Apple's 8GB iPhone will finally become available in the UK on 9 November for £269, the company announced at a special event in London this morning.
Apple has opted against including 3G support with the UK iPhone, with Jobs saying the high-speed wireless technology would dramatically reduce battery life. Apple is already working on the next-generation iPhone, though, and Jobs said 3G could be included in about a year, at which time iPhone battery life would be in the six- to eight-hour range.
Jobs also confirmed 02 as Apple's official UK partner for the handset. "We are coming to the UK and wanted to pick the best carrier and that is O2," said Jobs. "We wanted to know a few partners and find the one most compatible with us, so we dated lots of other carriers, but decided to marry O2, there's a few upset girlfriends out there."
Apple isn't discussing the revenue split between itself and O2, following yesterday's reports of its aggressive demands. Various reports suggested Apple is demanding 40 percent of UK iPhone revenues.
In a similar deal to that offered to US consumers, the iPhone won't be available under any subsidy. O2 is to offer various tariffs, including plans costing £35, £45 and £55 per month. All three packages offer free data traffic. Users pay for the device, their calls and messages and they'll also get free access to a UK network of 7,500 WiFi HotSpots via The Cloud. Jobs said that as just 30 per cent of the UK will be enabled for EDGE on the O2 network when the iPhone launches, wireless hotspots will provide an essentail way to stay connected while on the move. "WiFi offers better connectivity," he said.
However, at £269, the iPhone will face stiffer competition in the UK than it does in the US. That's because prices for other smartphones are typically lower in Europe, where many operators subsidise the cost of new phones in order to attract customers. For instance, O2 customers signing a £30-a-month contract for 18 months or more can get Nokia's top-of-the-range N95 smartphone with Wi-Fi, camera, music player and GPS for free.
The iPhone also faces competition from Apple's own iPod touch, which offers many of the same functions as the iPhone - with the obvious exception of telephony. In the UK, the 8GB iPod touch costs £199, while the 16GB model costs £269. However, Jobs claimed the iPod could actually encourage users to make the switch to its mobile phone in the long run. He described the iPod touch as a "training wheel" which would help users get used to the innovative touchscreen interface before convincing them to upgrade to the iPhone at a later date.
O2 claims 80 percent of its "high-value" subscribers in the UK are keen to get their hands on an iPhone, while its research suggests 40 percent of subscribers to other networks are willing to switch to O2 as a result of the iPhone deal.
More to follow.
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Jonny Evans, Rosemary Haworth and Jonny Evans also contributed to this report.