As posted (and updated) earlier, O2 has officially launched the iPhone in Ireland, making it the fifth country (after the US, UK, Germany, and France) to enjoy the revolutionary phone and breakthrough internet device... ish...

Apple Insider reports that Irish iPhone plans, unlike all previous iPhone plans DO NOT come with unlimited data or visual voicemail (a feature often touted by Steve Jobs as being a prime example of carrier cooperation and hence, the benefit of exclusivity).

There seems to be two options here:

  1. We've heard before that Edge (2.5G data) coverage isn't strong in Europe (which more quickly embraced the faster 3G data model), so could this be a (potentially temporary) situation that O2 will rectify over time? If so, we could be looking forward to service improvements and price drops like we saw with O2 in the UK.
  2. Or is this a sign that Apple is no longer pressuring carriers to offer affordable, unlimited data plans or features like visual voice mail as part of the iPhone package? If so, this could be the beginning of a far more sweeping and important story. It's long been rumored that extremely high data rates have kept the iPhone out of countries like Canada, so if Apple is bending to carrier demands on these issues, it could allow the iPhone to spread wider, but at the cost of the concessions Apple was previously able to leverage. (And which analysts said could change the wireless industry)

What do you think? Is this just a temporary road bump on the way to Irish iPhone bliss, or a sign of changing times in carrier-land? And if so, would you prefer to see the iPhone in more countries, even if you get less data and fewer features? Or do you want Apple to hold the line on unlimited plans and visual voicemail-style innovations?