The iPhone has landed

Apple have finally done a deal with operator Etisalat, to bring its iPhone to the UAE and Saudi - but the big question is - does anyone care any more?

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The iPhone has landed (Getty Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 3, 2009

Apple have finally done a deal with operator Etisalat, to bring its iPhone to the UAE and Saudi - but the big question is - does anyone care any more?

OK, that's probably a bit unfair, but there's a definite feeling that those who really, really want the phone have already got one, and for anyone else, its just another option from a whole range of smartphone handsets that have caught up to Apple's offering since its launch last year.

Apple might pick up a few more unit sales overall, through the lure of owning an official, supported handset, but in general Apple products are reliable, so warranty support won't be as important as technical support and other value-add elements.

Probably the real big questions are how much is Etisalat going to charge, and as looks likely, what Etisalat will deliver with the bundled contract that iPhone will be sold under?

On the cost question, Apple made a big show of cutting the price of iPhone from the first generation to the second, in part to cater to emerging markets. Although the cost of a handset doesn't seem to be much a problem for many in the Gulf, it will be interesting to see whether Apple has been able to get Etisalat inline with its expectations of making the iPhone 3G more affordable.

The contract, and whether it offers value and the full iPhone experience will be even more important. Many of the people I have spoken to who have got iPhones from other markets, are happy with the handset, but felt that they didn't get full value without services, application downloads, interaction and so on. Without the services and software, the iPhone is just a nice looking handset with a reasonable camera and some nice UI features.

Etisalat and Apple will have to provide more support to help users set up services,  they will have to provide a good performance level in terms of delivery of mobile data, and in terms of the cost of deliver, and they also need to look at what exactly Apple is able to offer in terms of official downloads and services - so far there's an App store for the UAE, but no iTunes, something that already causes a fair amount of complaining.

If Etisalat can deliver all these services, and not overcharge, or introduce restrictive terms to the contract,  I'd be pretty impressed, (not to mention surprised). I might even buy one.

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