Thursday, June 11, 2009

iPhone 3G S making waves, and not the good kind

On Tuesday June 9th, Apple made the much anticipated announcement of the new iPhone, the iPhone 3G S. The excitement was building to a level I had not seen before, and especially being kind of "non-techy" it nearly shocked me to see grown men and women acting like children on Christmas eve. Actually, I really think it may have been bigger than that, I think I'm going to go so far as to say the the behavior I saw in friends and across the Internet was more closely related to the fanaticism you see when you look at a pre-teen who is just about to meet her favorite Jonas brother.

Normally I wouldn't follow such a thing, an iPhone is just another cool phone to me. And in full disclosure, I don't own one, I have a BlackBerry. Perhaps that was my problem. That being said, I was interested in what the new iPhone would be like, what new features it would have, and how much it would make the old iPhone look like a 1985 Macintosh. So I watched, read, checked out the twitter trending topic. The second Steve Jobs spoke, his words literally flooded my computer screen at an amazing pace. I got all the info I needed, it wasn't much of a difference. You get a compass and a few features AT&T won't allow the iPhone users to access, at least not until the end of the year anyway. So, that lead me to think, "What are the iPhone junkies thinking now? That's got to be a let down, a huge let down." I was wrong. The excitement grew as the release date was announced and iPhone junkies were ecstatic, until they read the fine print.

According to the AT&T website, the iPhone 3G S pre-orders will start to show up on doorsteps June 19th. But before that can happen, current iPhone users looking for an upgrade need to make a huge decision. Right now (Thursday June 11th 10PM CST) current users have three options to purchase a new iphone, the first: pay to upgrade. This would be anywhere from $399 (16GB) - $499 (32GB) just for the phone. This isn't including the $18 upgrade fee, the additional $18 "one-time AT&T upgrade fee" or the extra $30 per month mandatory data plan. The second option: cancel your contract. Yep. You heard it right. AT&T customer service reps are actually telling irrate iPhone users that if they don't want to pay the full price to upgrade their phone they can cancel their contracts and start over as a "new" customer. But its going to cost you. The early termination fee is $175. I bet you're thinking, "Great, I'll take it!" But there's a catch. You then have to wait 90 days (after losing your phone number) to get a new contract with AT&T. And you'll still be paying $199 or $299 for your phone. The third option: wait until your contract is up and you can upgrade without all the hoops and extra cost. I'm sure by then a new iPhone will be released and you can, once again, be back up to speed with the rest of civilization.

So aside from the obvious bind this puts most "tech junkies" in, it also creates some moral questions. Especially since you, the customer, signed a contract with a company stating that you will be a customer for 2 years in exchange for the subsidized price on the iPhone you purchased last year. So based on my course work in the subject of "Life" and contracts, one would only assume that you are not entitled to a "discount" upgrade in the middle of your contract since you haven't totally fulfilled your part of the agreement. Sure, you can pay the $175 and you're all square, AT&T gets its subsidized money back and you are now free from your contract and the proud owner of an outdated iPhone that you can't use. Seems fair to me. According to a few blogs I've read this week pertaining to this issue, many customers have been loyal to AT&T and the iPhone brand and now they feel betrayed. From a business standpoint, you want a $500 phone for $250, I (as the business owner) will give you the phone for $250 in exchange for you signing a contract that you will be my customer for 2 years, I'll even give you a discounted upgrade at the end of those two years for staying loyal to me. Seems fair to me, and one heck of a deal.

I guess we will all just have to wait and see what Apple and AT&T do next. Perhaps Apple will issue everyone who upgrades and pays full price for the iPhone 3G S a $50 iTunes credit or an Apple store discount for life. Who knows. But all that I'm seeing now is a bunch of grown men and women literally crying over this piece of metal and plastic. Its a phone. Yes, its an iPhone. But its still JUST a phone. If you want it bad enough I guess you're just going to have to do what you need to do to get it. And for some, no price is too high to be the first to own something that everyone will have soon enough.

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