Mobile operator O2 has announced that it is to 'simplify' tariffs
associated with the Apple iPhone, in a move not at all connected with alleged slow sales
in the UK.
The expensive gadget is currently only available on a 200 cross-network minute and 200 text messages contract for an eye-watering £35 per month, but the new pricing will increase that to 600 minutes and 500 messages for the same price.
If you're a heavy user and are on the £55-a-month tariff you'll find a yourself a tenner better off each month from February onwards as the mid-range package drops to £45. Finally, the wallet-melting £75 a month tariff offers 3,000 minutes for the chatterboxes out there, but strangely keeps the rather miserly 500 messages of the lower brackets.
Americans reading this will probably be confused at the low figures offered for 'airtime', so an explanation is in order: in the UK it's a seller-pays system for calling mobile phones, and the recipient of the call doesn't have to spend any of their inclusive minutes on anything except outgoing calls.
Another inclusion is a cap for data transfer via the device: although users will still pay a per-kilobyte charge for data downloaded on the phone, this is now capped at £1 a day in a move not at all reminiscent of rival operator T-Mobile's Web-n-Walk package.
O2 is clearly hoping that shaving the cost of ownership will help boost sales of the device, which is currently perceived in the UK as being just too damn expensive no matter how smart an interface it has. The company is probably also hoping to stem the tide of unlocking: it's estimated that one million iPhone handsets have been hacked to operate outside the mandatory contract.
Sadly, although the iPhone/O2 contract may be becoming more reasonable, there is still no sign in the purchase price of the handset itself being dropped. I guess I'll be sticking with my Toshiba for a while longer then.
Tempted into Apple's clutches by the improved contract, or is it too little too late? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums