When I finally filled my iPod Touch 16GB and realized that I really do like a lot of the iPhone apps, it was time to bid my Nokia N96 (which has been a problem child) goodbye and go straight for the top: an iPhone 32GB.
I'd not heard any recent reports of shortages although WSJ blogs had reported shortages back in July. There were reports of shortages in Australia in August. The same was true in Canada - again in August. But nothing after that. Unless of course you live - as I do - in Spain.
As far as I can tell, there are barely any available from Telefonica in Spain or any of its third party outlets. I asked my colleague Tom Raftery, analyst at Greenmonk if he'd managed to get one. He lamented he's been on three waiting lists since July. He did a tour of the local stockists in Sevilla last weekend: nothing, zippo, nada. I could have sworn I'd seen one in Carrefour Malaga the other week but Tom warned it was probably only a demo model. I then asked Luis Suarez an IBM'er who lives on Gran Canaria whether he's been able to track anything down. His response in a direct message via Twitter:
No, there isn't [any iPhone 3Gs]. Not until Movistar decides to block the sales after they have sold all 3G models. Really pathetic. Read http://is.gd/4fiYU
That link is to a El Mundo article dated 16th September entitled: 'El nuevo iPhone 3GS no acaba de llegar a España' which literally means: 'The new iPhone 3GS has not finished arriving in Spain.' Looks like it's barely started! 185 comments running right up to the other day repeat the same tale: none to be found in anything like a reasonable time scale. Luis booked with six different shops and has not heard a word back from any of them.
It seems that Movistar, the arm of Telefonica that runs its mobile division is stuck with large stocks of the older 3G and will not release the new models until stocks are depleted. Or at least that is what places like PlanetaiPhone believe according to the El Mundo report.
This doesn't surprise. As Luis said in a subsequent Tweeted message:
That simple action being ... not having a clue whatsoever on what customer service is all about!
But is this correct? Reading Apple's Spanish site, it claims that the iPhone is available in 'hundreds' of Telefonica stores. Maybe the old model is but certainly not the new which is the one the Apple site is most heavily promoting.
Telefonica's service quality in Spain is legendary for the heights it scales in the 'appalling' stakes. Only the other week, I inquired to see if I could get my broadband upload speed lifted to 1 mbps (please don't laugh, we only get 256 kbps on a good day) only to be told it was impossible but maybe technical services could help me. I know it can be done and I'm prepared to pay the premium but to be brushed off in this manner is annoying. Having had several run-ins with Telefonica's tech services, I can safely say it seems to operate on the principle that whatever the problem is - it ain't theirs. If you want to know what I really think about Telefonica, then check out this 30 second video I recorded in 2006.
But here's the kicker. If I want to buy an iPhone from O2 in the UK, it is available on demand. What's the connection? O2 is owned by Telefonica. Oh yes - and they'll sell me a plan that gives me a discount on calls back to the UK from Spain. But no similar data concessions.
Of course I could buy a jailbroken iPhone in Spain from places like TecnoMobile if I am prepared to pay the eye watering price of €799 ($1,180.) Given the state of the British peso pound and US Dollar, that makes such thought a far off dream.
Looks like I'll have to grin and bear the shortage like everyone else.