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Tesco Triggers Nokia N8 Price War

Tesco has triggered a price war for Nokia’s long-anticipated answer to the Apple iPhone, the N8, by undercutting the Finnish vendor’s official online price

On  by Tom Jowitt 3

Last week Nokia confirmed rumours that its forthcoming flagship smartphone, the N8, will arrive at the end of this month. But now it has been revealed that UK supermarket Tesco will significantly undercut Nokia’s online pricing for the desirable handset.

Nokia has already announced that its online shop will sell the N8 for £429 SIM-free. Indeed, it is taking pre-orders for the phone which will arrive in the last week of September.

Meanwhile, the N8 handset will also be available from UK operators (O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Three Mobile and Virgin Mobile), as well as high street retailers (the Carphone Warehouse, Phones4u and Tesco Phone Shops) from 1st October.

O2 and Vodafone for example are offering the handset to users free of charge, if they sign up to a two-year contract, for a £35 a month for 600 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited Internet. T-Mobile is offering a similar £25 per month deal that gives users 900 minutes.

Every Little Helps

But for those users not wishing to be tied into a two year contract, there is a cheaper option from Tesco.

While the SIM-free option direct from the Nokia store will cost £429, the same phone from Tesco Direct will be priced at £329, a clear £100 cheaper than buying it direct from Nokia.

That said, the Tesco Nokia N8 will be locked to the Tesco Mobile Network (piggybacked on O2′s network).

It remains to be seen whether Tesco’s move will trigger a full scale price war for the handset.

Tesco Mobile was contacted for comment but did not respond to eWEEK Europe UK at the time of writing.

N8 Specs

The Nokia N8 will include a 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash. It also records HD quality videos, with its own editing suite and plays them back with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, either on its screen or through an HDMI-out socket. It will have new Ovi apps and social networking – with a single app covering Facebook and Twitter.

It is also the first Nokia phone to use the Symbian^3 operating system – an open source OS backed by Nokia – although its future use of the OS seems to fraught with questions after Nokia said it would drop Symbian from its N range handsets in favour of the MeeGo mobile OS.

Mobile & Wireless News

Apple Netbook Plans “Impossible to Predict”

The product may closely resemble the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch, only larger and with VOIP capability.

Tech Superpowers founder and Apple expert Michael Oh says if Apple is going to compete against HP, Samsung, Asus and others in the netbook space, it’ll do it in a way that redefines the market and doesn’t undermine the MacBook Air.

A Reuters article published on March 11 quotes an unnamed source close to Taiwanese touch-screen specialist Wintek, who said Apple is placing orders for 10-inch touch-screens to be delivered in the third quarter of this year.

Wintek currently provides the screens for Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone. On 9 March, speculation about a possible Apple netbook spread across the Internet after a Taiwan-based newspaper reported that two Taiwanese companies had been selected to contribute to the device. Apple officials declined to comment.

Michael Oh, president of Boston-based Apple reseller Tech Superpowers, says all the rumors and speculation need to be absorbed carefully and with more than a little wariness. “My guess is that it’s hard to say how accurate these supplier stories are,” he says. “Looking at it from the Apple ecosystem, it doesn’t make sense to me to release this product right now.”

Oh, who also wrote a blog post positing his thoughts on the rumors, says despite the opportunities available to a company releasing a low-cost PC during an economic downturn, Apple has never released a product so reactive to economic and market conditions. “In my opinion, it feels a little too rushed, a little too early,” he says. “Maybe they’ve fast-tracked some prototype product, but they’re not the kind of company that rushes a product to market in order to fill a hole in the market.”

Oh added that the one time Apple employed that strategy with Cingular Wireless (now AT&T, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier) and the ROKR iTunes phone in 2005, the product was an “abysmal failure.” Not to mention a highly portable, feature-full netbook would undercut the marketing strategy for Apple’s razor-thin Air.

“If Apple released a netbook now, they would completely undermine the MacBook Air,” he says. “If they’d come out with a netbook at $500, it would destroy the MacBook Air, and I can’t see them destroying a product line like that.”

Oh said a netbook-type product is unlikely because Apple is very calculated not only about the design and product, but the ecosystem around a particular product. When and if Apple does unveil a netbook-like device, it will be done in order to redefine the customer perception of what a $500 (£363) portable device can do. “In order for them to enter into the market, they have to feel like they have something really innovative to present to consumers,” he says.

A device twice the size of the iPhone, with a 7-inch touch-screen, a mobile version of iWork and Bluetooth connectivity is what Oh says he can see coming to market. Another big component will be VOIP capability. “One of the things you’ve been seeing with the iPhone is that they’ve been pushing VOIP apps off to the side,” Oh says. “I think that if Apple comes in with a mobile device and it comes with VOIP because it’s not locked in with an AT&T contract, suddenly they’ve opened up a new application that might be an opportunity for them to create real value-add for their device.”

Regardless, Oh says rumors remain rumors and cautions that trying to predict where Apple is going to go next is never easy. “There is always a risk if they come in with the wrong product with the wrong features—but it’s been a long time since they’ve done it, and the netbook is a prime opportunity to run that risk,” he admits. “But the one thing in all these years I’ve learned is, trying to guess what Apple is going to create in their ecosystem is impossible.”

Mobile & Wireless News

US Demand Delays UK iPad Launch

Apple has sold so many iPads in the US, there aren’t any left for us

Apple has delayed the UK launch of the iPad by one month, because of high demand for the tablet device in the US.

The international launch of the iPad has been delayed by one month, because stocks are low after Apple sold 450,000 tablets in the first few days after its US launch – a figure that went up to half a million during the first week of sales.

UK users can buy online

Rumours that the iPad would be launched in the UK on 24 April can now be put to one side, although UK uses do have the option of buying tablets from online shops – which have been imported from the US at a premium – or entering eWEEK Europe’s prize draw for a chance to win one of the coveted devices free.

“Demand will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad,” said an Apple spokesman in a statement. “Faced with this surprisingly strong US demand, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month.”

Apple will announce international pricing and start taking pre-orders on May 10, with the device expected to show up in the UK online Apple store by the end of April.

Since the US launch, some users have reported problems connecting to Wi-Fi, and other nay-sayers have warned that the size and shape of the device will lead to accidents, but thus far, these considerations have shown no sign of denting initial enthusiasm for the iPad.

The iPad has turned out to be surprisingly costly for Apple to make – a “teardown” has revealed that Apple is paying around £171 for the basic components in each iPad which is considerably more than had been expected.

Apple is also reported to be working on a smaller version of the iPad, which would replace the iPod Touch.