Apple has been kicking up a fuss recently in the news, especially amongst radio stations who are quivering at the thought of Apple Music’s ‘Beats Radio’ potentially coaxing listeners away in their droves. Spotify, Google Play Music and a host of other music streaming websites have also been pulling at their collars frantically after Apple Music's launch last week.
Yet, on the side-lines and very discreetly in the background, Apple has also began operating in a second industry, one which seems slightly more natural. There has been no fuss and little advertising leading to a very low-key launch overall. However, if you were paying close attention you may have noticed that Apple has recently launched a new SIM-card plan for Australians travelling overseas that want more affordable data.
The entrance of Apple into the telecoms industry is certainly a more pragmatic business strategy from the tech giant and with the poor rates offered by some Australian telecoms companies, I’m sure many Aussies will be eager to find out more.
The new Apple SIM cards can be used within 3G iPads so that Australians can have access to cheaper data while abroad. The SIM cards will be available to buy at Apple stores and the data packs will be provided by Apple’s partner, GigSky. The great news is that you can already use your new data pack in over 90 countries across the globe. These new SIMs are not unique to Australia however, as they can already be bought from stores in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and USA as well. Prices start from as little as $10, but to get 3GB of data you need to spend around $50 (depending on where you roam).
From personal experiences in the past (whilst abroad) I've ended up spending countless hours looking for free Wi-Fi after getting stuck or lost with little help or assistance nearby. If you’ve not heard of GigSky before, they are the first global network designed for travellers. They claim:
“Traditional carriers focus on their domestic markets and treat international service as an afterthought. GigSky specialises in international data coverage to give individuals and businesses the best service, coverage and pricing in a seamless experience.”
Ravi Rishy-Maharaj, CEO and founder of GigSky wants to end the hunt for Wi-Fi when travellers are abroad. If you are travelling to the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece and Italy for example then $50 will give you 3GB of data for 30 days.
$50 in countries like Denmark, France and the United States will give you 1GB of data for the same 30 days. If you intend on travelling to countries like New Zealand and Fiji for you might not be so happy. The same $50 for data in New Zealand only gives you 500MB, whilst in Fiji you get a dismally low 90MB.
Along with GigSky, Apple has also partnered with other telecoms providers to help you receive signal wherever you travel. Their other partners include EE and T-Mobile.
Now whilst the latter countries (New Zealand and Fiji) sound very expensive, I wanted to demonstrate how Apple's SIM prices compared to other telecoms providers in Australia. To offer an objective perspective on this I have selected a few countries at random across the globe to provide a good variety of what Australian companies will charge for 1GB of data when compared to Apple.
WARNING: Sensitive viewers please look away now!
Telco Cost Comparison for 1GB of Roaming Data:
* Cheapest rate/s for each country highlighted in green above.
** Where data plans were not available for specific countries, I selected the basic cost per MB to calculate the price per 1GB of data.
There you have it. In those countries where the Apple SIM has coverage, it looks like it works cheaper almost everywhere. The only exception is Fiji where Telstra actually charged less per 1GB. Predominantly though in all the large European countries that one is likely to travel to, the cost of data with an Apple SIM is considerably less. In the UK, for example, you're looking at saving $333.34 on 1GB compared to the next closest competitor, Telstra.
What was most revealing to me in the table above was just how astronomical Amaysim's data roaming charges were across all the countries mentioned. Their website states that they charge $0.23667c per 10KB (rounded up) which is phenomenally expensive! From this pricing structure it's abundantly clear that their packages are meant for local use only and that they have absolutely no intention of trying to compete with international rates for data usage.
Although still a relatively new service, Apple does need to work on expanding its network to encompass countries like Brazil and Thailand for example (with Telstra being the current cheapest option in each at $350). So far though, they've certainly created an enticingly competitive product which I'm sure many customers will be more than willing to purchase.