There’s more to a firm or product’s success than merely the action of the firm in question.
Apple have a struck rich seam of gold with the iPhone. I recently joined said user cult, and in the Australian domestic setting, was wowed by its interface, the integration of voice and data services (plus all the apps, music and general funkiness elements).
But, here I am in Thailand and I don’t dare utilise the data roaming facilities (beyond typically unsuccessful searches for free wi-fi). I am simply unwilling to incur the astronomical prices being quoted by my Aussie telecoms provider (something like $20 a mb!), nor am I enamoured with the call costs ($1 for 30 secs).
So I am back using a 1st generation Nokia with a local SIM card and a ridiculously cheap prepaid topup. I also carry what is now effectively a very pricey iPhone touch in case someone calls from down under.
It is alarming how easily the utility of a nifty product can fall away.
It is criminal how the various national (and international) telecoms players interact to generate such enormous rents from international travellers. There were similar problems in the voice domain a decade ago, but someone clearly broke the cartel.
The challenge is there for Apple given their headline device is so data hungry. It is scaring off corporate clients. There is a lot of noise around the internet from dissatisfied customers slugged with outrageous bills.
Apple has rewritten the handset provider-telecoms bargaining relationship, earning a considerably higher percentage of call revenues than their competitors. Will they flex their muscles on the global roaming front and thus maintain their unofficial role as the purported patron saints of consumers everywhere?