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Where did it all go wrong..?

As I wandered around Tesco yesterday, grumbling to myself about the constant lack of availability of my toilet paper of choice (both brand and pack size, a combination that has become important to me) and listening to Dire Straits, I realised that my life may have moved on a bit from my not-as-wild-as-I-like-to-think student days. And to top it all off, I was obsessively refreshing a page from the Guardian website detailing the latest goodies to fall from the gaping maws of Apple’s figureheads during the traditional WWDC keynote speech.

I have become that which I once mocked. I have become an Apple fanboy.

Worry not: I wear a beret no more often than I ever did (occasionally), I’m still banned from every branch, worldwide, of Gap (the ‘incident’ still burns fresh in their pastel clad hearts) and I constantly complain about everything about Apple from business practises to the length of collar on Steve Jobs’s turtle neck sweaters (unseen in public though the Imperious Leader now is). But behind all that there is a worrying feeling of brand loyalty gnawing at my secretly pastel coloured heart.

Evil teasing not-Steve-Jobs kept the baying crowd going for a whole 100 minutes in yesterday’s two hour speech before revealing what we were all waiting for – a new iPhone, the 3g[S]. I assume the [S] is for Sport and there will be some kind of badge involved somewhere, maybe with go faster stripes. However, the thing that seemed to get the biggest whoop from the crowd was the introduction of a built in compass. Maniacal screaming over the announcement of a compass in a phone shows me what I have to look forward to as my fanboy-dom develops. I have a loaded shotgun by my bed ready.

I’ve been holding off on getting an iPhone (for reasons of work paying for my phone and my not really using it to make phone calls due to a) a hatred of phones and b) a general hatred of people [not you, you don’t count as people. You are lovely. I know I still don’t call but that’s because my phone’s out of batteries. Always]) but decided about 6 months ago that I might be forced to jump in to the mobile internet fray after a period of playing with an iPod Touch – aka: the iPhone without the phone bit. Wireless internets did at first seem fairly ubiquitous, popping up on my Touch wherever I did roam, but more and more I am now finding myself reaching for the poor cousin that is my Blackberry <spit> to look up Important Things! on the internet (like the names of Star Trek captains, the history of Mali or whether anyone has responded to my most recent piece of compressed 140 character wit on twitter). Thus the time has come to make a jump into the world of owning my own mobile phone, a situation I have only been in once, 8 long years ago. Things have moved on a bit from the Nokia 3210…

So, after that rambling smear of brain juice here comes the famous “science bit” of this post – some prices. It seems that O2 like to shaft their customers with rather painful looking shafts (which I’ve been told you get used to after the first few times) and are charging what seems to me to be a horrendous amount of money for their debatable services. I would go for a Pay-as-you-go phone (with my not calling anyone ever policy and all) but they don’t enable phone-computer tethering on that package, promptly removing one of the main reasons that I wasn interested in this new iPhone in the first place. Anyways, here are some comparison numbers (spreading all the cost of a contract, including upfrontness, over the life of the contract):

Unsporty iPhone 3G 8GB: PAYG £342.50, 18 month contract on cheapest tariff = PAYG cost + £15.74 per month
iPhone 3GS 16GB: PAYG £440.40, 18 month contract on cheapest tariff = PAYG cost + £15.19 per month
iPhone 3GS 32GB: PAYG £538.30, 18 month contract on cheapest tariff = PAYG cost + £14.71 per month

For the shiny 3GS phones this means (to me, a man who makes no phone calls if he can possibly avoid it) I end up paying the cost of the PAYG phone over 18 months and then also about an extra £15 per month to be able to tether my phone to my laptop and play internets with a proper keyboard. This seems worryingly tempting, so much so that I may have to make a large spreadsheet breaking down the numbers further to try and dissuade myself (or find something cheaper). I love spreadsheets. Maybe too much.

Update: As pointed out by Dr P, it seems that O2 don’t include tethering in the standard contract, charging an extra £15 per month for a 3GB allowance. Further discussion with an iPhone PAYG colleague has also told me that you need to top up £10 of phone calls per month to get the ‘free’ internet each month for your first year. My spreadsheet must be updated…

(Looks like for me a PAYG 16GB 3G Sport will have the lowest ownership cost of the first 18 months and probably the cheapest maintenance cost after that [based on mystical formulae that I have pulled out of my head to justify the shiny])

This week Billy has been reading Charlie Brooker’s Screen Burn while performing his daily ablutions, which has led him to talk in the third person in this little passage (even if it is a conceit stolen from his more recent Guardian columns rather then the opening salvos of Mr Brooker’s journalistic career that the daily visits to the smallest room have so far given the time to read) as well as using occasionally overblown metaphors, similes and potentially inflammatory language in the text above, although not to the same extent that Charlie Brooker does leaving some room for further development of bitterness. He did sit behind Mr Brooker at a thing at the ICA with Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill the other day and would have been able to touch the hem of his jacket in religous worship if it wasn’t for his drunken companion’s pointing at said Brooker with an accompanying ‘Look that’s Charlie Brooker, he’s famous and EVERYTHING he is’. You know who you are, drunken companion.

Comments

Comment from Will
Time 9th June 2009 at 9:51 am

Ah, is tethering something to do with computers then? It’s been puzzling me for the last 24 hours as the Apply fanboys have wittered on about the cost…

Comment from billy
Time 9th June 2009 at 11:57 am

Tethering is allowing your computer to use your phone as a modem of sorts. As normally happens the phone companies are using it as a way of gouging a bit more cash.

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