by Christian Scholz on November 21, 2007
New technologies and Germany are things which do not really seem to fit each other. As an example take the iPhone.
We have now (as in the US) one exclusive distributor, which is T-Mobile. They sold the iPhone with contract for EUR 399,- (US$ 590,-) for the 8GB version. The tariff though is kinda problematic as for the smallest package Complete M for EUR 49,- (US$ 72,-) you only get 100 minutes inclusive and 40 SMS. Additionally if you transmit more than 200MB per month your bandwidth for the rest of the month will be reduced to 64kbit/s (dl) and 16kBit/s (upload). So compared to the US not very cool (for US$60,- you get 450 free minutes and 200 SMS and now bandwidth throtteling).
But then Vodafone wanted to get it cleared by a court if this exclusive contract is legal. The result is that a german court granted them a preliminary injunction yesterday preventing T-Mobile from locking the SIM of the iPhone to T-Mobile. Vodafone was concerned that other device manufacturers would follow this example which would change the cellphone market quite a bit.
In order to keep selling iPhone T-Mobile now decided (according to this article, first rumoured in the german scene here) to sell the iPhone also without SIM-lock. The only issue once again is the price: EUR 999,- (US$ 1500,-). Now as the iPhone is not a subsidised phone this seems pretty high. But it’s for a reason of course. That way you will more likely buy one with a contract. Or you might be none at all (what I do for now). Or people might go over to France and buy one there.
Another thing to note here is of course also that the iPhone in it’s present form does not have UMTS which is probably needed if you want to use it with other providers for a more reasonable price as not everybody supports EDGE. So all in all it might be worth waiting anyway for a new version which has UMTS (and maybe GPS).
Update: German newspaper “Die Welt” now has more information about how it’s going from here. Basically T-Mobile is waiting for the court to rule and after that this offer to sell it without contract might be taken back. Thus it might be a limited offer which in turn might raise a run on it. Beside that they also mention the issues that a) The iPhone will also not be unlocked after the 2 year contract, thus is still unusable then with other providers. Moreover (as in the US) T-Mobile and Apple have full access to your phone in terms of software updates etc. So I personally am still hoping for some better conditions here. The iPhone might sound like the future, the contracts and conditions clearly not.