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UK iPhone pricing

June 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I had hoped O2 would be replacing the 8/16Gb iPhone 3G with the new 16/32Gb 3GS, but the AT&T pricing of $199/$299 made that look unlikely. O2 now have an iPhone 3GS pricing page and they’re not coming cheap.

iPhone_3GS_Uk_pricing

The last generation iPhone 3G stays at £96.89/free, but the new 16Gb 3GS rises to £184.98 on cheap/shorter contracts, compared to £155.61 for the replaced 16Gb 3G. The 32Gb 3GS comes in at a wallet busting £274.23, or £175.19 if you are willing to sign up for a 24 month contract. That’s a TCO of £890.91 for a 16Gb model on the £35 tariff for 18 months, or £926.91 for 32Gb. The new 3GS is also available on pay as you go:

  • iPhone 3G 8GB – £342.50
  • iPhone 3G S 16GB – £440.40
  • iPhone 3G S 32GB – £538.30

That’s an eye watering price for the 3GS, but since it includes 12 months of unlimited data it works out cheaper for anyone with light call and text usage.

The real issue here is the use of 18 and 24 month contracts, especially when Apple seem dedicated to a 12 month release cycle for its iPhone hardware. Macworld has some details for users looking to terminate their contracts to get the new model, and the bad news is that it looks like O2 will want the remainder of the contract paid in full. That means an iPhone 3G owner 12 months into their contract would have to pay £205.56 plus cost of new 3GS model, with the prospect of doing the same in 12 months when the next version is released.

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Categories: apple, iPhone, uk Tags: , , , , , , ,

The moral crossroads

December 2, 2008 Leave a comment

There are two kinds of government. One kind cares about it’s people, and the other treats them as cattle, little more than a resource. I know there are lots of terms for different systems of running everything from a community to a continent, but they all either care or they don’t.

Things have been changing in the UK for a while now, and I’m talking here about the mostly overlooked battle that’s being fought between content providers and anyone with a shred of care for the public. It surfaces occasionally with a sensationalist headline in the media, but the majority of UK citizens don’t realise what the Media corporations are up to. America already has the RIAA pursuing college file sharers and others for ridiculous sums of money using suspect evidence, and just like in many other ways the UK is becoming increasingly like the USA.

I remember having Disco’s and a Headmaster at my senior school, but it now has Prom’s and a Principal. Small changes I would happily live with if we didn’t have to suffer the same shift of power towards big business and the criminalisation of its customers. An article at Ars Technica got my attention and really brings together what’s happening at the moment. It’s a complicated issue that I won’t repeat here, but none of it benefits anyone but the Music corporations and shareholders. Will the artists who create the product see a big improvement in royalties and treatment? By the time the executives and lawyers take their share I doubt there will be much left for those that generate the money.

As the Ars article points out, there are opponents of the Media interests, such as the Open Rights Group. It’s reasuring that someone is fighting for the rights of the public, even if it isn’t our Government. And the question is, why not? Why are ISP’s, Media companies and civil rights groups being left to fight it out? I could almost think ministers don’t want to get involved in an argument that will eventually anger big money or the general public. Or maybe it’s because they don’t really understand this ‘internet’ thing and don’t realise that current teenagers grew up with file sharing an accepted part of social networking.

The thing is, it’s not just the British government that don’t seem to understand the internet. Media companies still try to restrict us with DRM crippled products that are limited to compatible devices and frequently in working life. Some are embracing DRM free media as the way forward, while others desperately cling to the old business models that worked so well before the world got connected. There are new ways of selling content being dreamed up all the time, and some are promising. I’ve written about the subscription model before, where we would all pay a set fee each month and download (and keep) whatever we want from authorised servers of high quality media. Ars mentions the survey where the University of Hertfordshire asked P2P users if they would pay for a legal file sharing service, and 80% said yes. That’s a huge amount of extra legal money for the artists.

The question here isn’t would it work, it’s why isn’t it being worked on now. The UK has the BBC, a corporation that takes our license fee for what now amounts to a much smaller proportion of the total available content. I’m not disputing the quality of content, but if we have an infrastructure to collect and monitor the paying of this fee to one body, why can’t we have one that monitors all content and dishes out the money as appropriate? Would it have anything to do with a loss of power for the few big Media Corporations?

This all comes back to my opening statement that Governments either care or they don’t. They should care enough to stop us becoming a resource for the Big Money’s legal departments. They should care enough to stop our children’s mistakes and habits become obscene legal bills. And they should care enough about the artists to give them a fair deal.

America has a new President Elect who promises a fairer, people centric future. Maybe we could have one of those in the UK.

And a final though. The Federation Against Software Theft is calling for ten years imprisonment if convicted of online commercial piracy. A longer prison sentence for software piracy than rape and murder? Aren’t the priorities getting mixed up here?

