Carrier locking thwarts international iPhone 5 buyers

A wannabee first iPhone 5 buyer (hiding inside his tent)
The Apple Store in downtown San Francisco Monday night

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

As an iPhone 5 completist, I've taken the precaution of traveling to Apple's home town of San Francisco* for its instore launch this week (actually, a Salesforce.com conference, but it happens to coincide).

The good news: it will be instore 8am on this Friday. Online pre-orders have already going off their socks - 2 million within the first 48 hours, Apple says (the pre-ordered phones will ship this Friday).

And check out the healthy crowd at this downtown San Francisco Apple store at 8.58pm on a Monday night. I popped along hoping there would be a preview iPhone 5 onhand so I could perve at the hardware, and fret about the Google apps pushed out of iOS 6. There wasn't.

Why the crowd? Many were attracted to the newly discounted iPhone 4S, a clerk told me.

The bad news: Apple's US web store offers no off-contract price, and the clerk said handsets arriving instore Friday would also be locked to AT&T, Sprint and Verizon customers (both locked to those networks, and only available tied to a two-year contract with those carriers). That's no good for the impatient and international bargain hunters (there goes my 10% commission).

The clerk said staff hadn't been told when contract-free models would be sold. But going on past form, he thought it would be a few months.

One fellow had set up a tent, this morning, ready for Friday's onsale date, but he zipped up inside when I got out my camera phone. "He's over doing it," a bored security guard told me.

I suspect Apple-mania will be unstoppable Friday, but this is definitely not a one horse town. San Francisco/Silicon Valley is Google's home turf, too. And just on my highly unscientific observation, at least as many Salesforce.com convention goers are packing big-screen Androids as iPhones.

Lastly, it's hard to find much new in the universal everywhere that is the global village these days. But I was impressed, on my shuttle flight up from LA, that the woman sitting next to me was watching a football game live, courtesy of United Airlines hookup with satellite TV broadcaster DirectTV.

And while there's a handful of inflight-internet options being tried downunder, they're all at heart-attack prices. Here, Delta is offering unlimited wi-fi in a 24 hour period for a very reasonable $US12.

* Yes, I realise Cupertino is an outer outer suburb where San Fran starts to blend into San Jose, but let's not wreck the narrative. It's all one urban sprawl.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about My Tags

Comment & Question

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7883 0.0052 0.66%
AUD 0.9235 0.0087 0.95%
EUR 0.6298 0.0022 0.35%
GBP 0.4990 0.0008 0.16%
HKD 6.1119 0.0389 0.64%
JPY 92.5350 0.2770 0.30%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1197.1 3.900 2014-11-25T00:
Oil Brent 80.1 -0.140 2014-11-25T00:
Oil Nymex 74.1 -1.660 2014-11-25T00:
Silver Index 16.6 0.170 2014-11-25T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5442.7 5465.6 5442.7 0.27%
NASDAQ 4760.2 4774.1 4758.2 0.33%
DAX 9894.6 9942.7 9861.2 0.49%
DJI 17812.2 17831.0 17814.9 -0.01%
FTSE 6731.1 6765.0 6731.1 0.11%
HKSE 23833.2 24176.6 23843.9 1.12%
NI225 17348.0 17432.6 17407.6 -0.14%