Wednesday, 20 August 2008

iPhone Kills Baby Seals

iPhone Credit: Apple ComputerSingTel have stopped sending me e-mails about the iPhone launch; actually it turns out that they are initially targeting existing SingTel customers and I don't have any accounts with them. So only 2 days from the first sale, I have to read in the newspaper about the state of the promotion; only sales to pre-registered buyers for at least the first few days.

So I hot foot over to the SingTel website. Nada. You click around in an increasingly desperate search for any news or even mention of the device. In a sure sign of insanity, you even click on links you've already checked in the forlorn hope the result will be different. It turns out you need to go to the iPhone page, which finally shows the price plans.

SingTel have created special iPhone plans called iFlexi (yes, 2 'i's) plans, all 2 year contracts, assuming the 16GB model:

iFlexi Value: S$508 down, then S$56pm, 200 minutes, 500 SMS, 1GB data.
Total = $1852 (£704) over 2yrs

iFlexi Plus: S$208 down, then S$95pm, 500 minutes, 500 SMS, 2GB data.
Total = $2488 (£984) over 2yrs

iFlexi Premium: S$0 down, then S$205pm, 1500 minutes, 1500 SMS, 3GB data.
Total = $4920 (£1871) over 2yrs

Actually, it's more complicated than that, and there is a very detailed FAQ page just for the iPhone. But still, my immediate reaction is No Way.

First, anyone who spends £900 a year on a phone is mad. Secondly, the data caps are pathetically ungenerous; my M1 3G broadband account is S$22pm (£8.30) with no data cap; None; Unlimited. SingTel do the same deal but with a 50GB data cap. To put this in perspective, my domestic broadband usage is about 15GB per month (~14GB downstream and 1GB upstream). So a phone with a 1GB data cap is only 2 days of my normal broadband use. Clearly, this is no substitute for a home broadband connection (even if Apple would allow tethering, which they don't). So I'll have to keep my M1 mobile broadband account as well.

I have a couple of days to decide. I make few calls (probably less than 15mins a month) because I tend to use landlines for outgoing calls. I do use SMS, increasingly so. It's a convenient way to have a conversation in slow-time. Maybe they are in a meeting, or I am. I use it like e-mail for short, non-urgent discussions. But I still only send maybe 30 or 40 a month, tops.

So out of these choices, I'd take the first one (where I effectively buy the phone at cost) and then keep my monthly subscriptions from bankrupting me over the next 2 years.

Or I might wait it out and see what StarHub and M1 offer at the end of the year. I've already waited over a year for the 3G version. Another couple of months won't make any difference. It bemuses me that most buyers of the phone will not make such a calculated or patient purchase decision, which is one reason why Apple's market capitalisation has just past Google's