Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Apples and Oranges

As the US rollout of the iPhone approaches, Apple still has not announced its overseas strategy — whether the planned December intro in Europe, or any release elsewhere in the world.

Apple is notoriously secretive, but the (plausible) rumors are that Apple will choose a single pan-European carrier and thus (as in the US) a phone locked to one carrier. Bloggers on April 21 and May 6 have claimed Vodafone is a “lock” (all pun intended).

I find more plausible the recent posts that suggest that Apple is debating between Vodafone and Orange. This is consistent with Apple’s US strategy, where it got the two leading carriers to bid against each other. Maybe Vodafone has the broadest reach, but they are also the global carrier most trying to commoditize handsets. No single Vodafone action would undercut its strategy more than carrying the Apple-branded iPhone with some subset of Apple restrictions, while Apple is not going to let any carrier dictate terms without getting a competing proposal.

Most plausible is the speculation that the iEuroPhone (EuroIPhone?) will support 3G. Still, the best (if least substantive) commentary was last week on Wired:

Has anyone else noticed the amount of insane speculation over this product? All over the web we hear every day that people won't buy it because of battery life issues, a poor touch screen experience or any other manner of nonsense.

You can't buy one. It doesn't exist yet. Why on Earth are people debating non existent problems with a non existent device?

Let's just wait and see, shall we? It's only six weeks more.
On a related note, UBS is predicting 850,000 iPhones will be sold in the first 4 months, 2.1 million total in calendar 2007, and (if you extrapolate) more than 8 million iPhones in 2008. Given there were only about 145 million handsets sold last year in the US, those numbers confirm to me that Apple expects significant overseas sales in 2008. But then, any predictions of iPhone sales prior to its launch are merely speculation.

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