A plea to Apple

In Singapore the last few days, I found some time to visit Orchard Road on Sunday. I thought about the best place to get an iPhone 3G and headed to Lucky Plaza. To my surprise, zip, zilch, nada.

Disappointed, as a long-time Apple user and developer, who has bought a lot of Apple gear, and been to several WWDC’s, and still continue to buy Apple gear (latest acquisition: MacBook Air), that Apple constantly assumes that there is no world outside of the USA.

So I asked myself over a very late lunch, why am I roaming the streets of Singapore, just to get myself an iPhone 3G, and have to go thru the hassle of “cracking” it? I am a legitimate user, who’s willing to pay the actual fees, yet I’m shoved for being in the wrong country.

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I’ve recently changed my location from Melbourne, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is a problem for the iTunes Music Store, because while the iTunes Music Store is commonplace in America, it wasn’t long ago that it came to Australia. It still doesn’t exist yet in Malaysia. In fact, my Malaysian-issued credit card is discriminated against by Apple’s online store.

This I consider to be a large failure – I guess this will change at some stage, as the iPod Touch is sold legally in Malaysia, and applications for it must be available now (I haven’t checked this week, I’ve been pre-occupied).
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I was extremely overjoyed that I got invited to a Facebook group (this doesn’t happen often, believe me), called iPhone 4 Malaysia. Louis Pang compares Malaysia against Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Madagascar, showing the number of mobile phone users, GDP per capita, and population of each country. Impressed I was, seeing the Malaysian statistic:
Population: 25.3 million
GDP per capita: USD$13,000
Mobile phone users (2006): 19.4 million

77% of Malaysians have a mobile phone! This statistic is surely a fib (I think; then again, some people have more than one mobile phone), as the adult population in Malaysia is nowhere near 77% (I’m unsure what the statistic is, I’m wondering where the census data is…)

Then again, if true, how is it possible that Apple is selling iPhones in these other countries, and not in Malaysia?

Naturally, I looked at the article at The Edge Daily, and Sharmila states that Maxis gets right to distribute the iPhone 3G. There is no reason to speculate, but the cost is expected to be under RM1,000. Will this happen by year end? Who’s to say…

So, if you’ve read this far down, and you’re Steve Jobs (or someone close to him, and will pass the message on), here’s my advice:

  • Give Malaysians access to the iTunes Music store – Seriously, you’re missing out on a good opportunity. With disposable incomes amongst the large majority of the iPod toting crowd, buying music via the iTunes Music Store will definitely be easier than firing up a BitTorrent client, and waiting for the download, thanks to the throttling of traffic
  • Malaysian credit cards are not fraudulent – Amazon, Paypal, and the list goes on, they all have no issue accepting a Malaysian issued credit card. Why should you be any different, Jobs? With the proliferation of Visa Debit cards, surely you can’t be worried about fraud?
  • Don’t cripple access to the iTunes Music Store – by this, I mean, it should not only be for applications for the iPod Touch, but also music, TV shows (I imagine people buying BBC’s Top Gear rather than downloading it), and movies

After all, proliferation of broadband is great. There is already a large amount of users who are on the Internet. There are more and more Mac users, after all, there are a tonne of new shops selling Macs (Apple Authorised Resellers/Partners). Everyone in urban areas is using the latest, greatest, mobile phone (I dare say, the average Malaysian in urban areas are more mobile phone crazy than the average Australian in urban areas),

Make a bang with your presence, Apple.

— Current multiple-time Apple customer, dormant Apple developer, iPhone 3G owner-to-be

Update: There’s also an online petition to sign. And the Facebook group is standing at 1,019 members now…


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