iPhone Not for me?

DUBAI - The Etisalat launched iPhone has created a buzz in terms of enquiries, but on its second day seems to have fallen flat in terms of purchases, with the public.

By Afshan Ahmed / Reuters

Published: Wed 25 Feb 2009, 1:54 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:33 AM

Big Buzz Fails to Ring a Bell

The question being mainly asked is, why would you buy a phone that has been locked to a provider, has a limited data package on a high charge and is exuberantly priced to its unlocked counterpart?

Farhad T., who works for Emirates headed for the Etisalat booth at the Mall of the Emirates, in search of an iPhone with unlimited Internet access.

“Traveling requires that I access the Internet at hotels. I want a phone that would eliminate that. However, looking at these rentals, I will be paying much more.” He left with a Blackberry brochure in hand.

Many businessmen who were seen examining the iPhone subscription packages, left with renewed loyalty towards their Blackberry package. “In comparison, the Blackberry provides a more feasible roaming and browsing package. The iPhone is not convenient for my business,” said Abdullah Mohammed.

Mahmoud N. of Dubai said the iPhone would entice the youth looking for entertainment options.

Magnus Nystedt, who had earlier told Khaleej Times he would buy the phone, was attracted to the Visual Voice Mail facility that Etisalat has announced.

“That is one option not available on my current iPhone. But Etisalat too isn’t providing it.”

After a two hour wait for the first official iPhone on Sunday, Magnus said he will now be canceling his subscription and resorting to his old phone, entitling him to cancellation charges.

Many outlets continue to sell the ‘factory unlocked’ version of the phone.

“We sell around six sets everyday at a price of Dh4,000,” said a retailer of Tarsam at the Mall of the Emirates. “It provides all the features that the recently launched iPhone boasts,” added a retailer at Jacky’s express.


Rivals Try Hard to Imitate Apple

Eric Auchard

Copying a few pages from the playbook of Apple Inc’s iPhone strategy, which brings many of the powers of the Internet to mobile phones, is no way to beat the computer interloper at its game.

But that’s exactly what many of the world’s biggest handsets makers are trying to do with new copycat phones and services that ape key features of the iPhone.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s biggest annual trade show for the wireless industry, Apple is everywhere and nowhere. The company avoids such events, preferring to unveil products at its own venues.

The giants of the phone industry — Nokia, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc, Sony Ericsson and HTC Corp — are humbling themselves to copy a company whose phones account for only 1 per cent of handsets.

A year ago, phone makers with quick-acting design teams came out with the first touchscreen iPhone look-alikes. This year, they are going further by seeking to duplicate the iPhone’s user interface software.

Privately, an executive with a major European telecommunications operator complains: “Everybody is trying to catch the iPhone. They are pushing things out to market that just aren’t ready for prime-time.”

The proliferation of “me-too” products is a trap because products must take shortcuts or sacrifice profit margins to undercut Apple on price. That digs equipment makers into a deeper hole because smartphones have been faster growing and more profitable than other handsets.

And Apple isn’t sitting still. Some Wall Street analysts say the Silicon Valley-based company is gearing up to offer a slimmed down $99 iPhone by June.

A lower-price iPhone would likely run on slower networks, contain less memory and have lower touchscreen and camera resolution, one RBC Capital analyst predicts.

The phone industry is envious of Apple’s AppStore, which lets iPhone users download thousands of small software programs to personalize the way they play games, listen to music or find directions.

Letting users decide what software they add to phones marks an upending of long-standing industry practices of tightly controlling device features, based on what handset makers and their key customers, the operators, thought best.

The roll-call of companies announcing their own software stores this week include Nokia, Microsoft, LG and France Telecom SA’s Orange mobile network. Samsung and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd had previously announced stores of their own.


Mobile Advertising Edges Closer to Breakthrough

Kate Holton

BARCELONA - After years of hype and hot air, advertising on mobile phones finally appears to be making some headway, boosted by the popularity of smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and the content found on them.

Executives gathered at the mobile industry’s annual event in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress, said the biggest boost to advertising was the introduction of smartphones, led by the iPhone, which had made surfing the Web an everyday occurrence.

Apple is also responsible for the popularity of another growth driver, the AppStore, which lets iPhone users download thousands of small software programs to personalise the way they play games, listen to music or find directions. Advertisers have been able to place ads within those programs, or widgets.

But any operators hoping for a boost should likely not hold their breath, as analysts and executives believe the majority of advertising dollars will go to the publishers such as Google who already dominate the Web.

“While we all believe in mobile advertising, we have to recogniae that it hasn’t taken off as quickly as expected,” said Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao, chief executive of the world’s largest mobile group by revenue.

The mobile industry has talked up advertising for many years, touting the personal and ubiquitous nature of the phone and its ability to offer ads based on location.

Anyone interested in a new car, for example, can in one step click through to ring the dealership.

Its supporters also point to the forecast that in a couple of years, mobile is expected to become the most common way to get onto the Internet, overtaking the computer.

But would-be promoters of mobile advertising have found that getting around the problem of cluttering up the phone’s small screen with display ads has been harder than expected.

And, a lack of common standards across the industry in how operators, handset makers and advertising agencies approach the service, and the little research showing its effectiveness, mean the industry is still some way from taking off.

There is no real consensus yet on the value of global advertising spent on mobile although Mike Wehrs, head of the trade group Mobile Marketing Association, said he believed it was at the million range and not yet billions.

Serious interest, however, is growing fast. Christian Louca, the UK country manager of mobile advertising agency YOC, told Reuters the mobile advertising industry had now moved beyond the trial phase and was starting to see dedicated budgets for mobile.

And AdMob, one of the largest advertising marketplaces which signs up advertisers and publishers, said it had seen 6.8 billion network requests in January alone, driven by publishers who want to make money while giving away content for nothing.

“People are waking up to the mobile Internet and getting more used to good advertising,” said Thomas Schulz, managing director of AdMob, which partners with more than 6,000 mobile websites, 700 applications and 60 brand advertisers. By 2011 it is anticipated that more people will use or access the Internet on mobile devices than on the PC, that’s on a global basis, and that’s driven by emerging markets.”

Social Network MySpace currently offers advertisers hyper-targeting where they put people anonymously into interest groups and Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe says they can now do this for mobile if consumers opt in.

“A lot of our big brands are beginning to target cross-platform,” he told Reuters in Barcelona. But not everyone is convinced.

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