Earlier in the year, Orange’s iPhone exclusivity in France was forced to an end by a court decision from the Competition Council following a complaint filed by Bouygues Telecom. This decision and its re-affirmation by the higher courts has opened the floodgates for the iPhone to conquer France with the handset making its appearance on Bouygues Telecom and SFR in addition to Orange. Competition leads to increased sales, increased sales leads to price wars and significant price slashing has hit the iPhone in France. Orange has cut its price on the 16GB iPhone 3GS to a lowly €59 ($48USD) from its original sticker of €149 ($213USD), the iPhone 3G 8GB has fallen to a mere €19 ($27USD), while the iPhone 3GS 32GB retails for€169 ($242USD). Strings are attached as customers must sign up for an Origami Star contract, starting a €40.90 ($48USD) per month. Priced slightly higher is SFR which offers the iPhone 3G 8GB for €29 ($42USD), the iPhone 3GS 16GB for €99 ($ 141USD) and the 3GS 32GB for €199 ($284USD). Not wanting to feel left behind, expect other telecoms in France and perhaps even the surrounding markets to follow suit.
Here’s a bit of an odd one. The iPhone has been on sale in the UK since November 2007 when O2 began exclusively offering the original iPhone. But it was only today the record for single day sales for a sole handset was shattered as Orange began selling the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The specific number sold has yet to come out as the day is not yet done, but as of 4pm local time, nationwide sales surpassed 30,000 units. Why is this? Orange thinks it is all to do with its network which it says offers far greater coverage and reach than its competitors and is the focus of a new multi-million pound ad campaign entitled “You’re Covered,” as well as its Orange Wednesdays app which offers perks like 2-for-1 movie coupons. Of course we’re still waiting for Vodafone to start selling the iPhone as it announced it would in September, so we’re quite interested to see how long this record last. One more thing for UK iPhone users. As of today, O2 will legitimately unlock your phone provided that you adhere to the following conditions: Pay Monthly users can unlock at any time but must continue to pay until O2 for services until their term is up while Pay Go subs must have had their iPhone for 12 months and pay a £15 fee. If anyone is interested in this, just visit http://shop.o2.co.uk/update/unlockmyiphone.html to get this process started. More →
With the BlackBerry Storm2 getting nice and official over night, we here at BGR thought that it would be nice for us to take a moment and focus on just what its launch means for our loyal readers that aren’t living in The New World. Earlier this week, UK-based The Guardian proclaimed that the Storm2 would be announced by both RIM and Vodafone this week. Clearly this was the case as we now know it will be arriving on or around the 26th of October, but its report missed out on one huge revelation — Vodafone’s exclusivity on the device will only last “a few weeks”. This of course paves the way for other carriers such as O2, Orange and T-Mobile to get in on the Storm action. While all of the aforementioned Storm2 candidate carriers have remained mom mum on the matter, The Guardian is hedging its bets on Orange carrying the Storm2 in time for Christmas. What does this all mean for the UK? Well, when one considers that every major carrier is going to be offering the iPhone 3GS and has the option of picking up the Storm2, it looks as if a major price war is about to erupt in time for the holidays.
Orange UK customers eager to get their hands on Motorola’s first Android offering can saunter over to the Orange Multimedia Store in Milton Keynes today and walk out with more MOTOBLUR than they can stand. Folks not outside the Milton Keynes will have to wait until tomorrow for the DEXT to land at all Orange retail stores or October 8th at all Phones 4U stores. The DEXT will be free for customers with a 24 month tariff of £34.26 per month which includes 900 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, Orange Maps and inclusive anytime Internet browsing. Any UK readers out there with a DEXT already in hand? Hit us up in the comments with your first impressions.
It looks like some of the oft talked about and much maligned iPhone exclusivity deals are finally starting to fizzle out — Orange UK has announced that it will be offering both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS to its customers “later this year.” As it currently stands, O2 has the sole rights to sell the iPhone in the UK. As many of you might recall however, T-Mobile was recently caught selling unlocked iPhones to its highest paying and most disgruntled customers, so perhaps it too will get in on the action in the near future. But back to Orange. The carrier has not yet released much in the way of specifics, having simply stated that “pricing, tariffs and availability dates will be released in due course.” Ordinarily we’d start to think what sort of implications this has for the American marketplace, but alas only one carrier has the appropriate bands and network technology to run the iPhone. *sigh*
Windows Mobile fans take note — 30 new handsets powered by your mobile OS of choice will supposedly be debuting before you again sing a drunken version of Auld Lang Syne. Benjamin Tan, senior director of the GCR Mobile Team Unit at Microsoft China, let loose the rumor that an avalanche of new Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets from HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Acer, Toshiba, HP and more will be released in the waning months of 2009. Carriers who have jumped on board this Window Mobile bonanza include AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, NTT DoCoMO, Softbank Mobile, SKT, Telstra and Telus. Bottom line: no matter where you are located or what you prefer in a smartphone, there will apparently be a Windows Phone to suit your needs in 2009.
