28 April 2008

Apple's iPhone goes 3G and downunder.

Apple's new 3G iPhone looks set for a June global launch in Australia.

According to a New York Times article on Sunday, Apple is likely to launch it's 3G iPhone in June. The new phone has been designed to to further increase its appeal to both consumers and carriers in Australia, Asia and Europe.

A number of Australian carriers, including Vodafone, are known to have been internally trialling the phone on their networks for months now. The trials and the arrival of the 3G version confirm that the new iPhones will now be able to run on Australian 3G networks.

The launch of the new phone seems designed to coincide with the opening of Apple's Australian flagship store in Sydney. Part of Apple's global rollout, the flagship stores are designed to not only enhance the brand but underpin Apple's direct sales strategy.

The NYT reported that analysts and the industry were expecting Apple to introduce the 3G phone to ensure Apple's Steve Jobs meets his 10 million iPhone sales forecast by the end of 2008.

More than 1.7 million iPhones were sold by Apple last quarter with Apple struggling to meet demand in particularly in the US and Europe. However, this contrasts with reports of lagging European sales being blamed on Apple's network exclusivity, pricing and lack of 3G capability. Complicating demand issues is the widespread belief that more than 1 million unlocked phones have found homes outside the US and are not in official carrier forecasts.

Meanwhile, competition is expected from Samsung's Instinct and LG's Vu, both very similar to the iPhone. Both were premiered at the Las Vegas CTIA Wireless 2008 earlier this month and are expected to launch on US networks soon. They will also pose a significant threat to Job's ability to meet analysts' expectations and will add urgency to the 3G launch.