Will the iPhone lose its Edge in the UK?

Will the iPhone lose its Edge in the UK?

Analyst downplays impact of broadband system

The iPhone's use of Edge for its mobile broadband will not be a major issue when the device launches in the UK on Friday, says one analyst.

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst for services and mobility at Quocirca, said that Apple's decision to use Edge instead of 3G will not be the deterrent some have predicted.

"It might not be as big an issue as we have made it," Bamforth said. "This might be a distraction and a disappointment for a number of people, but I think there are other points that people will go for."

Apple's decision to eschew 3G for the longer battery life afforded by Edge was initially met with criticism by many pundits who predicted that the smaller range and lower data transmission speed could hamper sales of the device.

Bamforth, however, does not see either issue being a factor for the vast majority of potential UK iPhone users.

The analyst contended that the 30 per cent coverage promised by O2 should encompass most urban areas in the UK, and should be comparable to 3G coverage in most areas.

"When these numbers are bandied around, it is hard to see what they mean. You have to look at the coverage and overlay the usage model," said Bamforth.

The analyst suggested that wireless internet use will be desired while users are stationary, but not while driving through the countryside or moving in and out of an Edge-coverage area.

"There are certain things you cannot do while driving or walking," he noted. "Quite a lot of people will be doing stuff in urban areas, in coffee shops and in places like that, and they are probably going to be close to Wi-Fi."

Bamforth also downplayed the notion that Edge's slower speed would be a significant turn off for the majority of mobile users.

"If you look at what people are doing day-to-day, and what the average person wants to do, there really is a mass-market out there that does things that are less demanding," he said.

The analyst maintained that the excitement over the iPhone and its much-heralded user interface should overcome any perceived hardware limitations.

To back up his assertion, Bamforth pointed to another successful mobile device that was initially criticised: the BlackBerry.

"There is that cool factor that comes along every now and then with gadgets. It came along with the BlackBerry," he said.

"People said that the GPRS in BlackBerry was not adequate. Turns out it was adequate enough."