The iPhone has been one of the most sought-after mobile phones in recent history. Its product life follows a unique path, that's never been seen in another mobile phone to date. Today the iPhone family will get extended as the French hop on board. Despite the hefty price and unwieldy contract stipulations, almost everyone seems to want one and some Germans are even willing to pay EUR 999 for an unlocked unit. All that inspired us of putting down some of our editorial comments into a short article.
There's no wonder the iPhone black market is thriving and is currently bristling with activity. After all, it's Apple themselves that have created the necessary conditions for the black market to emerge in the first place - a high-end product that's sold exclusively. "Exclusivity" means that not everyone can have it. The black market however goes hand in hand with that sort of stuff.
While the Apple "white" scheme with the stiff contract agreement and the locked iPhones worked like charm in US, Europe seems to handle such entrepreneurship a different way. So as soon as the little white Apple boat landed ashore the Old Continent with their tested "white" Apple scheme, the house of cards started to crumble down. They should have seen it coming when it became known that the French law obligates the carrier to sell unlocked versions of any SIM-locked handset they offer.
However the Apple guys thought that they would deal with it later by delaying the iPhone launch in France with 20 days. However a competing German carrier (read Vodafone) brought the matter to the court and the iPhone was truly set free for the very first time not on French, but on German soil - unlocked versions of the device received the not so tempting EUR 999 (USD 1400) price tag and yet T-Mobile was selling those with success.
This proved the power of the exclusivity that Apple was selling along in iPhone package. The black market is now teeming with life in Europe and across the whole world. Thousands of iPhones have set foot in Hong-Kong where they can be bought at a price that's only USD 50 higher than the original US price.
Now even European competition has mastered an ingenuous plan that would get them a piece of the action but without getting their hands dirty. The German mobile service reseller Debitel which offers the services of the other German carriers Vodafone, E-Plus and O2, starts today a rather aggressive market campaign for owners of unlocked iPhones. They give EUR 600 rebate to each new subscriber that has bought the unlocked iPhone from T-Mobile. This effectively cuts down the price of the unlocked iPhones to the original price of EUR 399 for a locked one. What's more Debitel's rates start at 40 a month, rather than T-Mobile's lowest 49 plan, and customers that choose Debitel's Vodafone, E-Plus and O2 plans would get all Apple services, except Visual Voice Mail. That sounds like a fair trade-off - voice mail is not that popular in Europe as in the States anyways.
In the light of this all, the French are welcoming the official iPhone launch today at 6.30 pm and are probably already lining up in queues in front of the Orange centers. Allegedly, today's price will be higher than the normal one. However from tomorrow on the Apple fans over at France will have the opportunity to buy the locked iPhone with the selected Orange iPhone plans for EUR 399 (with 1- or 2-year contract), the locked iPhone with any Orange plan for EUR 549, and a fully unlocked Apple iPhone at a price of EUR 649. For all those that buy it locked now and choose to unlock it later, an unlocking fee of EUR 100 will apply, but that would be an option only during the first 6 months of acquisition. The official detailed information on the available Orange iPhone plans can be found here. The only thing that's not cleared out is whether the EUR 549-option will be including a 1- or 2-year contract as well.
Now how come is it possible that the French carrier will sell the same unlocked iPhones at a lower price than its German counterpart. Well, our guess is that as of tomorrow T-Mobile will also lower the price tag on the unlocked units and we think that the high initial price was intentional in order for people to abstain from buying the unlocked unit in huge numbers before the Apple centralized unlocking system is tested thoroughly. Many unlocked iPhone owners have noticed that the Apple unlocking service is somewhat slow to authorize the iTunes unlock through the unlocking whitelist. We suppose that the reason behind that is the unlocking system not being ready for the load - it was initially planned to start operating no sooner than tomorrow's official French launch but was prematurely forced to get out in the open by the German court ruling.
You can read more about the Apple iPhone in our Apple iPhone review and you can find out more about how third-party applications expand the capablities of the iPhone in our third-party native applications review. Enjoy your stay!
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this phone is not good
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