls to march through.
The first bunch ran through like Olympic athletes winning Gold. In fact they looked just like actors straight out of Chariots of Fire. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were.
Less that ravenous hordes outside London's Apple emporium
Make no mistake, this piece of kit will sell on price. Strip away a few poor little rich girls who "must have" it -- for ten minutes, and a handful of geeks, the big numbers will come from ordinary Johnnies who will balk at the price. If you buy the top of the range locked-in deal it will cost you $2,654, plus call charges, over 18 months. No way, Jose.
The experts are telling us to wait for the iPhone to be launched in France in a few weeks where French law bans lock-ins. Jonathan Morris of What Mobile
magazine said, "People who don't want to be tied to contracts can simply wait until the iPhone comes out in France. Under French law there has to be an unlocked version so people would be able to bring it back buy a Sim card and use it like any other phone."
Although the codes are different from the U.S. version, we're told it's already been hacked. Most geeks will get this done within a week. It's interesting that the first thing the BBC reporter did when he got his was to head off to the hacker's yard to boot out O2.
Steve Jobs is making criminals of us all.
It's here at last. After all the hype and the raves from across the Pond, Britain is to be let into the iPhone secret tomorrow, Friday, at 2 minutes past 6pm on the dot.
As forecast here in Syntagma, the contract has gone to former BT-owned -- now Telefonica-owned -- mobile giant, O2. They seem to have paid through the nose for the privilege.
The 8GB iPhone comes in at a whopping Â£269 ($565), way above the new lower price in the States. But there's more to pay : you have to take out an 18-month contract with O2 costing Â£630 ($1,323). That's a commitment of $1,888 just to get you into a locked-in deal.
On those terms, you would normally get the handset free. BT is offering a free BlackBerry at under Â£40 a month -- $84. The Vodaphone deal is Â£5 cheaper still.
So are we Brits going to buy this? A couple of weeks ago I wrote that we have a new Apple store opening here in Exeter, the capital of distant Devon. Here's how it looked yesterday :
I doubt they're going to get that open by tomorrow. And even so, my instinct is that we're not going to pay a Spanish telco that kind of money for gimmicky technology that just does what can be got elsewhere at a fraction of the price.
My brilliant Sony Ericsson does the MP3 bit, has the same camera, logs on to the internet and even takes phone calls. The only thing missing is the touch screen.
Am I going to pay nearly $2000 for a touch screen? Do I have to answer that?
It's also known to be slow accessing the internet (no 3G yet) and has to be sent back to change the battery. Yikes, talk about built-in obsolescence.
Message to Steve Jobs -- Apple CEO
Steve, it may be a great piece of kit, but it's a novelty product that will appeal to a small audience here with more money than sense.
Those of us who like a bit of bang for our buck will avoid this pretty bauble. You should not have asked for such a large slice of the action from O2, and they should not have premiumed up the device so far.
I'm afraid this is going to be one massive turkey here in the UK.
The Americanization of Devon, England continues apace. Here in sleepy Exeter we've long had a MacDonald's, more recently a Starbucks, and this month a sparky transatlantic style shopping mall. All we need to complete the process is an Apple store.
You'll never guess what I disovered this morning while walking through the new shop zone? ...
Well waddayaknow! I wonder if Steve Jobs will open it in person. Exeter's geek community can hardly wait.
The upshot of all this is that we're going to get iPhone availablility on our doorstep before Christmas. In my mind's eye I can see the long line of people snaking down Princesshay and right out of town as we queue for a limited supply of these must-have gizmos.
Maybe there'll be the iPod Touch too -- great for web browsing, we're told. And, of course, that other agonizing decision : to become a Macboy -- or not.
I've used Windows PCs for years because life is too short for chopping and changing operating systems. Yet, almost my first serious computer was the earliest Apple, the Lisa. I already had the IBM PC in my office where I worked as a marketing manager for British Telecom. Those were the days when you had to input strings of code to do anything with it, and the WP was Wordstar, which operated solely from the keyboard.
Then the Apple Lisa arrived complete with built-in dot-matrix printer. I don't think it was called a Macintosh in those days, but it had the very first use of "windows" as a feature, plus icons operated by a mouse.
Microsoft soon purloined these ideas, of course, launching its now dominant OS, Windows.
However, I got there first. I launched a series of publications for BT using a system of icons and a kind of window-like presentation. It was all in print, of course, but I did actually steal Apple's clothes before Bill Gates did.
I think a statue should be erected somewhere, don't you? Maybe outside the new Apple store.
England strikes back.