iPhone 3GS launch fun
OK kids here’s an example of either a) what not to do, or b) a very clever marketing program by Apple and AT&T.
Step 1: Get your most loyal fans worked up into a lather that a new iPhone might be announced at Apple’s World Wide Development Conference (WWDC)
Step 2: Do a great job of unveiling the new iPhone 3GS at the WWDC (today)
Step 3: Announce that prices of the old model iPhone 3G can be had for as little as $99 along side the new iPhone GS for $199
Step 4: Infuriate your fan base by telling them they have to pay a big upgrade fee to get the new iPhone 3GS if they are still within their contract period (and aren’t eligible for a discounted upgrade)
Step 5: Have your key U.S. launch partner, AT&T, do a poor job of sales readiness (customers are reporting AT&T customer service agents aren’t aware of the new iPhone 3GS). As of this writing the AT&T web site has no information on the new iPhone 3GS (but it is available on the online Apple Store).
Generally, Apple does a great job of product launch. In the case of the iPhone 3GS I don’t have any inside information about their launch process or the nature of their relationship with AT&T, but if I were Steve Jobs I would not be happy.
The iPhone has one of the highest ARPU (average revenue per user) in the mobile phone business. It’ll take a few days for this to settle down and the upgrade confusion to clear up. No doubt there are business decisions behind the pricing and upgrade policies. I expect they’ll sort that out too.
UPDATE: I’m an AT&T customer and tested the upgrade path through Apple’s online store. I was eligible to upgrade and was presented with the new $99, $199 and $299 prices. So it looks like Apple was ready and AT&T wasn’t.
UPDATE: TechCrunch – AT&T Fails iPhone Users Once Again
UPDATE: TechCrunch – Why the iPhone 3GS may be a Sucker’s Bet Right Now
UPDATE: VentureBeat – The 3 things Apple didn’t say today
UPDATE: AP – AT&T relents on iPhone pricing for upgraders
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