iPhone suckers test our patience

So how many of you have bought a 3G iPhone? Do you feel like a sucker? If you don't, maybe you will once your first bill arrives.

So how many of you have bought a 3G iPhone? Do you feel like a sucker? If you don't, maybe you will once your first bill arrives.

While Steve Jobs takes his wheelbarrow of cash to the bank, the ACCC is preparing 3G data customers for what the industry calls "bill shock", which is what the watchdog says will happen when users who have not chosen an appropriate data plan receive their first bill.

How much does a 3G iPhone really cost?

Click here for a breakdown of Australia's iPhone pricing plans

We know everything about the iPhone 3G and we know how much each of the Aussie telcos will be charging us for one. All that's left to do is sift through the seemingly endless plans to discover the best value iPhone deals.
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The ACCC suspects consumers will face "significant" costs because they may have been "misled" by telcos.

IDC telecoms analyst Mark Novosel gave an example of what might be worrying the ACCC: "Telstra's entry-level $30 plan provides a trivial 5MB of data per month, which can be consumed in less than one minute; downloading a single song, leaving consumers with excess usage charges of $1 per MB".

Suddenly, all that small print about excess usage charges and additional data costs will, probably for the first time, be read and re-read by consumers who got lost in the excitement to become one of Australia's first 3G iPhone owners.

Who can envy that sinking feeling when they open their mobile phone bills and scream, "HOW MUCH?"

"Bill shock" for Optus' customers may come later than the rest of the industry as it is offering free data for the first month. However, for addictive products, isn't the first taste always free?

How much of this is caused by operators deliberately adopting complex pricing structures designed to make it difficult for consumers to make an informed decision? Alternatively, how much of this is due to consumers with more money than sense?

Although I have been very tempted to get an iPhone, I am waiting till the "early adopters" are satisfied and the telcos start selling the device at a sensible price on a sensible plan — something equivalent to Vodafone's dongle pricing or most of 3's mobile phone plans.

One indication that the initial madness is over will be when telcos offer a combined 3G mobile data plan and home broadband allowance, which would mean that, for example, a Telstra/Bigpond customer could respond to a few emails using their mobile on the bus and not worry that the data charge could cost as much as their weekly ticket.

When I asked IDC's Novosel if and when we may see this kind of combo deal, he said "not anytime soon" because although the operators likely have this idea on the drawing board, there are still "enough people willing to pay through the nose to get an iPhone".

Have you bought an iPhone? Are you worried about your data bill? Have you moved your iPhone to the 3 network? How long do you think we will have to wait for realistic data plans?

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