The Rest of the World…

Posted by Zealot on Jun 18, 2008

closeThis post was published 6 years 4 months 3 days ago which may make its actuality or expire date not be valid anymore. This site is not responsible for any misunderstanding.

As the ongoing sturm und drang about the iPhone has been roiling around me, my thoughts keep going back to Apple’s “New World Order” and the long list of countries the new 3G iPhone is rolling out to in July.

iPhone countries The length of the list is certainly impressive and an achievement for Apple’s deal makers and the tech press/apple supporters which have relentlessly pushed the iPhone. It also does speak highly of the quality of the product. It is rare to find so much global interest in what is basically a high-end gadget.

However, I have begun to pay more attention to the actual content of this 70+ nation list. Some of the countries that are included seem a bit odd to be waiting in line for luxury tech-toys. Ivory Coast? Senegal? Macau? Guinea Bissau? Certainly these countries and their citizens have every right to purchase iPhones if they wish, but I hardly think they will see screaming mobs besieging the Mauritius Apple Store. Do you REALLY need 3G in Mali, where there is no 3G network to the best of my knowledge? Sort of like owning a clipper ship in Nebraska…nice, but it might as well be a rhododendron planter. In fact, I would say the vast majority of the countries on that list are 5 to 10 years away from deploying 3G anything.

This makes me think (cynical, I know) that most of the countries on this list are just there to pad the numbers. My cynicism is made all the stronger when I consider the countries that are NOT getting the iPhone. In fact, most of the major tech producing/utilizing countries outside North America/Europe are not getting the new iPhone, including:

  • South Korea
  • Israel
  • China
  • Taiwan
  • Russia
  • Dubai/UAE

So you can get an iPhone in Dakar or Yamoussoukro but not in Beijing, Moscow, or Seoul…seem odd to you too?

Most of the countries on the No iPhone list have fairly obvious reasons to be there. South Korea and Taiwan both have long histories of making it tough (read “impossible”) for outsiders to compete with local heroes like Samsung and HTC. China tends to prefer homegrown tech 10 to 1 over imports, even buying local knock offs of available foreign products. Russia, Israel and Dubai have strong local providers that would not take kindly to the price point that At&T has set. High-end cellular phones are so entrenched in those countries, with many residents swapping them yearly for the newest models, that there is no need for them to go for saturation over profit as At&T is doing in the states.

All of these are good reasons, but they tend to give the lie to Steve Job’s vision of universal iPhonage and global reach as a telecom vendor…and the thought that the new release will end jailbreaking. Until Apple’s iPhone finds a way to compete legitimately in markets like China as they do in the US or France, the revolution Apple claims is being televised won’t even have gotten started yet. For now, the iPhone is still a mainly Western product. Good or bad, it just is.

Zealot (839 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


By day a department manager and writer for a major network device vendor...by night Zealot stalks the mean magnetic streets, striking fear into the hearts of bandwidth abusers and theme park mascots. Zealot has been involved with mobile devices for more than a decade now, starting off with dumb phones, moving to PDAs and then to smartphones, notebooks and netbooks with the odd PMP thrown in. Most of his mobile time currently is spent on a Treo Pro, Zune HD, Thinkpad T61, HP Mini 311, iPod Touch 3G, iPad 16G or a Hackintoshed Compaq Mini 704. He proudly groks the Geek community and considers himself a Neo Maxi Zune Dweebie (thanks Wil Wheaton!).

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  • Pedah

    You can’t sell a phone where you can’t find food at a reasonable price, let alone a phone tower! :azz:

  • doogald

    Isn’t South Korea almost completely CDMA? Is there any GSM at all in South Korea? I’m not sure; I thought that it was basically all CDMA.

    And are you so desperate to criticize Apple that you need to bring up something like this?

  • Zealot

    Both SK and Freetel support 3G in South Korea, so they could handle the iPhone.

  • cgavula

    Huh. It sounds like you’re trying to assert that Apple is only signing up only bit players outside of North America and Europe, but I suspect that people in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru (basically a healthy chunk of Central and South America) etc. – not to mention the more than 1 billion people in India – all markets outside of North America/Europe, may beg to differ with your assessment.

  • Zealot

    No, those nations aren’t bit players (especially not Japan and India) and I am sure those subscribers who live their who wish an iPhone are pleased. However those nations you listed they don’t even make up a quarter of the list from Apple.

    Do I say that Apple was ONLY signing up bit players? No, I do not, not only.

    Do I say that Apple was padding their numbers by adding marginal or downright technically impossible markets, while not securing deals in enormous markets where the competition may be fiercer and not as much of a gimme despite making a big PR noise that the iPhone is now world wide?

    Yes, I am.

  • cgavula

    India is not an enormous market?

    Half a billion people in Central and South America are not a large market?

    Whether or not those markets have 3G service isn’t relevant. The iPhone works well even without 3G services as well – I should know I’m in a non-3G market in the US.

    You don’t directly say that Apple is padding the list with bit plays, but you sure do strongly imply it!

    Personally, I don’t see Apple pushing the number of countries as strongly as they are pushing the size of the markets represented by the overall list of countries.

    India represents more than a billion people.

    Central/South America around half a billion people.

    The U.S. + Europe are over half a billion people.

    Japan plus the Phillipines plus Australia and New Zealand are over 200 million.

    That totals over 2 billion people right there.

    On top of all that, it again looks like they may be close to a deal in China (and they’ve included Simplified and traditional Chinese character support in the 2.0 device/OS).

    I really doubt that Apple needs to pad the country list.

    You really do appear to be trying to draw conclusions out of nothing and creating an issue where there is none.

  • Fr. Ignatius

    These countries are the ones that Apple has been able to get deals with the local markets. I do not believe that they do not want to be in these other markets, it is just that they have not signed the deals (as of yet). It looks like Russia will be signing a deal before the end of the year.

  • Zealot

    I am sure they want them, who wouldn’t. All I was speculating about was why they didn’t, what the lack might mean and if without them, the iPhone “phenomenon” would be lacking.

    While I may not be a fan of the iPhone or Apple, I do feel tey are both good for the spread of wireless technology, so I look forward to the announcements. I won’t enjoy the hype, but I will enjoy the news.

  • doogald

    Business Week has a good article talking specifically about South Korea’s disinterest in the iPhone.

    See http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jun2008/gb20080613_275686.htm

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