6 reasons NOT to buy an iPhone: They are expensive, crippled and outdated

With all the hoopla surrounding the Apple Iphone 3G, I took a look at the device which is available in Taiwan through Chunghwa Telephone company. But I was seriously dismayed and opted for my Nokia for a number of good reasons. The Apple iPhone promises so much in terms of customer benefits that I was surprised how poorly it stacked up against my Nokia phone.

1. Functionality: it’s crippled in many functions.

Everyone raves about the iPhone and how it looks. In reality, there are basic functions that any standard 3G phone can do that iPhone cannot. The iPhone in version 2 is still crippled by Apple in significant ways. There is no cut or paste function, no multi-media email function, no video function, it’s unable to multi-task with 3rd party apps in the background, SMS can’t be forwarded, no tethering either so you can surf from your notebook, no FM radio, no in-built flash… to mention the most obvious ones. That the iPhone is crippled is obvious (when many competitors can provide these services and functions), the real question is why.

2. Repairs: Can’t replace your battery yourself.

For most repairs, you have to return your phone to the manufacturer for repair. With Apple, you have to return your phone to them when you want to change the battery. This adds to the expense, you’re without a mobile phone for the time it’s away, and probably your data, too. Doubtless, replacing the battery will be more expensive, too, as Apple are the ONLY authorised reseller of batteries. Can you imagine Nokia, Sony, or Motorola requiring their phones to be returned to change the battery? The repairs alone for replacing the battery will be US$85, and they WILL erase all your data for you for free. Thanks, Apple. (oh, by the way, my Nokia battery is replaced by me WITHOUT any data loss)…

3. Tied one provider: And one only.

With my nokia phone, I’m able to go to any provider and purchase a mobile service. The typical deal with Apple is that there is one service provider who is authorised to sell telephone service in a particular market. But that company may not be the best service provider in your area, or even the most competitive. It’s likely that the competitor will provide less than stellar support as well.

4. Expansion slots: What are they for?

There are no expansion slots for additional memory: in other words, you can’t add a memory card with an extra 8GB or 16GB of memory. At a time, when even the humblest made in China phones come with memory slots for SD cards or minicards, Apple can’t even add one to the machine. But then Apple claim that they are doing it for the convenience of consumers. It’s really convenient NOT to be able to slip in an extra RAM card. Oh, yes. That’s right… you have to send it away to do any repairs. Good luck with that one!

5. Intransparent pricing: It sucks to be a customer.

When I went to the Apple Iphone website in Taiwan, I was greeted by a hugely confusing pricing table that included no less than three different pricing structures each with variations in the pricing. In fact, the iPhone 3G was quoted at over fifteen different price points on the same page. Amazing? Confusing? The irony: only two of those price points were cheaper than my Nokia phone. Oh, and each pricing plan required a different deposit.

It will cost you more, MUCH more than other phones… By my own calculations, it will cost a minimum of 32% to over 70% more on the first plan than my own service + phone package. The basic plans are more affordable, but the initial outlay is quite considerable. You are expected to outlay more than 2/3rd of the cost at purchase point.

6. Apps: Tight control by Apple?

Now Apple supporters will croon: but you can easily add apps from other missing functionality. And it’s true. But why should I have to suffer all of these software limitations when other devices can do all this and more, just as easily, more cheaply, and with less inconvenience for the customer, OUT OF THE BOX! Tell me. But worse, Apple will only permit certain programs on their system and will pull licenses or restrict software in the iPhone App Store that they deem unsuitable for their phone. If this were only for issue of safety and reliability, perhaps it would be less of a concern. But it’s not.

So, in reality, the Apple Iphone will cost you a lot more money than almost any other similarly powered device available today. It is behind the times in technical capability in a number of ways, too. And your tied in so many ways, it’s unbelievable that anybody would consider such a beast. So, save your money, save your hassle, buy a better phone than iPhone3G and tell Apple to do better ‘next time’.

So can anybody explain to me why people are queueing up to buy a black brick with a nice screen and a price that leads to serious sticker shock?

Taiwan banks reluctant to charge ‘account keeping fee’ – The China Post

Most Taiwan banks have no plan to levy a “deposits account keeping fee” from customers who have only a small sum of outstanding deposits in their accounts, although some foreign banks have already taken such a move.Some foreign banks, including Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking), have started charging a monthly fee from clients with less than NT$10,000 of deposits in their accounts.

Taiwan banks reluctant to charge ‘account keeping fee’ – The China Post – this article is typical of the usual double-speak that English newspapers in Taiwan are guilty of. The story is quite simple: with limited sources of income available, banks are now resorting to charging fees on low deposits. Typically this behavior is being seen in foreign-owned banks, who have already had account minimums for quite some time (another fact that ‘escaped’ the author of this story). The real news in this story is hidden away at the end: “The move of collecting the fee needs to be discussed and approved by the bankers association, he said. The talk about the possibility that Taiwan banks may charge a “deposits account keeping fee” from customers has caused concern from legislators.”

