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Telecom’s Gen-i division is to start selling iPhones to corporate customers on Monday.
Stay in your chairs, Vodafone execs - you haven’t lost your current position as Apple’s sole official carrier.
Rather, Gen-i says it will buy an iPhones from Apple's NZ online store on a Telecom customer's behalf. That is to say, Gen-i will buy them at retail, just like any civilian.
Gen-i will then configure an iPhone with an XT sim card to work on Telecom’s network.
After that, Gen-i customers are on their own, with “no formal guarantees”, spokeswoman Carmela Sailsbury told NBR.
"We do not support the device, guarantee it or provide replacement services directly. The process has been put in place to ensure we are delivering the best client experience we can without a formal carrier agreement between Telecom and Apple," said Ms Sailsbury.
Ms Sailsbury said the offer would be made to business clients “If no Telecom device suits their requirements”.
Nail in the coffin
Vodafone had no formal comment on the deal, though one insider offered: "It's all very ... odd. Have they given up on getting a real deal with Apple? Because that would be a nail in the coffin I would think."
Quite the fashion
At Telecom’s most recent results briefing, analysts quizzed chief executive Paul Reynolds about director of mobile Paul Hamburger’s ongoing failure to secure Apple’s handset for XT - despite the fact that Vodafone NZ has repeatedly told NBR its Apple deal is non-exclusive.
Dr Reynolds said that Telecom was happy with its current handset line-up.
Not 100% happy was Telecom Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe, who was spotted palming an iPhone.
Gen-i chief executive Chris Quin has also been spied totting an iPhone, along with head of Telecom Wholesale Matt Crockett (and, incidentally, 2degrees chief executive Eric Hertz).
Now, customers get to share.
This is Telecom's second stab at creating iPhone on XT buzz without securing official carrier status.
In July last year, it briefly offered a $600 bounty for those who brought their iPhone to XT - the sum designed to offset Vodafone's handset subsidy for contract customers.
Better on XT ... and better on Vodafone 3G
The iPhone supports the 2100MHz 3G frequency that both Vodafone and Telecom use in urban areas, and the 850MHz 3G frequency that Telecom uses nationwide. Outside urban areas, iPhone customers on Vodafone step down to 2G.
However, Vodafone has an advantage in tethering (connecting an iPhone to a laptop to use it as a modem).
An Apple iPhone OS software upgrade blocked handsets from tethering unless they were on an official carrier.
There are tethering "jailbreak" workarounds for tech savvy users comfortable with hacking their iPhone - but presumably Gen-i will not want to rile Apple by going down this semi-legal path. Nor will many corporate customers.