Rivals develop iPhone 'killers' as Apple plans UK launch of must-have device
IT HAS not yet been released in the UK but jealous rivals are already ganging up in a determined - and almost certainly forlorn - attempt to kill it off.
Apple's iPhone, with its seductive mix of drop-dead gorgeous looks and irresistible features, is expected to become the must-have gift this Christmas for well-heeled lovers of fashionable gadgetry.
But Apple's competitors are not standing still. Rivals are frantically working on iPhone 'killers' that will attempt to offer unbeatable combinations of style, features and price.
Ultimately, the launch of the iPhone and the subsequent battle for control of the mobile market promises to be good news for consumers.
The iPhone will be released in the UK on November 9, for 269, plus a 35 a month contract for 18 months, exclusively on the O2 network.
When the phone was released in the US earlier this year, sales took off to the extent the device was dubbed the 'Jesus Phone'. So far, a million have been sold. Some UK gadget seekers have decided they cannot wait and one impatient buyer last week paid 600 to buy an iPhone on eBay.
But South Korean firm LG is among those planning to launch iPhone 'killers'. Next month, its 300 Viewty goes on sale in the UK, offering similar 'candy bar' styling, including a large, colour touch screen. The Viewty is 20 grams lighter than its rival and the size of a playing card. LG have already established a reputation in the style stakes with their Chocolate and Prada range of phones.
If looks could kill the iPhone, so too could features. Rival network T-Mobile is planning to offer internet access speeds for mobiles which will be faster than many home broadband connections. Crucially, they will be able to offer high-quality TV and video straight to the mobile phone, rather than the grainy and jerky pictures which until now have put most users off mobile phone video. These services will work with LG, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, and Nokia mobiles but not with the iPhone.
Price could prove the Achilles heel of the iPhone for some. While owning an iPhone will cost 900 over 18 months because of the price of the gadget and contract, many rivals could be cheaper.
A Prada phone from T-Mobile will cost about 400 over the same period.
Industry experts north of the Border were split over whether the iPhone killers would make any impact.
Brian Baglow, chief executive of technology and communications at marketing firm Indoctrimat, said: "I just don't see the point of the iPhone here in the UK and I think the other phones are really impressive.
"The iPhone is very nicely packaged and stylish but there is nothing new or impressive in the technology. There are already a lot of phones available here which do everything the iPhone does and they can do it better."
However, Lachlan MacKinnon, professor of computing and creative technologies at the University of Abertay, said: "I think it will be a success. I have looked over one in the United States and it is very stylish and easy to use, big buttons for texting, for example. There's nothing especially new in the technology, but Apple excel in making things stylish and intuitive to use."
Bill Buchanan, professor of distributed computing at Napier University, said: "I think it will take off because of its ability to link up with wireless internet networks and make cheap phone calls over the internet. That will become a major selling point."
A spokeswoman for T-Mobile said: "It would have been great to have got the iPhone, but the terms on offer were not right for us. What we do plan to offer are much faster internet surfing speeds from mobile phones."
A spokeswoman for O2 said that the question of iPhone killers was a matter for Apple. She added: "We're pleased to have the iPhone, but it's just one of a range of products."
An Apple spokesman said: "We don't comment on others' products."
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