25,000 Saudi iPhone subscribers within hours of launch

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Saudi mobile operator Mobily notched up 25,000 subscribers within hours of its launch of Apple’s iPhone 3G in the kingdom.

“In just a few hours of launch the number of walk-in customers and those who applied online reached 25,000,” said Ali S Al-Dakhee, Mobily’s youth segment manager in comments published by Saudi Gazette on Monday.

Now available at 500 sales outlets of Mobily and affiliates around the kingdom, as well as in the UAE through Etisalat, the iPhone 3G combines a phone, widescreen iPod and internet device.

The phone comes packaged with pre and post-paid Mobily subscription plans.

An 8GB post-paid subscription is priced at SR2,255 ($601), 16GB at SR2,650, with a monthly fee of SR99. The pre-paid prices are SR2,400 for 8 GB and SR2,800 for 16GB.

However, the device does not allow users to send or read text messages in Arabic and the web browser does not render Arabic text properly.

These would be rectified and introduced within three months, said a spokesperson of Mobily, the Saudi affiliate of Etisalat.

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Posted by: gamby

25,000 subscribers! 20,000 will sell their iphone in the first few months due to faulty mechanism, not user friendly, slow internet, lack of some basic features. iphone is just a hype! I'm a mac user, so what they put in iphone are the useless widgets in mac os. plus it's so expensive! boycott buying so that price will drop!

Posted by: Omar

I find it hard to believe that we still are paying such ridiculous prices for such a basic device. I mean you can still buy an official unlocked iPhone from most stores in Saudi (usually they're unlocked European phones) for about the same price you'll end up dropping if you buy it from Mobily and pay the 12-months monthly fees! At least you wont be stuck with Mobily and you'll have the freedom of choice to choose what carrier you want. Also, they should make it much cheaper as the iPhone in the U.S. is only $199!!! This is absolutely absurd and with such high prices, I expect to get at least a few GIGS (if not even unlimited!!) of mobile web data rather than the mediocre 199 MBs!! (not even 200 and you're paying a monthly fee Vs. the 250 for the prepaid users!) Keep in mind that this device will have lots of issues with the lack of Arabic functionality, the bluetooth is only good for headset use only, no full SMS functionality (no forwards, no MMS, no delivery reports), the browser doesn't support Flash video, the so called "2 megapixle" camera is horrible, no auto (or even manual) focus , no zoom, no flash, no video! You can't send any pix or files from your phone to another device only by e-mail. No RSS support, you can't download content from the web browser, it lacks video-calling (no frontal camera), you can't have your own custom made ringtones (only the ones you buy from iTunes!!), you can't use it as a modem for your computer, you can only browse through the actual device itself. I mean these are all basic functions that you can get from any other brand name phone! I can go on forever, but I really think it's sad that we're paying nearly a $1000 for such a pretty device, but a junk phone. I'm just going to stick to my iPod touch for now until they figure something out!

Posted by: Marketeer

This is more like a KFC Franchisee saying I want to sell the dinner meal for $20 in Fujairah! Apple seemed to be quite focused when they'd first launched the iPhone in the U.S- the product and all the services provided by AT&T were priced to hit a certain market segment- much wider than what the service providers are targeting in KSA and UAE with those prices. Even the least disciplined retailers in FMCG, F&B and fashion do not dare raise their pricing for the GCC beyond 15% compared to the rest of the world. And I repeat- this is by no means the fault of Mobily or Etisalat, we cannot expect them to understand the brand positioning nor Apple's vision for this product; let alone to prioritise that over their margins. It is always the responsibility of the 'Principal', Apple in this case, to make sure that happens. Where are they? And why are they not commenting on all this? Seems they will, once again, fall in the trap of leaving the wonderful Apple product in the irresponsible hands of the distributors to position Apple as niche. The same tragedy happened with the Mac and the Mac-Book.

Posted by: PP

It is about time the retailers and providers woke up - the penetration rates for the iphone will suffer enormously unless prices fall dramatically...... Early adopters have already bought their iphones thru the grey market. Others want one but, at these pricing levels, are not prepared to be ripped off.......... again!! Other retailers in Dubai also need to get real............. high end Ecco golf shoes have increased 30% in the last 3 months (at a time when products sourced from Europe should be cheaper due to exchange rate fluctuations). Mont Blanc watches AED3000 cheaper in Oxford Street, London Ping golf clubs at a 40% premium in UAE compared to US/Europe. The hotels also need to have a good look at their F&B pricing. Two different lots of tourists I have met in the past week have both commented about how expensive Dubai is......... It is no good dropping room rates whilst leaving F&B prices at historical highs........ Times are hard & employees worried about tomorrow. Employers are digging deep with staff retrenchments. I for one won't be crying when the hotels/retailers start bleating in a few months time (as summer approaches) and wondering where all their customers have gone. In this wired world, we all have friends and family living outside the country - information is all to easy to share.

Posted by: Sukhi

This is really not fair, i had been waiting for months to purchase the iphone from Etisalat, and now they have ruined my budget plans. I don't understand the reason for the price difference between UAE and KSA. Who needs these bundle offers in the monthly rentals. Its just increase the pricing for foolish reasons. Just take out the offers of free talk time and free sms and bring down the monthly rental costs from 199 to 99 AED, now that sounds more feasible, to my pocket and all other enthusiasts in the country as well. Lets wait and watch if these comments are gonna affect the marketing team of Etisalat. Fingers crossed!!

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