But wait – the phone is cheaper, but the data plan is more expensive… and there’s no convenient home activation “buy and sim unlock” option either.
“Would Sir like technical or legal shackles”?
Getting the 1st Gen. iPhone to work with a cheaper carrier (or just with a less comprehensive service plan) was primarily a technical challenge. This time around Apple is using a different tactic: Since locking down the phone’s software has proven to be nearly impossible, they’ll now require you to sign a contract before you can buy the phone instead.
That makes the carriers who have paid to be able to offer the iPhone happy and Apple can also claim to have reduced the price of the iPhone. But the cheapest AT&T voice & data plans combined now amount to $70 a month – a $10 hike over the plans for the previous generation.
The numbers game
So whilst Steve can claim they have eliminated some of the reasons people weren’t buying iPhones, it looks as though they’re now just obfuscating the true cost by hiding it in the AT&T’s myriad of voice and data plans.
More people may now think they can afford the iPhone as there’s less “sticker shock”, but for all intents and purposes the 1st Generation iPhone actually works out cheaper than the iPhone 3G.
iPhone (EDGE): Cost of ownership over 2 years: $1839
iPhone (3g): Cost of ownership over 2 years: $1879
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still considering buying one, but you do have to question whether Apple’s strategy of “bringing down the price” isn’t a little disingenuous. But looking at the pricing announced by O2 in the UK, it seems clear that there’s no fixed pricing for carriers set by Apple, so maybe this is more a case of AT&T playing games and not Apple.
EDIT: The new plans also don’t include free SMS, unlike the old plan, so you’ll probably end up paying a bit more than $70 a month if you text message a lot.