The UK cinema experience

July 26, 2008 1 comment

Much is said about how much money Film Studios are losing to piracy. You can’t see a film at the cinema now without the piracy warnings. Do the studios ever stop to wonder if that’s the real reason their profits are not where they thinks they should be?

A recent article on Torrentfreak got me thinking about what’s really going on at the cinema. The story concerns a study by the US Pirate Party, a group that claims the real reason for the rise and fall in annual profits is the quality of the films released, not piracy. If so, the ‘piracy’ claims are just hot air from greedy studios that want more money for releasing crap. It’s the old argument, people will pay a fair price for a quality product. The most amazing thing is that these piracy claims and measures are increasing at a time when US cinema takings have hit a record high.

I think there’s a more basic reason for the often claimed drop in cinema attendance. It’s crap. Read more…

First stage of the UK filesharing clampdown

July 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Following the recent news that Virgin Media had sent 800 of its customers warning letters concerning their illegal sharing of music, the BPI has announced today a deal with the six largest UK ISP’s. BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse have agreed to send warning letters to customers that the BPI identifies as illegally sharing or downloading music. The warning is as far as any of the companies involved are prepared to go at the moment. General opinion on tech news sites is that this is fine if it’s the only action to be taken, but most believe it’s only the first step.

The stated aim of the agreement is to significantly reduce the amount of illegal file sharing taking place in the UK. I suspect a lot of parents will be shocked to receive their letters and have to look at what their children are using the net connection for. I’ve already been asked by several concerned and computer inexperienced parents what this means and what they can do.

The next step will depend on the resultant reduction in file sharing and how far the record companies want to go to recover their ‘estimated’ losses. Some ridiculous figures have been mentioned today on the UK’s news services, but the thing to remember is that no-one really knows how much money is lost to illegal file sharing, and there have been plenty of studies that claim illegal file sharers buy more music. I suspect that an immediate stop to music piracy wouldn’t result in the predicted massive jump in profits. The saddest thing is that none of these companies appear to be actively looking for new ways of making people want to buy music, other than the usual threat of legal force. Are record companies that persue file sharers for losses really recovering lost profit, or making money they otherwise would not have seen?

UK Police accused of Copyright infringement

June 13, 2008 Leave a comment

While the obscene behaviour of the US copyright enforcement agencies hasn’t yet reached the UK, it appears one group who really should know better have been caught. The Lancashire Police force has been accused of copyright infringement by the Performing Rights Society. It appears the bobbies have been playing music in their police stations and to telephone callers on hold, without the necessary licenses.

Perhaps the most shocking part is that Lancashire police are one of eleven county forces that have refused to pay licensing fees to the PRS. Does this mean British police are refusing to obey the law?

Categories: humour, media, uk Tags: , , , , ,

March of the copyright police

March 31, 2008 Leave a comment

Virgin MediaThe Register and Ars Technica have news today that Virgin Media are in talks with the British Phonographic Industry to implement a three strikes system to remove copyright infringing file sharers from Virgin Broadband. From The Register,

‘BPI enforcement agents will detect IP numbers participating in copyright-infringing peer to peer networks. They will alert the ISP, which will voluntarily send out warnings to stop or face disconnection from the net.’

So who do you challenge if (when?) the BPI get it wrong? And the bigger question is how far will this go? Music and Movies will be targeted, but what about computer software? Pirated software will no doubt meet the same response, but what about a kalyway or iatkos install image when you own a genuine install disk. Or EFI emulation software used to install Leopard on a non-Apple computer in breach of the EULA. While we would all hope for a fair and reasonable system, how much sympathy will the system have for the computer naive parent who’s children have broken the rules?

At a time when TV networks are making their content available for free from their web sites, will a warning letter be the result after downloading the latest episodes from a bittorrent site?

And perhaps the biggest question, who is paying for this.

Categories: media, uk Tags: , , ,

Virgin Media: How to really annoy your customers

March 15, 2008 6 comments

I struggled to decide what title to use for this article, since it covers several aspects of a company that doesn’t seem to know its arse from its elbow. The important bit first is some advice for any existing customer of Virgin media, especially those with the £37 a month ‘Broadband XL’ package and a Virgin Media phone line.

Have a look at this page, then call Virgin Media’s customer services on 150 from your Virgin Media phone line, or 0845 454 1111 from any other phone line. Select option 2 to change your package, and tell the customer services person you want the same deal as new customers. They will say they can’t offer you that deal as it’s only for new customers (I was offered a package for £55), so tell them you want to cancel all your Virgin Media services. You will be transferred to the ‘retentions’ department, who should agree to move you to the new prices if you take a new 12 month contract. Read more…