NZ iPhone prices disappoint fans

Last updated 10:25 08/07/2008
Reuters
PRETTY, BUT IT'LL COST YOU: The iPhone 3G will start at $979 on pre-pay, and $199 on a 24-month, $250 per month plan.

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Many Kiwis are complaining that the eagerly awaited iPhone 3G, due to go on sale on Friday, is too expensive.

Vodafone is selling Apple's 8 gigabyte iPhone 3G from $199, but to get this price customers must sign up to a 24-month plan charging $250 per month. The plan includes voice calls, SMS and 1GB of data per month.

Click here to see the plans.

Other plans charge $80 or $130 per month for 250MB and 500MB respectively, with the 8GB handset costing $549 or $449 respectively.

The 16GB iPhone models cost $150 more in each case.

Vodafone isn’t selling the iPhone on pre-pay in New Zealand.

An online petition has started up, asking Vodafone New Zealand to sell the iPhone as a pre-pay device. It currently has more than 500 signatures.

Comments on Stuff.co.nz today were overwhelmingly critical of the prices.

"I was seriously considering buying an iPhone come Friday, but I would feel like an idiot signing up for a $250 a month cellphone plan. Sorry, that is ridiculous. I knew that Vodafone would aim high, but not that high," one post read.

Another suggested an alternative to Vodafone's plans: "I'm just going to unlock one from the States instead, should be much cheaper."

And another was more blunt: "One word – stupid"

The iPhone in New Zealand will cost from $2469 to $6199 over two years, depending on the plan and how much is paid up front.

iPhone prices overseas are broadly comparable to this but often cheaper. Direct comparisons are difficult because of varying plans and exchange rates.

In Australia the 8GB iPhone will be free on a 24-month Optus plan, charging A$79 (NZ$105) per month for 700MB of data. Over two years this works out to $A1896 (NZ$2520).

Optus' 250MB plan costs A$49 per month, with a A$7 monthly charge for the handset. This works out to A$1344 (NZ$1706) over two years, about NZ$800 less than Vodafone New Zealand's 250MB iPhone plan.

Optus will also sell the 8GB model pre-pay for A$729 (NZ$926), the 16GB model for A$849 (NZ$1080), according to smh.com.au.

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In the US AT&T will sell the iPhone for US$199 (NZ$264) on a US$70 (NZ$92) per month contract, with unlimited data. Over two years this works out to US$1879 (NZ$2494).

In the UK, carrier O2 sells the 8GB version for £99 (NZ$258), with an 18-month, £30 per month contract. This gives unlimited data again, and runs at £819 (NZ$2137) over two years at current exchange rates.

In Canada, Rogers is offering a 400MB per month plan for C$60, selling the 8GB iPhone for C$199. This is a three year contract but works out to C$1639 ($NZ2135) over two years.

More international iPhone 3G comparisons are available here.

The Apple smartphone, which includes an internet browser, GPS, and other features – is the second version of the iPhone but the first to be released legitimately in New Zealand. However, many Kiwis imported the first version from overseas and unlocked it to run on Vodafone's network.

Vodafone's website crashed for at least 45 minutes after the pricing and plans were officially released at 10am.

Vodafone will not sell the iPhone on pre-pay, but people can buy the iPhone outright without a data plan to use only for voice and SMS on one of Vodafone's You Choose plans. In this case the 8GB model will cost $979 and the 16GB model $1129, plus the monthly cost of the plan, and it can't be used to surf the web or download emails unless you buy a separate data plan.

IDC telecommunications market analyst Tim Shepheard said the iPhone was "not overly priced" compared to other mobiles in New Zealand.

He said the plan and cost of the handset was "comparable" to other plans in New Zealand, which made it expensive internationally.

The $80/month plan was "no more" than other plans and though that made the handset more expensive, $549 was "not unreasonable" for the iPhone, Mr Shepheard said.

The $250/month plan was an "all-you-can-eat type package" with 1GB of data which was the same as a "bottom-end desktop" computer.

"The plans are comparable to other (New Zealand) data plans which, I think, we need to move away from.

"From a New Zealand perspective, it seems that this is Vodafone relying on the iPhone to sell the plan as opposed to shocking the market with a good plan."

He predicted that despite the price the iPhone would still be popular and would see "good uptake".

"I can see people being prepared to pay $549 for the iPhone and getting a smaller plan."

Cancelling an iPhone plan will cost between $260 and $1050, depending on the plan and the length of time the phone has been held.

- With NZPA

- Stuff

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