Maxis and DiGi have just launched the much talked about iPhone 4 yesterday evening. The way both listed companies playing hide-and-seek with customers hours to the launching remind us of the launching of Toyota Vios and Honda City in 2003. Both were secretive about their pricing structure and the teasing game continued so much so that somehow DiGi’s pricing plan was leaked and posted on the internet.
Now that the pricing and payment options are out, the consumers do not find it any easier to make up their mind on which service providers to choose. Overall the pricing of Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AAPL, stock) iPhone 4 offered little difference so it’s back to the multiple subscription plans put on the table by Maxis Berhad (KLSE: MAXIS, stock-code 6012) and DiGi.com Berhad (KLSE: DIGI, stock-code 6947).
As expected the marketing genius between the two, DiGi, slashed its original plan of iDiGi 88, iDiGi 138 and iDiGi 238 to compete with Maxis. This is the only area that both can cannibalize each other since the hardware cost is almost constant. The entry plan for iDiGi 88 was reduced from RM88 to RM63 and further cut to RM58 / month after auto-billing option. Maxis’ entry plan is iValue1 at RM100 / month but frankly it’s not an apple-to-apple comparison because the plan’s offering is slightly different.
While iDiGi 88 offers same data (1GB), SMS (200) and MMS (20), its voice or talk-time of 200 minutes is more than 50% less than Maxis’s 333 minutes. Of course Maxis was speechless with free offerings such as free calls, SMS and MMS between supplementary lines offered by iDiGi plans. Perhaps the hottest selling point from DiGi is the free unlimited internet data usage (within Malaysia only) should you exceed monthly internet quota of which Maxis is charging 5sen/10KB up to RM250 per month.
In terms of cost of ownership, DiGi obviously is the winner with savings of RM188, RM388 and RM488 for iDiGi 88, iDiGi 138 and iDiGi 238 respectively compared to Maxis. What does this means is at the end of the 24-month contract, the cost of iPhone 4 plus your total subscription fees would cost less for DiGi’s customers. But if you’re just light-weight users who make some calls and couple of SMS every now and then, the investment of RM3,602 (iPhone 4 plus 24-month of iDiGi 88 plan) is perhaps better put in purchasing a notebook *grin*.
However you should be aware that all DiGi’s plan comes with 24-month contract while Maxis offers both 24-month as well as 12-month contracts. Is the length of contract important? Absolutely, because the war in the non-voice business has just started so the only thing that will happen going forward is lower monthly fees or higher data usage or both. Anyone who bought iPhone 3GS from DiGi less than 6-months ago is banging the wall because they’re committed by the contract to service their old higher rates while new customers are enjoying better deal at lower price now.
The cost of hardware with more powerful capabilities will continue to drop. The same goes with the subscription plans so it’s a never-ending war. And before you know it Apple may announce iPhone 5, 6, 7 and so on. Steve Jobs may announce new iPhone that can make coffees and bake cakes and your jaw may drops *grin*. You may want to consider short-term contract such as Maxis’ 12-month plan although the iPhone price may be higher.
Also, you may need to check out the 3G service within your area otherwise you may pickup the wrong service provider. Generally Maxis provide wider coverage than DiGi although I’m not sure if their customer service has not drop to the level of DiGi’s. Heck, if you do not wish to bind yourself to any contract at all, you can actually consider getting iPhone 4 from Singapore Apple Store that offers iPhone 4 without contract. The unlocked iPhone 4 is available at S$888 (RM2,070) for 16GB and S$1048 (RM2,440) for 32GB. As comparison, Maxis and DiGi iPhone 4 RRP is RM2,290 for 16GB and RM2,690 for 32 GB.
The only problem is you may need to resend your iPhone 4 to Singapore for repair should the phone refuse to work during the warranty period. Since iPhone 4 only works with micro-SIM cards instead of normal SIM cards as in the case of iPhone 3GS, you may need to check out if Maxis and DiGi sell such cards, before you take the next available flight to Singapore Apple Store for the iPhone 4.
Before you make that decision, why don’t you go pay a visit to DiGi’s iPhone 4 Carnival at Quill 9 BMW Showroom, Section 14, Petaling Jaya, this Sat (25-Sept) and Sun (26-Sept) from 10am to 10pm. Exclusively at this event, you can get additional RM100 off for any phone in any condition so if you still keep that brick that could kill a dog, you’re in luck.
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