Telecom in 'deep discussions' with Apple
Telecom revealed its full line up of XT phones this morning, plus two data cards. The iPhone, or any netbook or other laptop with embedded 3G, was conspicuously absent, but the telco had news about both.
Observers had not been expecting an iPhone announcement today, despite Telecom’s aggressive push to demonstrate that Apple’s handset can run quite capably on its new 3G mobile network.
However, it does seem that an iPhone 3G for XT announcement is imminent.
Telecom head of retail Alan Gourdie said that his company is in “discussions - deep discussions - with Apple”. Apple declined to comment.
Telecom is steeped in Mac aficionados, with chief executive and self-described “Mac Man” Paul Reynolds eschewing his PC in favour of a MacBook; Gen-i boss Chris Quin brandishing an iPhone tweaked to run on XT; and key employees like head of broadband Ralph Brayham and Employee X (the wilfully anonymous Telecom staffer who demonstrated an iPhone SIM card swap-out for NBR) able to count Apple as a previous employer.
Dr Reynolds acknowledged there was a lot of demand for netbook deals. He said an announcement was in the works (Vodafone already has a zero-dollars up-front deal with Dell), but would not put a date on it, only offering, “it won’t be years”.
Elsewhere were no major surprises in Telecom’s cellphone line-up for its XT network, announced this morning, with most handsets pre-announced. (A few details of voice and data pricing were also revealed).
Two data devices were unveilled, the Telecom MF636 Data Card ($199) and the Sierra Wireless 885u ($399). Both are rated with a peak download speed of 7Mbit/s. Pricing plans were not announced for the cards, or any phones, although the telco did offer a few examples of its new “OneRate” plan, and did let slip that it will offer a $1/day 10MB cap casual data plan - the same casual rate as Vodafone.
Dr Reynolds said this morning that there were 483 850MHz 3G devices (that is, designed for Telecom’s band) and about 115 for Vodafone’s 900MHz.
However, lacking the iPhone, or Vodafone’s broader range of BlackBerries (many of which are still restricted to 2G), the handset line-up lands few blows on Telecom’s rival.
XT’s hero phone, the Sony W995 ($999, above), is a Telecom exclusive and world exclusive. Palm also makes a welcome return to a mainstream carrier, with the Palm Treo Pro ($999) joining XT's line-up.
But many other of the A-list devices in the XT line-up, such as the BlackBerry Bold ($1199), the Nokia E-75 ($999) and the fourthcoming $899 Samsung S8300 (which will boast an 8mP camera), will be shared with Vodafone. In the E-75’s case, Telecom will get a slight jump on Vodafone, getting the handset from XT’s launch on May 29. Vodafone will offer it from “late June”.
The E-75 (right), like many 3G phones, will come in both 850MHz (that is, Telecom’s band) and 900MHz (Vodafone) versions. However, each will be physically separate models; completely lookalike, but only supporting either 850MHz or 900MHz under the bonnet. Again like many 3G models, there will be no chance for SIM card hopping.
A Telecom-branded rugged phone was also announced, which looks to be a close clone or OEM version of the Sonim model recently mauled by NBR.
There will also be a custom “Bebo phone”, with a Bebo-specific soft key for accessing the yoof-friendly blogging service and uploading images. Txts to other Bebo members will free.
The cheapest model in the XT line-up is the house-brand Telecom R6, which will retail for $149.
Telecom also announced that its music store will be relaunched for XT at its May 29 launch. Few details were on offer today, but it will feature 2.7 million tracks.