No. Apple’s new iPhone won’t be launched in India on 11 July, the day when it will be launched in the US. At least, there are no such plans so far. However, Vodafone and Airtel have announced the phone’s launch on their respective networks sometime soon. Again, there are no specific dates. What you can be sure of is that you will get it on a subscription plan that costs more than one for a regular plan.
But, that may not be all. Are you ready to pay an optional $99 (Rs4,257) per annum? Apple.co.in/iphone/getready.html mentions how you should prepare for the launch of the iPhone by migrating all your existing contacts, calendars, and even your personal photos, to specific applications on your PC or Mac, or to popular Web services.
Illustration by Malay Karmakar / MINT
Should you then choose to migrate your data to Apple’s new Me.com site, the Web service will sync your data from any device with any other device, concurrently. That means, a contact in your Outlook Express on Windows, a new calendar entry on your Macbook, or a new email from your iPhone will sync automatically with all the other devices.
The catch? Apple may get to own your data, and charge you an annual $99 to store, use and sync this. Just remember, it is optional.
The new Me.com, dubbed “MobileMe”, provides you with a new Web presence in Apple’s own Web-cloud, for an annual fee. Within two years, you’ll end up paying as much as you did for your iPhone, which comes bundled with a free, 45-day Me.com offer.
You get email, contacts, calendars, galleries and 20GB file-storage. This is also Apple trying really hard to take some market-share away from Google’s services. Except that Google is free, and offers you many more Web services and Web “widgets”, and even Web-based applications such as Google Docs.
MP3 may not be free
Almost everyone’s mobile handset in India contains a growing collection of MP3 music, most of it perhaps freely acquired. This is Apple’s biggest competition to both the venerable iPod, and its profit-making iTunes service. Well, the iPhone is also a full-blown iPod. The other good news is that the iPhone gives you almost DVD-quality playback of films and downloaded high-quality video, should you connect the iPhone to your home TV using the optional connector cable, which costs Rs2,690 plus taxes.
Apple exhorts potential users to start building their digital library exclusively using iTunes, so that Apple can not only sync your collection, but assist in enforcing DRM (Digital Rights Management) where applicable, while encouraging you to consider purchasing music at 99 cents (Rs42.47) per track.
In fact, you have no choice but to use iTunes to manage your music, films and TV shows. You do, however, have the option of ripping your legally-purchased CDs and syncing them with iTunes for free. Should you try to circumvent Apple’s software and services, or try installing unauthorized software through a technique called “jailbreaking”, Apple may just come down heavily on you.
You may risk damaging your iPhone, making it completely useless (also known as “bricking the iPhone”). Did I also mention that so far you cannot download music from iTunes over GPRS or 3G, but only via Wi-Fi?
The third-party catch
Whether you’re a single end-user looking for games, chatting, social networking or other software, or an enterprise user looking for mobile business-apps, Apple wants you to purchase software only from its online retail, the AppStore. This includes both Apple-branded and third-party applications. Apple gets to keep 30% of the revenue on third-party applications, but charges nothing if the developer wishes to give it away free.
However, every developer must still pay an Apple Developer Connection sign-up fee of $99 to get software hosted on AppStore.
Details of the iPhone’s launch in India are yet to be formally announced. When they are, do read the fine print to check if you have to pay for subsequent upgrades or newer versions of the Mac OS software that powers the new iPhone.
Finally, for any business or enterprise software that you purchase or get developed, double-check that it adheres to open-standards of data and offers what is called 100% interoperability. And do prefer any software that is offered under a free and open-source licence.
All these ensure you don’t find yourself locked-in with a vendor or a proprietary standard, and that the software has no malicious code, hidden back-doors, or security issues.
Ties that bind us
The iPhone’s actual cost is subsidized by its service providers such as AT&T, who tie users in with a two-year contract. What if a service provider does not wish to subsidize the cost?
Reputed website, Engadget.com, among others, report that in Italy, Vodafone will offer the iPhone at an unsubsidized price of €499 (Rs32,934) for the 8GB model, and €569 for the 16GB one.
And then, what if you’ve subscribed to or wish to move your iPhone to a phone service company other than Vodafone or Airtel? Tough luck. Considering an iPhone that has been illegally unlocked may not be a good option. In the US, Apple and its service partners are cracking down on iPhone unlockers. According to industry reports, AT&T will penalize customers who don’t activate their phones within 30 days.
The 3G phone allows Web-surfing and data transfers at twice the speed of the existing EDGE network. However, India doesn’t have 3G network yet. Until then, if you don’t have an accessible Wi-Fi connection, you’re stuck with EDGE.
The final verdict
Definitely say yes to the new iPhone 3G and fulfil your desire. But be careful about the hidden costs and issues.
Being forewarned is forearmed—with an iPhone.
Underbelly of the iPhone
* A list of everything the iPhone does not do
* For all its iPod-ness, you can’t use Bluetooth stereo-headphones with it
*You cannot add external memory cards
*So far, there is no word on whether the software, or the Web-browser,support Adobe Flash plug-in, a favourite among gamers and multimedia websites. Apple does provide a special software for watching YouTube videos,which are actually flash-encoded
*Despite its GPS capabilities, Apple forbids development of software applications that provide real-time route-guidance for maps and locations. This is a part of its agreement in the Apple Software Development Kit
*The new iPhone has a plastic casing at the back, unlike the full-metal casing of first iPhone
*The battery is sealed inside and, therefore, is not replaceable by users
*There is no voice-recording support or line-in support
*There is no MMS support. But you could use full-featured email
*The new iPhone has no video-capture. Perhaps a third-party application may solve this issue
*It has a rather modest 2 megapixel camera
*It has no simple cut/copy/paste function
*Stated operating temperature is 0-35 degrees Celsius
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