Vimpelcom, one of three Russian carriers to recently announce agreements with Apple to sell the iPhone, will not subsidize the device when it goes on sales this year. “We are in principle considering no subsidies for the time being as Russian law does not allow locking mobile phones,” Vimpelcom CEO Alexander Izosimov said in an interview. Izosimov added that the company is eager to begin sales of the iPhone. “The earlier we start working with it, the better we will be prepared. It is not technologies that will change, but the business model,” Izosimov said. “Our research shows that when the iPhone falls into the hands of a customer, the use of data services increases by four to five times.”
Apple and carrier partner AT&T have been sued on the ground that they have knowingly oversold the iPhone 3G, resulting in reduced network performance in places where many iPhone 3Gs are in use at once. The complaint, filed in a San Diego court by iPhone customer William Gillis, relies primarily on various Internet reports from the last two months, which state that initial (pre-software 2.0.2) iPhone 3G network power demands, combined with the “high volume” of iPhone 3G sales, have resulted in reduced 3G speeds and in some cases inability to use the 3G network. The complaint also states that Apple provides no warning of possible issues on the product’s packaging. A disclaimer “points out to them to ask questions, to further investigate, or [for companies] to simply disclose complete and accurate information about the product,” the lawsuit reads. “This is especially true in the case of the speed and performance of an expensive [device]; an important feature in any electronics device purchase.” Gillis is seeking class action status for the suit so that any affected AT&T subscriber in California could receive compensation. The suit calls for both Apple and AT&T to pay restitution as well as punitive damages.
An image appearing on a number of websites this weekend, supposedly showing a new Belkin game controller for the iPhone called the “JoyPod,” is in fact a hoax, iLounge has learned. Following publication of the image, iLounge contacted Belkin to confirm the product’s validity, and was told that “[t]he ‘JoyPod’ is not a Belkin product, but simply a false rumor,” and that the company has “no plans to release such a product.” As previously noted by iLounge, the iPhone OS does not allow third-party applications to access the iPhone or iPod touch’s Dock Connector port for wired accessories such as joypads or keyboards, though this could change in the future should Apple update the OS to permit further accessory support.
O2 in the United Kingdom has announced that it will begin offering the iPhone 3G to Pay & Go pre-pay customers on September 16. The 8GB iPhone 3G for Pay & Go will be available for £350 (~$625) and the 16GB model for £400 ($715), both of which will include one full year of unlimited data and Wi-Fi throughout the UK. At the end of the 12 months users can continue to receive unlimited browsing and Wi-Fi for £10 (~$18) per month. Unfortunately, Pay & Go customers will not be able to use the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail feature or call merging. In June, O2 revealed its expected pricing for Pay & Go iPhone 3G units, and had both models selling for between £40 and £50 less, but with only 6 months of included data and Wi-Fi.
Following iPhone 3G reception testing and an informal survey from earlier this week suggesting that the device’s speed problems were tied to its individual carriers and not the phone itself, an Orange representative has confirmed (Translated link) that the company is capping all French “hybrid” phones to 384kbps. According to France Info, the cap is placed all phones with handheld computing capabilities; Orange has promised to raise the cap to 1 megabit per second starting on September 15. [via AppleInsider]
An Apple television ad for the original iPhone misled customers, ruled the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a regulatory body in the United Kingdom. BBC News reports that the ASA received two complaints concerning the statement that “all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone.” The group said that because the iPhone lacks support for Flash and Java, the claim was misleading. Apple has argued that the claim referred to the availability of webpages, rather than their specific appearance; however, the ASA said the spot “gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone” and must not be aired again in its current form. “Because the iPhone doesn’t support Flash or Java, you couldn’t really see the internet in its full glory,” said Olivia Campbell, a spokesperson for the ASA. “They made a very general claim that you can see the internet in its entirety, and actually that’s not quite true - so we’ve upheld.”
AT&T has announced two new international data plans for iPhone users traveling abroad. The new plans, which offer 100MB and 200MB of international data and cost $120 and $200 per month, respectively, join the company’s current international plans for smartphones, which offer 20MB and 50MB in the same countries. “AT&T has worked diligently to provide affordable options for international roaming because the feature-rich mobile experience of iPhone is indispensable to users,” said Bill Hague, executive vice president of International for AT&T’s wireless operations. “With these new international data plans, iPhone users can access more data in more countries for less cost.” AT&T says customers can make calls in more than 200 countries and access the Internet in more than 150 countries, more than 60 of which offer 3G coverage.
Intuit has announced the launch of its QuickBooks Online web application for the iPhone and iPod touch. QuickBooks Online for the iPhone lets users view balance sheet and profit & loss reports, bank account and credit card balances, vendor, customer, and employee lists, accounts receivable and payable, and QuickBooks Online contact information, which works with the iPhone to make calls, create emails, and look up addresses using the Maps application. Intuit’s QuickBooks Online for the iPhone and iPod touch is available to all QuickBooks Online users at accounting.quickbooks.com/m; QuickBooks Online accounts start at $10 per month.
Apple has released three new television ads for the iPhone 3G. All three ads, “Lonely Planet,” “Cro Mag,” and “Vicinity,” highlight the process of launching, browsing, and purchasing from the App Store, each using a different application displayed on the phone in front of a plain white background, but using the same narration. “Lonely Planet” highlights the Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook, “Cro Mag” features Pangea Software’s Cro-Mag Rally, and “Vicinity” spotlights ActiveGuru’s app of the same name. All three ads are now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Substantially breaking with prior tradition, which saw little publicity for point releases of its software, Apple has today taken active steps to promote version 2.0.2 iPhone Software, posting a new web page dedicated to the recent iPhone Software 2.0.2 update, an iTunes Store link, and a SMS text message to notify users of the release. The web page offers step-by-step instructions on how to update an iPhone to the most recent software, accompanied by related screenshots, while the text message reads: “An important software update for iPhone 3G has been available on iTunes since this past Monday. To get it, simply synch your iPhone 3G with iTunes and click the ‘Check For Update’ button.” It is unclear whether the announcements are related to an MSNBC article from earlier this week calling for better notification of iPhone and iPod touch software updates, or whether they are a response to legal threats relating to poor iPhone 3G performance, which Apple claims that the 2.0.2 software fixes.
Orange, one of two carriers of the iPhone 3G in Poland and the country’s largest mobile operator, has admitted to paying actors to stand in line for the handset in order to attract customers. “We have these fake queues at front of 20 stores around the country to drum up interest in the iPhone,” an Orange spokesman said. Rival carrier Era’s stores had no lines for the phone, which went on sale in Poland and twenty other countries today.
Apple is planning to build between 40 and 45 million iPhone 3Gs between now and August 2009, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing a person familiar with the company’s plans, the report says that Apple boosted its production plans — they had expected to build 30 million in 12 months — due to stronger than expected initial sales. To be able to reach that number, the article suggests, Apple will need to continue its international rollout, avoid component supply constraints, and address performance complaints. Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf adds that the company will also need to work on cutting down the time it takes to purchase and activate the phone. “The physical process of activating the phone is the bottleneck,” Wolf says.
Takeshi Natsuno, developer of Japan’s first Internet cell phone service, i-mode, has praised the iPhone in an interview with the AP, saying that his country’s cellular manufacturers could “never” produce such a device. “This is a great device,” Natsuno said while holding his iPhone 3G. “This kind of device cannot be produced by Japanese manufacturers. Never.” Natsuno, who left Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo three months ago, described current Japanese cellular executives as conservative, and lacking the creative sensibilities of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “They have to take a risk,” he said. “To do that, clear direction, clear vision, clear leadership are necessary.” Although Natsuno is obviously enthusiastic about the iPhone’s ease of use and multi-touch interface, he admits to carrying a DoCoMo handset as well, because the iPhone lacks some Japan-centric features such as wallet phone capability.
Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Apple have reached an agreement on the sale of iPhones in Russia, according to a Reuters report. Citing an anonymous market source, the report states that retail sales of the phone will begin in October. “MTS has made an agreement with Apple on the sale of iPhones,” the source said. “Sales are likely to begin in October.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously said that he expected a Russian carrier agreement to “happen later this year,” and MTS has confirmed that it has held talks with Apple about offering the iPhone. It is currently unknown whether the agreement would be exclusive.
