The highly anticipated UK launch of Apple’s iPhone is being overshadowed by the news that search engine giant Google is joining the mobile phone market with further plans to launch its own mobile handset.
Ending months of speculation, Google said yesterday that plans to develop the ‘G-Phone’ as it is being dubbed, are underway and while details are still being kept under wraps, there are a number of other ideas in the pipeline for an array of smart phones to rival Apple’s latest offering.
Google has already teamed up with some of the biggest mobile telephone makers to incorporate its applications into a number of mobile handsets. At present, there are a variety of operating systems such as Microsoft and UK-based maker of mobile phone software, Symbian, which allow mobiles to access the internet. The Google software will be compatible with most handsets and future plans include offering tailor-made services and social networking sites similar to Facebook and Bibo.
The announcement of Google’s plans has taken the shine off the iPhone’s launch which has already been somewhat marred after a deluge of customer complaints following the US launch in June.
The main bugbear has been Apple’s inflexible and “closed system” which prevents third parties adding their own applications to Apple products. Apple fans have also complained that the firm has become as greedy and ruthless as arch rival Microsoft, and many fear that the handsets are simple to hack following reports that hackers have twice managed to outsmart the iPhone.
In the UK, the solo contract with O2 has also prompted a backlash from hackers who claim that they too will be able to unlock the iPhones to allow other mobile network providers to access to the handsets.
In addition, a further shadow has been cast over the launch after environmentalists called for Apple to take the phone off the market until it is free of harmful elements. Greenpeace research has found that the US version of the iPhone contains toxic chemicals such as brominated flame retardants which could pose a risk to the user’s health. However, Apple has stated that the iPhone complies with the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive and has pledged to eliminate the use of such chemicals in its handsets by next year.
The iPhone, which goes on sale at 6.02pm on Friday, is hoping to cash in on the Christmas sales. Apple and its UK partners O2 and Carphone Warehouse are planning on selling 10,000 handsets on Friday while O2 has ordered “several hundred thousand” units for sale in the run up to Christmas.
Commenting on the launch of the iPhone, Rob Barnes, head of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.com says: “The iPhone will help O2 gain a large slice of the mobile market share, placing additional focus on the brand, and no doubt increase profits, but I think there are other more viable alternatives people could be asking for in their stockings this Christmas.”
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