When it comes to mobile phone costs and tariffs we know the US and UK markets rarely have much in common, but could AT&T have set a precedent here...?
According to The Business Insider, the US telco has relented to a consumer backlash first started on Twitter to make iPhone 3G S upgrades more affordable to existing iPhone 3G owners. Consequently customers will now be able to upgrade from their iPhone 3G to a 3G S for the same $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB) cost given to new customers without existing contracts.
The catch - there's always a catch - is AT&T is only giving this offer to bigger spenders and refers its customers to "Check Upgrade Options" in its site portal to see how they qualify on an individual basis. Furthermore, the offer will only be available until September for those who do qualify - which seems something of a mess.
So how could this affect the UK? As it stands O2 is already reaping a whirlwind of FAIL for demanding up to £184.98 ($302) for a 16GB iPhone 3G S and £274.23 ($449) for the 32GB edition for new customers. Existing customers need to pay this as well as buying out the remainder of their current contracts plus signing up to a new 18/24 month plan.
The few benefits available now include an O2 'Priority List' which can cut the time you have to wait before you are eligible to upgrade while Carphone Warehouse is giving £100, £170 and £180 cashback for iPhone, iPhone 3G 8GB and iPhone 3G 16GB handsets respectively. Still, with such exorbitant pricing even then it's not the greatest incentive. That said, the same Twitter petition which got AT&T to bend is currently being directed towards O2 (5538 signatures at the time of writing) so could there be hope?
In short: who knows? With the official launch tomorrow O2 may elect to remain quiet for now since stock is likely to be limited anyway. We can tell you one thing though: the network has already scored one major own goal - it would be wise to avoid another...