The launch of the iPhone 3G S garnered a rather apathetic opinion from me when it launched last night while you guys have seemingly been split down the middle. There is however a new announcement in relation to the handset which we can all agree upon...
O2 has released its pricing for the new Apple phone and it's ludicrous, barmy, batty, recession-timed-madness that makes me so cross I'm going to simply copy and paste in this table to try and cut down on more adjectives.
In short, yes these run in stark contrast to O2's generous iPhone 3G tariffs which appeared one year ago almost to the day. In fact, whereas a flagship 16GB iPhone 3G in 2008 would cost you just £59 on a £45pm 18 month contract now the replacement 32GB flashship iPhone 3G S clocks in at a jaw dropping £175.19 on the same tariff.
Perhaps worst of all are the deals for the 'affordable' 8GB iPhone 3G which supposedly received a 50 per cent price cut yesterday to attract new users into the smartphone sector. Well SUPRISE! O2 hasn't changed the tariff at all and will still charge roughtly £99 (£96.89) for the handset on both £29.38pm and £34.26pm 18 month deals - the exact same rate it launched at 12 months ago. Thanks O2.
Think that's the end of it? Oh no. O2 will charge £2.94 for downloading each megabyte of data inside the EU and £6 per megabyte everywhere else. That new MMS functionality will come at the cost of no less than four SMS messages and tethering - oh my word tethering - costs an extra £14.60pm for a 3GB allowance or £29.36pm for a 10GB allowance. This is the exact same price O2 charges for its mobile broadband packages and at least there you a) get a free dongle and b) won't kill your iPhone battery in the process.
Pay & Go pricing. Now let's put this in context: currently the 8GB iPhone 3G sells for £342.54 and the 16GB version costs £391.47 not an inconsiderable amount. Now the apparently 50 per cent cheaper 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for - yep - £342.50 with the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 3G S demanding a quite simply potty £440.40 and £538.30 respectively.
Feeling depressed? O2 has one final killer. Speaking from its official Twitter page the network has confirmed it will be abandoning the early upgrade options it offered to customers for the original iPhone and iPhone 3G launches. Now "Every O2 customer needs to pay to end their contract if they want to upgrade early." How much will this be? "The early upgrade cost is likely to be monthly cost x (multiplied by) months left on your contract."
So let's get this straight with an example. An early adopter of the 16GB iPhone 3G who bought it at launch in June will need to pay up the six remaining months of their contract - say the midrange £34.26pm tariff - then up to £184.98 for a replacement 16GB iPhone 3G S before signing up to another £34.26pm 18 month deal. In total that's a £395.54 upgrade cost combined with a new contract.
I've said a great many positive things about O2 over the last 18 months - all of them richly deserved - but it has not so much dropped the ball here as collected the ball, its chain, a few pro wrestlers and body slammed them onto the toes of existing and potential customers slap bang in the middle of the worst recession in nearly a century.
(No, that table insertion didn't really stop the adjectives - did it?)