If you're one of the many people finding the sheer cost and lengthy contract commitment of the Apple iPhone (opens in new tab) too much to justify, why not just rent one instead? New online rental marketplace, erento, is giving you the opportunity to do just that.
Apparently aimed at those who have yet to decide whether to take the financial plunge and join the iPhone club, or those simply looking to impress at a party, the service is being touted as an effective way to 'try before you buy'. It isn't exactly cheap though. A day's rental will set you back £29, while a week's use is £99.
Everyone wants an iPhone...
If the system is good news for Apple fans wanting to try out the iPhone, it's better news for those who already own one. It didn't take enterprising iPhone owners long to spot the business opportunity.
"Having coughed up quite a lot of money for this beautiful gadget, I heard about this new online rental site and figured that I could make my money back in a just a few weeks," said Steve Morrison, a rental supplier on erento.
The company seems to think that there's a definite market out there for iPhone rental. It claims that it ties into a wider trend of rentals, interestingly likening the perceived 'need' to rent an iPhone to the same need to rent a bike or handbag.
"If recent trends are anything to go by," says the company's statement, "then erento might just be onto something. Congestion charges, parking restrictions, traffic and environmental concerns have contributed to the rise of car clubs and bicycle rentals, while ever-changing fashion and the cost of luxury brands have led to the emergence of clothes and handbag rental services."
But while the iPhone is undoubtedly a highly desirable device, it seems unlikely that anyone would actually regard it as a necessity worth hiring. And would anyone still umming and ahhing about whether or not a first gen iPhone is worth it really fork out £29 to try one for the day? We doubt it.
Clearly this isn't about 'try before you buy' at all; it's to do with image. After all, anyone considering renting an iPhone would hardly be doing so solely for its capabilities as a mobile phone. But while there will be people out there willing to pay £29 for the kudos of owning an iPhone for an evening, somehow we can't see it appealing to quite the same market as the rent-a-handbag market crowd.