In a move that doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, Orange UK has officially announced that it will be carrying the Motorola DEXT, the European version of the CLIQ, as its second Android smartphone. The DEXT will be offered in early October for as little as £0 to those who opt for a 2-year contract with a monthly tariff of £34.26. It’s not exactly cheap, all things considered, but it’s also not as if you can find many plans Stateside that offer 900 minutes, unlimited texts, data and use of Orange Maps for around $56.50 per month.
Now that the excitement of the Motorola Android event has died down and the company’s first Android offering has been unveiled, we can take our focus off of what will be released and concentrate on when it will be released. The first rumor out the door comes from merry old England where Orange UK is said to be launching the Motorola DEXT in early October. Pre-orders are expected to begin September 22nd, though no specific release date has been specified. No pricing information is available yet either, but you know Europe — with the proper tariff nearly any phone can be had for free.
Our pals across the pond are going to be facing some changes in the coming months as Deutsch Telekom and France Telecom are planning a massive merger in the UK. The companies are reportedly preparing to combine T-Mobile UK and Orange to form what will become the largest telco on the island, assuming the joint venture is approved by antitrust regulators. The deal is expected to be inked toward the end of October, giving the parties involved plenty of time to iron out details in the interim. The bright side for consumers, we suppose, is expanded network coverage — the downside of course being the fact that the two carriers will no longer be competing for business. So, what do our UK friends think?
Thanks, Roger A!
We love useless gadgets as much as the next person, but this whole Dick Tracy-like obsession with the LG GD910 touchscreen watch phone is completely lost on us. Sure it can compose text messages and place video calls, but is it really worth running that the risk that your unkempt nose hair might offend a key business client? If so and you happen to live in the UK, then pack a blanket and a snack and get ready to camp outside the Orange’s Bond Station Stop on the night of the 26th/27th — as soon as the store opens in the morning, the GD910 can be all yours for £500 ($828 USD). Orange won’t have many units on hand so in the event you can’t get the time off work/have a prior commitment, more will be made available online in mid-September. As for that 899€ the French are being asked to pay for the GD910, well, that’s what you get for being French. Heyo!
The bad news: it’s €899. Subsidized. On contract. Seriously. Orange has finally made LG’s highly anticipated GD910 Watch Phone official, confirming it will be the phone’s exclusive carrier in Europe. The sleek 3G touchscreen handset wristset is available immediately in France and the aforementioned price is tied to “an Origami star, first, jet or Origami plus package (12 or 24-month contract).” Unsurprisingly, no contract-free pricing is listed. We’re really interested to see where this thing goes to be honest. Here’s our conundrum: If you have €899 (about $1,300) to spend on a phone, you should already be rocking a pretty solid watch, no? Not necessarily anything too crazy per se, but a solid timepiece that you probably spent at least a few grand on. In fact, odds are good you have several nice watches to choose from each morning. Now you’re going to replace them with a Watch Phone? One that you have to wear each and every day — because it’s your phone — unless you swap the SIM constantly? Sorry guys, we’re just not seeing it. If you are seeing it however, and you think $1,300 on contract is a fair price, it’s time to pack up your things and move across the pond as we can’t imagine that this little guy is going to make it to the US any time soon — FCC approval or not.
More interesting news from the UK today as it looks like LG’s would-be-highly-anticipated-if-not-for-the-insanely-high-rumored-price-tag GD910 watch phone is set to become a reality next month. Orange has reportedly confirmed that LG’s Dick Tracy-esque wrist gear will hit store shelves some time in August as an exclusive, though Orange exclusivity will only be for “a limited time”. The carrier hasn’t yet pinned a price on the touchscreen GD910 watch phone and we don’t blame them considering it’s rumored to be in the £1,000 range (about $1,612 at today’s exchange rate) on a pay-as-you-go plan or SIM-only. And you thought the Nokia N97 was expensive. For the sake of our British friends’ wallets, let’s hope the rumored price is way high and this little HSDPA-ready wristwatch drops with a slightly less ridiculous price tag. As for availability on this side of the Atlantic — don’t hold your breath.
LG has announced two new handsets, the GW520 and GT505, that do their best to target the social networking, business-oriented crowd. Both handsets feature push notification of updates from various social networking sites, push email from personal accounts and Microsoft Exchange support. The GW520 is a QWERTY side slider with a 2.8-inch touchscreen, 7.2Mbps HSDPA and a 3 megapixel camera. The GT505 is a candybar with a 3-inch touchscreen, 3.6Mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi and a 5 megapixel camera. The GT505 also comes with a 30 day trial of WisePilot for LG which offers turn by turn navigation. Both handsets are expected to be available in June 2009 with the GT505 launching on Orange while the GW520 to debut with various, yet-to-be-named carriers.