Orcon launched iPhones in NZ well before anyone else

, posted: 14-Jul-2010 11:30

Yes, that's the truth: Seeby Woodhouse's merry band at Orcon were first in New Zealand with iPhones by a country mile. In fact, Orcon may have had iPhones in New Zealand as early as 1997; I've asked Seeby to give me the history behind the devices and how well they fared in this market, so hope he'll do just that.
These early iPhones weren't quite as as mobile as the present generation, nor were they 3G. They were pretty cool devices nevertheless… check out the Cidco iPhone for instance:
"A SUN Ultra Enterprise II server, that eliminates colour and fancy formatting so that web pages can be displayed on the small screen of the iPhone." That's hard core. You don't get that feature with the new iPhones, do you?
The dial-up modem was 14.4kbps only though, so I'm not sure why it's claimed to have 28.8kbps equivalent performance. Hardware compression maybe.
Other than that, the 16 greyscale 7.4" 640 by 480 pixel touch screen, a 50 per cent QWERTY slide-away keyboard, email, Netscape/Internet Explorer compatible browser that supports 128-bit SSL, cookies etc, make it a fully-featured device.
Not content with the Cidco model, Orcon  got in the Big Daddy iPhone 2050 too. Just look at these features:
Nice. You can check out the iPhone 2050 simulator here.
The phones themselves were made by InfoGear Technology Corporation in Israel that shipped the first generation iPhone in 1997 and the second one in 1999. The iPhones floored Cisco, which bought InfoGear in 2000 and sued Apple for trademark infringement in 2007 for using the iPhone moniker.
I never saw these at the time and stumbled across the still active iph.net.nz through Duck Duck Go's search engine – has anyone used the above iPhones? What was the service like and how much did it cost?
Heard back from Seeby, who says:
The Cidco iPhone service was at the time a revolutionary service offered by Voyager some 13 years ago.
Basically the phone could do VOIP over dialup and also had web-browsing and email all built into a single platform that was easier to use than a PC.
The downside is that it was all proprietary, and needed an expensive server-side SUN server at the ISP to run it all.
When voyager was bought by MCI, they started heaving off customers (residential to Xtra), and Orcon ended up picking up the iPhone business. At it's peak we had around 180 customers on the service, which fell off over the years.
Cisco then bought the Cidco iPhone, and re-engineered the platform to be fully IP compatible.
Apple then brought out the iPhone years later, so that no-one will know what the hell these old clunky phones are anymore if you talk about them... Can't believe that website is still there! I personally built it about 8 years ago at least....

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Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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