In real speak, this means legislators and banking organizations are already considering where and how banks charge regular amounts for bank accounts with less than a minimum amount in them. With interest rates as low as they are, it’s unrealistic to expect banks to shoulder these costs in the long term. However, looking after people’s money like this will attract a lot of criticism: why? Because banks are expected to use this money to make more money, it seems unreasonable that they should then make money on ‘free money’ and charge for the privilege of looking after it.


A customer who’s charged such a fee will likely terminate their business with any bank that attempts to charge them such a fee. Worse, it may make it more difficult to market to these customers in the future when things get better, and everyone has more money. Customers will remember who tried to short-change them and who treated them with respect.

There’s one local bank I had to open an account with that I hated from the first day I dealt with them. They were unknowledgeable, unhelpful, unprofessional and discriminatory in their treatment of local foreigners. Oddly, enough, the credit card that I have with them through their credit arm has been the perfect opposite of that! Anyway, competition is heating up in the local banking market with local bank consolidating, and foreign players eager to get into the China market. Truly, Taiwan represents one of the few relatively untapped banking markets in Chinese Asia at the moment, still.

I’ve been consolidating and reorganizing both our personal accounts and business accounts for some time, as a result of the credit crisis. While I haven’t got that much money to move around really, I’ve tried to make sure that risk is more diversified between bank accounts. In other words, I wouldn’t want to be locked out of a supply of money due to bank run or temporary closure.

For personal finances, I’ve divided my money between one local and one international bank. For business finances, one month’s emergency cash was deposited in another branch of another local bank. The only weakness in the chain is that personal and business finances overlap in one local bank. I should really do something about that by moving some money to another local bank. Unfortunately, there aren’t many banks in our area at all: and none of the big Taipei city banks have branches here at all.

My New Toy: Nokia N79 – or why FETNET sucks?

With Chinese New Year just a few weeks ago, I’ve been pretty tardy in posting on this blog. I’m not sure why. Perhaps my motivation levels aren’t as high as they have been. But to spice things up, I bought myself a new N79 Nokia mobile phone.

My first reaction is that I was surprised how MUCH mobile phones had changed in the last four years. This new N79 can do a whole bunch of things that I only heard about: it’s got an MP3 player with FM broadcast, tethering to your notebook, additional applications can be added (still no Skype), a fairly decent camera, and a huge learning curve for me.

I still get flustered when the thing rings, and I don’t know which button to hit or I hit the wrong one inadvertently. Big surprises have been the quality of the sound, the ease of use, and the simplicity of connecting. Big negatives have been the complexity of the phone, the habits of my previous phone, and the slight instability of the PC software.

Why FETNET (??) really sucks?…

I must admit that I was looking for a new phone for a while, and had intended to approach my existing mobile carrier (FETNET) for a new phone, a broadband wireless device, an ETC (highway toll card) and an additional phone line for my wife. But they were so rude. I carefully picked out a Nokia phone with their help, but they wanted me to pay an additional deposit for a new line AND buy the broadband wireless unit. To which, I guffawed loudly and said no chance. I was a customer for their company for 10 years! And they treated me as if I had just walked in off the street. I thought that was hugely unfair and discriminating. Hugely.

Wow! So I canceled my existing contract with them, went to Taiwan Mobile, and bought a better phone, an additional line for my wife, scrapped the mobile broadband since tethering worked, forwent the ETC card, and signed up for broadband. Given the costs of acquiring customers in Taiwan’s very competitive mobile phone industry (with huge saturation for the market), I was absolutely shocked that they would just let me walk out the door. They really lost out on that! I would have been quite happy to pay for mobile broadband, an additional phone line, and a new phone there and then. Instead, I went to Taiwan mobile. That cost FETNET at least. NT$55,000 over 2 years, plus a huge loss of goodwill, and some bad publicity.

Loss of business:

  • 1. mobile phone: NT$10000
  • 2. 24 months x est. calling NT$600
  • 3. 24 months x catch NT$399
  • 4. international calls on one phone (minimum: NT$3000 pa)
  • 5. 24 months x base phone plan (NT$188)
  • 6. FETNET ADSL access x 24 (est. NT$360) for our business.

But I wonder if they really care that much. They will probably never even read this story. One thing is sure: in business, be careful who you make things difficult for. Those customers might just turn around and open their wallet to your competitor!

So now I’m on Taiwan Mobile: and I can honestly say – they’ve been really helpful with my learning curve. Far more so than FETNET ever were. But the irony is: in the Taiwan Mobile store, I talked to the staff member there helping me with my application (former FETNET customer)… her friend came in (also former FETNET customer)… my best friend in Taiwan (former FETNET customer)… They treat their old customers so poorly… perhaps that’s why churn rate of customers at FarEasTone is so low.