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iPhone more expensive in Italy, new signs and some faint hope

Perplexity and concern. Here is the effect that the news published yesterday morning by Macity had on an alleged increase in prices for the new iPhone 3G S. A testimony to the fact that the prospect of a leap forward in the cost of the iPhone would be poorly digested by Italian customers in the series of e-mails received from our site in which the opposition of our readers to the operation deemed unusual and also rather unpopular is manifested, even with very strong tones.

Over the past few years, Apple has always tried to release a new product with higher specifications while keeping the cost unchanged compared to the previous model, especially when (as in the case of the iPhone) it is actually facing an evolution. On the other hand, increasing the cost of the unsubsidized model would run the risk of depressing the replacement market for the old models which could, instead, come on with a price if not lowered, at least stable compared to the old iPhone 3G.

In the face of all this, even if our editorial staff is not yet completely sure that the increase in cost will be there and is investigating to understand what the situation really is, all signs seem to point in that direction. Not only our reliable source, but in the only country where the clear situation, the United Kingdom, the increase in prices is a reality.

The iPhone 3G S in the Pay & Go version, rather similar to the Italian "rechargeable" therefore without a contract, increased in price. Previously, the 16 GB model, the only one comparable directly with the current version, cost 399 pounds (about 463 euros at the exchange rate), today it costs 440.40 (511 euros). The 32 GB model (which someone hopes to see appear in Italy at the price of the old 16 GB) now costs in the United Kingdom 538.30 pounds against the previous 399, or 568 euros against 463 euros. Note that the old iPhone 3G remains on sale for more or less the same price: 342.50 pounds against the previous 349.

The cost differential for the British market is not entirely in line with the situation that, again according to Macity sources, is expected in Italy. As we know, the 16 GB iPhone should cost 599 euros (against the previous 569, about + 5%), while the 32 GB iPhone should cost 699 euros (+ 22% compared to the previous 16 GB model), but despite this it is possible to glimpse a certain assonance.

The reasons that could induce Apple, Tim and Vodafone to make the price increase operation can be manifold, but we believe that two are the main ones

One of these is the permanence in the price list, also in Italy, of the iPhone 3G and not only in the 8 GB version as in the USA and the United Kingdom, but also in the 16 GB version. Proof? Tim's site that continues to advertise alongside the new iPhone 3G S also the old iPhone 3G giving details and links of both the 8 GB model and the 16 GB model with the same prices that were valid previously (with the possibility of ordering some models). The same thing happens on the Vodafone website. Even if it could be a simple operation to "clean up" the warehouses, the fact that there is the old model on the market at the old cost, in fact it would force the operators to raise the price of the new model. Sure, Apple could apply a discount on old versions, but to date with the 3G model that has never happened and the operators, who signed the contract with Apple, have guaranteed the purchase of hundreds of thousands of pieces, they will hardly operate on their own a cut losing a lot of money.

A second reason for the higher cost for the new models could be in an operation aimed at pushing the two-year contracts. In practice, operators may have decided to favor customers who purchase iPhones tied to a data and voice plan; lower prices for this category of customers and higher prices for those who want the "free" iPhone. In reality this has not happened in the United Kingdom where the costs of the contracts have remained practically the same.

A third hypothesis, which could also be the simplest: Apple has raised the prices for the new models compared to the old versions, namely that the 16GB 3G S model costs more than the 16GB 3G model of the 8 GB 3G model has not fallen by cost, this at least in the sale to the operator, so that operators are just as simply preparing to pass this cost increase on to end customers.

The thesis that it was Apple who carried out a touch-up operation to raise prices stems from some declarations issued by the leaders of O2 to some British media according to which it was precisely Cupertino who chose this cost policy.

If we want to convey any hope that things will not go as it seems they have started, you can find it in other items, also from sources that may have had access to the Telecom Italia and Vodafone price lists, collected from our site according to which in Italy the iPhone prices will not change (499 for the 16 GB model and 569 for the 32 GB model), a cut in the price of the unlocked 8 Gb iPhone from Hong Kong (dropped from 5400 HK $ to 4288HK $) and the fact that an increase in the cost of Apple products in the United Kingdom over the past few months has not always been followed by price increases in the rest of the world. For example, the white MacBook increased in price in the UK but not in the EU market.

Readers can discuss the topic on this Macitynet Forum page.