Are European carriers playing hardball with Apple?

iPhone boxWith the iPhone’s pending European release expected before the year’s end, a week hasn’t gone by without new rumors of which carrier has secured an exclusive distribution deal with Apple — with the latest reports suggesting that Vodafone may now be leading the charge. However, perhaps more interesting is speculation that the European carriers are playing hardball with Apple, demanding that the company fix a number of shortcomings with the iPhone, which they believe could otherwise stifle sales.

According to Unstrung, Vodafone, along with other European carriers, are demanding the following enhancements:

Better searching of YouTube. Apple only allows the YouTube application on the phone to do a one-word search. “Vodafone wants it to work much more like the Internet version.”

Full support for Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Since Apple doesn’t license Microsoft Activesync technology, the iPhone isn’t up to par when it comes to calendar syncing with Microsoft Outlook. Unless this is addressed, the carriers believe it will impact sales, since this is a must-have feature for the device’s targeted high-end users.

Better security features. Currently the iPhone isn’t compatible with certain Cisco technology which is popular with corporate networks.

Easier WiFi settings. “[Vodafone] wants Apple to rewrite the code to make it ‘just work like any normal human would expect.’ “

Cut ‘n’ paste. Deemed to be an “easy fix” by the telcos, the lack of cut ‘n’ paste functionality is seen as a gaping omission.

Also on the wish-list is a 3G version of the iPhone “as soon as possible”.

If the reports are true, it’s fascinating to see the Apple/carrier power struggle play out in public. In a recent post titled ‘Can the iPhone change the face of the U.S. mobile-phone industry?‘, Dan Langendorf wrote that where the iPhone had already succeeded was in “wresting an unprecedented amount of control from a carrier — in this case AT&T — in designing the device, determining its applications and mindset of use, and how to price the phone and service.” Having witnessed this from across the pond, it seems that the European mobile industry is determined not to let the same happen to them.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

4 Responses to “Are European carriers playing hardball with Apple?”

  1. OOM says:

    I-Phone is a marketing tool, not a telephone. You pay $600 + $60 AT&T for two years, that’s $600 + $1,440 = $2,040. This seems way too expensive for a phone. Correct me if I’m wrong 🙂

  2. catalin says:

    You maybe pay usd 2,040 in States, but I believe that in Europe they will charge euro 2,040!
    “the lack of cut ‘n’ paste functionality” this is unbelievable!
    Mi 5 years old Nokia Ngage QD knows that function!

  3. catalin says:

    You maybe pay usd 2,040 in States, but I believe that in Europe they will charge euro 2,040!
    “the lack of cut ‘n’ paste functionality” this is unbelievable. Mi 5 years old Nokia Ngage QD knows that function.
    And you have some error with your comments script!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Dan Langendorf wrote that where the iPhone had already succeeded was in “wresting an unprecedented amount of control from a carrier — in this case AT&T — in designing the device, determining its applications and mindset of use, and how to price the phone and service.” Having witnessed this from across the pond, it seems that the European mobile industry is determined not to let the same happen to them.”

    Yes, and of course the European market is much more mature and saturated compared to the US one. Handset-vendor lock-in is something I think most of us would like to avoid, and for the most part in Europe have avoided.

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