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handset prices in ireland


A few months back I commented on the user UNfriendly behavior of mobile operators in Ireland when it came to phone upgrades. I put an upgrade out of my mind for a while (since, quite simply, I couldn't afford it), but today as I passed by a carphonewarehouse store I saw that they had the SonyEricsson T610 at "only" Euro 139 with a contract with Vodafone. I thought "Hey, maybe prices have gone down for some mysterious reason" and I went into the store to check things out.

Long story short, I was wrong. Prices are still outrageous. Subsequent visits to O2 and Vodafone stores confirmed that this was indeed the case.

How outrageous? Consider, as just one example, the price for the Nokia 3650. Vodafone and O2 pricing is basically Euro 300 (= 380 USD, or 210 British Pounds). Both with contract, upgrade prices are exactly the same, although in some cases they might knock off Euro 10 of the price if a) you've been a customer for more than 2 years and b) you've spent more than Euro 1000 in calls during that period. As a comparison, the prices of carphonewarehouse UK for the Nokia 3660 starts at 80 GBP, that is, Euro 100. Pricing in the US is similar, as is in all other European countries that I could find. That is, price here is basically more than double (and depending on the contract, three times as much) as that of anywhere else. SIM-free phones are similarly more expensive than in other countries. The Nokia N-Gage (which is probably the most "consumerish" device you could find, a device that, given its target, cries out for a low price) is priced at Euro 300 here and found in other countries at half the price. Older handsets, like the Nokia 6310, still sell here at Euro 200 apiece with contract.

Even more, note that when I quoted the carphonewarehouse UK price it was for the Nokia 3660, not the 3650. Why? Because they don't even sell the 3650 anymore. So while the 3650 is already being phased out in some places, in Ireland they only started selling it less than two months ago.

The point of this rant: I wish that the much-vaunted European integration would take hold in the supposedly fluid and borderless market that is consumer electronics. Even if Ireland's market is too small to sustain low prices, Europe as a whole shouldn't be, and prices would be, if not the same, at least roughly equivalent across borders. Now, that's not much to ask for is it? :-)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 7 2004 at 9:36 PM

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