RIYADH – Mobily notched up 25, 000 subscribers within hours of its launch here Sunday of Apple’s iPhone 3G, arguably the most sophisticated touchscreen smartphone yet for making calls, sending emails and surfing the web even faster.
Now available at 500 sales outlets of Mobily and affiliates around the Kingdom, the iPhone 3G combines a revolutionary phone, widescreen iPod and breakthrough Internet device.
The phone comes packaged with pre- and post-paid Mobily subscription plans. An 8GB post-paid subscription is priced at SR2,255, 16GB at SR2,650, with a monthly fee of SR99. The pre-paid prices are SR2,400 for 8 GB and SR2,800 for 16GB.
Post-paid subscribers will get an additional 75 minutes of voice and SMS credit and data credit of 199 MB. Pre-paid consumers will get 250MB in data credit, Mobily executives said during the launch press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel here.
What’s disappointing though is that, for now, the device does not allow users to send or read text messages in Arabic and the web browser does not render Arabic text properly. These would be rectified and introduced within three months, said a spokesperson of Mobily, the Saudi affiliate of Etisalat.
“Our target market will definitely be the youth,” said Mobily CEO Khalid Al-Kaf, noting the popularity of Apple’s uncontested iPod, the online music craze, video clips, YouTube and so forth.
But will problematic Internet access in Saudi Arabia hamper the full functionality of the iPhone?
“Mobily already has a very good 3G network in the Kingdom and the iPhone with its search capability will optimize use of the network’s resources,”Al-Kaf, said, “and you might see a very good improvement in the functionality of the phone itself.”
The market responded enthusiastically to Sunday’s launch.
“In just a few hours of launch the number of walk-in customers and those who applied online reached 25,000,” said Ali S. Al-Dakhee, Mobily’s Youth Segment Manager.
The latest iPhone’s features include fast 3G networking, GPS mapping and support for enterprise features and Microsoft Exchange. The Apple Store, which provides access to tens of thousands of applications from games and social networking to financial planning and health management, has generated over 500,000 downloads to date. – SG