In the UK, we're used to getting our phones for free. Now, nobody is expecting to get an iPhone for free, however, this contract does show a marked change...
Here, when we take out a phone contract, we get a phone for free ( higher the rate of contract, the more expensive phone you can have ). The carrier will lock you into the contract for usually 12 months ( sometimes now 18 months ), in order to recoup the cost of the phone. That's fair enough, good value, everyone happy. If you *buy* a phone here, you aren't locked into a contract, and can switch provider or have Pay-As-You-Go etc.
With the iPhone, you have to *pay* for the phone, *and* you get locked into a min 18 month contract. So what cost is the carrier recouping? The fees it's paying to Apple, that's what.
In the first instance, the benefit and the cost-penalty go to the consumer. Fair play. In the second instance, the cost-penalty stays with the consumer, but the benefit moves to Apple. Someone somewhere is rubbing their hands with glee, but it's not the little guy on the street.
Sorry, it's a nice shiny device, with a very cool interface, but it's lacking in some important features, and I know a bad deal when I see one.