3G iPhone said to be imminent – will it help UK sales?

A 3G version of Apple’s iPhone could be on its way – literally – if one analyst’s sources are to be believed.

According to “sources in Asia”, Gartner’s Ken Dulaney says that Apple has placed a 10 million unit order for a 3G version of the iPhone — the handset’s first major hardware update since its launch last June. During a telephone briefing with iPod Observer, Dulaney also speculated that the updated iPhone would utilize OLED technology for the device’s display which should help improve battery life.

The lack of ’3G’ – a mobile data technology that enables much faster Internet access on cell phones compared with the currently supported EDGE (2.5G) – is seen as a major shortfall of the iPhone, and is in part being blamed for poor sales in Europe. Hence Apple’s imminent move to a 3G iPhone, says Dulaney.

Other factors may also be at play.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has always defended the iPhone’s lack of 3G based on the extra power consumption and size of a 3G chip set. Over twelve months on, it may simply be that the technology has caught up, as predicted at the time by Jobs. We also shouldn’t discount Japan as the iPhone’s next target market, where 3G is even more established than in Europe. Anything less than 3G just won’t fly.

Will a 3G iPhone help UK sales?

Despite having cited the lack of 3G support as one of my own reasons for buying an iPod touch and not an iPhone, I don’t think that in the UK it’s the major deal breaker. Instead it all comes down to price.

We Brits just aren’t accustomed to paying £269 ($538 approx.) for a handset that would ordinarily be heavily subsidized by the carrier. As an example, O2 – the iPhone’s exclusive UK network – sells Nokia’s flagship 8GB N95 starting at £99 to free depending on which tariff is selected. The equivalently priced iPhone tariff may offer more but the higher upfront cost, for many, is off putting.

Until Apple cuts the price of the iPhone – 3G or no 3G – I can’t see it selling in volume in the UK anytime soon. Of course, were the iPhone price to be slashed, the same would need to happen to the iPod touch too.

What do you think? How can Apple invigorate iPhone sales in the UK?

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.

One Response to “3G iPhone said to be imminent – will it help UK sales?”

  1. Nathan says:

    I think that if apple want to boost sales in the uk they should enter into some kind of talks with 02 to lower the tariff price. The cost of the phone itself didn’t bother me but having to for the phone as well as such a high monthly dissuaded me out of buying it.