Update: Russian newspaper Vedomosti is reporting (Translated link) that two other major Russian carriers, Vimpelcom and MegaFon, have also signed agreements with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G. The report claims that both Vimpelcom and Megafon have each agreed to sell 1.5 million iPhones in the next two years, while MTS is said to be committed to selling one million of the devices over three years.
Apple has been sued for failure to live up to its iPhone 3G performance claims. Plaintiff Jessica Alena Smith filed a federal lawsuit against the company in U.S. District Court in Alabama, alleging that despite Apple’s claims that the device is “twice as fast,” it is slower than advertised and prone to dropping calls. “Apple sold these devices on the promise that they were twice as fast as the pre-existing phones and that they would function suitably, or properly, on the 3G network. But, thus far, Apple and the phone have failed to deliver on this promise,” said Jonathan Kudulis, an attorney with the Trimmier Law Firm that is representing Smith. In her filing, Smith seeks class action certification to represent additional iPhone 3G purchasers.
Both Vodafone in India and SingTel in Singapore have announced their pricing for the iPhone 3G, which will launch in both countries on August 22. Vodafone will charge Rs 31,000 (~$709) for the 8GB iPhone 3G and Rs 36,100 (~$826) for 16GB models. Customers who pre-registered for the iPhone 3G with Vodafone will be able to visit a select Vodafone Store on August 20 or 21 and confirm their booking by paying Rs 10000 as a deposit. The customer will then be given an appointment date on the 22, at which they can pay the remaining balance, receive their phone, and get a full demonstration. iPhone-specific service rates and pricing have yet to be announced; however, initial reports suggest that the high hardware prices will likely keep most potential Indian users from being able to afford the device in the first place.
SingTel will offer the phone on a tiered pricing scale, with prices for the 8GB model ranging from free to S$348 (~$247), and the 16GB models priced between free and S$508 (~$361). Three iFlexi plans will be offered with the handset, priced between S$56 (~$40) and S$205 (~$145) per month and including between 1GB and 3GB of bundled data per month. For more information on SingTel’s pricing and service plans, visit the carrier’s iPhone page.
Update: Bharti Airtel has also announced its pricing for the iPhone 3G in India, and will offer the handest for the same prices as Vodafone: Rs 31,000 for the 8GB model and Rs 36,100 for 16GB models.
Apple has released iPhone Software 2.0.2, the latest update to the iPhone and iPod touch software. As with software version 2.0.1, Apple describes the new software as containing simply “bug fixes.” It is currently unclear whether this update will address the reception problems currently being experienced by some iPhone 3G users. The download is 248.7MB in size for the iPhone 3G and 241.9MB for the iPhone, and is available now for the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and iPod touch units running software version 2.0 or later through the update feature in iTunes.
Update: The “Update All” button has been removed from the mobile App Store’s Update section.
Turkcell, Turkey’s largest wireless provider with 35.4 million customers, has announced that it will begin offering the iPhone 3G in Turkey later this year. Vodafone previously announced that it will offer the iPhone in Turkey, making Turkcell Apple’s second carrier partner for the country. Turkcell said the iPhone will be available to both subscription and prepaid customers, but did not provide a release date or pricing information.
iPhone Software 2.1 beta 4 has been released to select iPhone developers, surprisingly stripped of the push notification service support seen in earlier beta releases of 2.1. According to Apple, the feature — designed to let applications such as instant messaging services continue to provide updates even when not active — has been pulled “for further development.” Apple has previously said the feature would be ready by September; it is unclear whether its removal is indicative of a delay.
Apple is planning on issuing a fix for current iPhone 3G reception problems through a software update rather than a physical recall, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing two anonymous but “well-placed” sources, the article claims the problems are being caused by glitches related to a communications chip made by Infineon, corroborating an earlier statement from Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. One BusinessWeek source suggests that the glitches are solely caused by the Infineon chip, which the article notes is fairly new and is yet untested in high volumes. Another source claims those problems may be also be linked to overly-agressive 3G bandwidth demands, saying that Apple programmed the Infineon chip to demand a more powerful 3G signal than the iPhone really requires, causing the phone to decide that there is insufficient power available, and switch to the slower (EDGE) network. According to the report, the problem appears to be increased in areas where there are more active 3G devices than AT&T and Apple had planned for. Neither Apple nor Infineon has yet made a statement regarding reception issues with the iPhone 3G.