Apple enthusiasts and iPhone hackers alike rejoiced at the news that AT&T will be offering the popular iPhone without a two-year contract starting on March 23rd. In a report from the Associated Press, AT&T revealed that it will start selling iPhones without a two-year contract, but the cost of the unit will skyrocket.
AT&T corporate spokesperson Michael Coe mentioned that AT&T stores will start selling the phones for $599 or $699 depending on the storage capacity. With a two-year contract, the two models currently run $199 or $299. The 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for $599 and the 16GB version will sell for $699. The cell service provider had previously gone on record during the release of the most recent iPhone models that it would sell contract-free phones in the United States in similar fashion to other counties.
The new phones, however, will still be “locked” into the AT&T service and won’t work with any other carrier unless they are modified. AT&T will only activate these contract-free phones on the regular iPhone plans, which include a $30 per month data access fee. Pre-paid services for iPhones will not be available.
Apple, the manufacturer of the iPhone, has been selling the devices in its retail stores and on the company’s website. There has been no comment from Apple as to whether it will sell the contract-free version in either location.
iPhone Software Killer – Android?
With the recent hoopla from the Apple propaganda machine for the new iPhone 3.0 operating systems, many are turning to Google. For those unfamiliar with the subject, Google unveiled Android some time ago and touted it as an easy-to-use open-source phone platform that will be freely available to all handset makers.
At this point, Android is just a piece of software and not a complete operating system package. Google has teamed up with 34 companies under the “Open Handset Alliance” to manufacture phones that will adopt this new operating system. Google is aiming to make Android devices priced in the $200 neighborhood.
So what can Android do that is so special? Some high-end features that Google developers have been creating for these phones include 3G data speeds, accelerated graphics using the OpenGL engine, and a touch screen. These features are in direct competition with the iPhone OS. The best part for phone manufacturers is that this operating system is completely free. This openness of the platform is what sets Android apart from the iPhone. Given these impressive features and the ease of integration for many phone manufacturers, one has to wonder about consumer adoption rates in the next few years as Apple keeps the iPhone in the United States exclusive to AT&T.
With the announcement of the 3.0 operating system for the iPhone, Apple is addressing some of the immediate shortcomings of its own product in order to match up with Google’s Android. With the recent iPhone releases being $100 and even less expensive units rumored to be on their way around July, the cost of the iPhone with a contract commitment is cheaper than its first generation models.
Still, it seems that Google has several roadblocks in the way before Android becomes a serious player in the mobile market. The biggest obstacle came when both AT&T and Verizon (accounting for over 50% of the United States market share combined) passed on phones with Android. The second major roadblock is that Google has yet to set a definitive release of the OS, baffling software developers to the point of project postponements and cancellations.
Time will tell whether a battle is actually brewing between tech giants Google and Apple. For now, Apple’s well-timed release of 3G phones and the new 3.0 operating system continue to make the iPhone America’s most popular cell phone.