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.
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
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.