This is turning out to be a pretty weird iPhone 5 release in Brazil. In other years, the week preceding the iPhone’s release is filled with news, rumors and poorly taken pictures of prices, plans and release events. Releases are pretty much like in the US, with huge lines all night long, big events in stores… you know, the whole thing.
However, this time around it feels like there will be no release at all. It’s as if the iPhone 5 had already been released long ago, and it’s not news anymore. Of course that on the night between thursday and friday there will be lines, events, happy people holding their iPhones like trophies. And I’m pretty convinced that the release will be a success, with those waiting lists filled with names eager to be lucky enough to be among the ones who’ll get their new iPhones with a new batch in the following days.
But merely 3 days ahead of all that, the mood is different. Nobody is talking about it. Nobody is asking about it. It’s a mix of distrust and dismay.
Carrier TIM is to blame for a big part of it. They released those insane prices a few days ago. Vivo, Brazil’s biggest carrier (well, at least the one with the most clients), tried to use this as an opportunity, but when they announced that the cheapest price would be R$1449 (U$698), we got to the conclusion that it’s inevitable that the iPhone 5 will be more expensive than the iPhone 4S, which will cause even the used phones market to hold on to higher price levels.
As a result, potential buyers for both new and used iPhones are having to go back to their budget spreadsheets to do some extra math, trying to figure out if they will be able to buy the Chirstmas gifts they had been planning for so long.
The reasons for that have already been explored. The main villain has been identified. It’s the exchange rate. It’s gone up 17% in the last year. Even Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s FCO has blamed the exchange rate for the increase of Apple’s prices in Brazil, when asked about it via email by a brazilian called Victor Marques Soprana. But the fact is that since TIM released those crazy prices, all the anticipation gave way to this… numbness.
It’s a shame. Just as Apple and Brazil reach their tightest relationship, with iDevices being manufactured here, Apple Store just being announced, portuguese-speaking Siri on the brink of being released, here comes (or comes again, that is) the price factor, old acquaintance of Apple enthusiasts in Brazil.
There is still that naïve hope that once all the cards are on the table, once all carriers release all the prices for all the plans, we’ll have a pleasant surprise. But history shows that when it comes to carriers, the odds aren’t really on our side.