Apple makes SA wait again

Johannesburg, 10 Jun 2010
Read time 4min 50sec

Apple has unveiled the iPhone 4, but there is no indication of when SA can expect to receive this smartphone.

iPhone carrier Vodacom says: “Vodacom will launch iPhone 4, the thinnest smartphone in the world, with the highest resolution display ever built into a phone, in SA in the coming months.”

Executive head of corporate communications Richard Boorman says it has no further information on the South African release date other than to expect it in the coming months. “Bearing in mind that it's only June, I'd guess that based on 'in the coming months' it would be this year. I don't have any other details at this stage.”

He adds that no date has yet been given for the iPad's release in SA either.

The lucky few

Apple says the iPhone 4 will be available in the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan on 24 June.

Overseas customers will be able to pre-order their iPhone 4 beginning Tuesday, 15 June, from the Apple Online Store, or reserve an iPhone 4 to pick up at an Apple Retail Store.

By the end of July, the smartphone will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, according to Apple.

It adds that the iPhone 4 will be rolled out worldwide to 88 countries by the end of September.

Alan Hely, senior director of corporate communications at Apple, says no expected date can be given for release here. “We have not made any other announcements at this point in time for SA.”

However, WWW Strategy MD Steven Ambrose says SA is one of the 88 countries that will receive the iPhone 4 in September and it will be brought in by Vodafone.

Never too thin...

Apple calls the iPhone 4 the thinnest smartphone ever, at 9.3mm.

It will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model, according to Apple.

The smartphone will feature FaceTime, which enhances video calling, and Apple's new Retina display, which results in crisp text, images and video.

“iPhone 4 is the biggest leap since the original iPhone,” says Steve Jobs, Apple CEO. “FaceTime video calling sets a new standard for mobile communication, and our new Retina display is the highest resolution display ever in a phone, with text looking like it does on a fine printed page. We have been dreaming about both of these breakthroughs for decades.”

The iPhone 4 comes with iOS 4 (Apple's operating system), which includes over 100 new features and 1 500 new application program interfaces for developers. iOS 4 features multitasking, folders, enhanced mail, deeper enterprise support and Apple's new iAd mobile advertising platform, says the company.

“In addition, iPhone 4 features a 5MP camera with LED flash, HD video recording, Apple's A4 processor, a three-axis gyro and up to 40% longer talk time - in a beautiful all-new design of glass and stainless steel.”

Losing out

“The next six months are going to bring huge innovation in the mobile market,” says Ambrose. He adds that the iPhone 4 will be brought to SA at a time when the market will be flooded with new releases, from new BlackBerry OS6 devices, to Windows Phone 7 releases and Nokia's Symbian 3.

“This will dilute the impact of the iPhone 4, but it is by no means a groundbreaking product. It is not a revolutionary product, but an evolutionary one from a technical point of view,” adds Ambrose.

He says this is for SA especially, where, according to Vodacom, only 90 000 iPhones have been sold. “According to our World Wide Worx research, that's less than 1% of mobile phones sold. It's low-impact in terms of the number sold in SA, but the noise surrounding it is huge.”

Ambrose adds that one of the best things about iPhones is that they push other phone manufacturers to innovate and “up their game”.

The iPhone may already have seen some competition, with Motorola's Milestone tipped to be the best possible competitor to Apple's iPhone.

International cellular giant Motorola has returned to SA, signing an exclusive deal with MTN to bring its Milestone handset to South African consumers.

The phone, called the Milestone locally, and the Droid in the US, has become known as the company's best effort since its popular Razr series of devices. It is based on Google's cellular software, Android.

Another wait

Apple released its iPad at the beginning of April and has still given no indication as to when SA can expect its arrival.

It only said SA will receive the iPad “later this year”.

This was after Jobs said: “iPad is something completely new. We're excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product, and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

Some consumers have taken to grey imports of the product, since there is no release date for SA in sight, according to Rutger-Jan van Spaandonk, executive director of local Apple distributor Core.

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