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Not all AT&T customers eligible for $199 iPhone 3G

After several conflicting reports, iLounge has confirmed with AT&T that the iPhone 3G will not be universally available to all customers at the previously announced $199/$299 price points. According to Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media Relations with AT&T Mobility, only “[c]urrent iPhone customers, new customers, and current non-iPhone AT&T wireless customers who are upgrade eligible will get the iPhone 3G at the $199/$299 price points.” This description omits “upgrade ineligible” AT&T customers, a category that is explained on an AT&T upgrade eligibility requirements web page. In short, AT&T customers who have had their current phones and plans for at least two years, customers who have had a plan costing between $68.99 and $98.99 for at least 21 months, and customers who have had a plan costing over $99 for at least 12 months are all eligible; those who do not meet one of these standards are ineligible and will have to pay a higher price. Additionally, following speculative reports that it might be possible for some customers to activate their iPhone 3Gs at home using iTunes, Siegel reiterated that activations will “take place in the store.”

iPhone 3G to hit Russia later this year?

Despite the current lack of a carrier agreement for Russia, The Moscow Times reports that comments made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggest that the iPhone 3G may still make its way to the country later this year. “We just didn’t have a chance to close [a deal] with Russia. And I think you’ll see [agreements] happen later this year,” Jobs said during an interview with CNBC last week. The report states that an estimated 300,000 first-generation iPhones are already in use in Russia. “About 20,000 iPhone handsets are brought into the country in suitcases every month,” Eldar Murtazin, editor of Moscow-based Mobile Research Group said. “The current model, which sells officially in six countries for a marked-up $399, currently sells for about $1,000 in Moscow.”

Russian carriers Mobile TeleSystems and MegaFon have confirmed that they held talks with Apple about the iPhone, but failed to reach an agreement. A separate report from Vedomosti suggested that the problem hinged on Apple’s insistance that the carriers buy the handsets wholesale, and that they pay Apple 10 percent on every iPhone sold, as well as 10 percent of the monthly revenue from iPhone subscribers. Yekaterina Osadchaya, spokeswoman for VimpelCom, the country’s second-largest operator, said that Apple’s new strategy of cheaper, subsidized phones and its abandonment of the revenue sharing business model would bring many Russian operators on board. “VimpelCom is looking at the possibility of holding talks with Apple about a distribution agreement for the iPhones,” Osadchaya said. “This is a very auspicious year for the handset in Russia because we are rolling out 3G technology in 20 cities this summer.”

O2, T-Mobile to offer £0-€1 iPhone 3G with contract

T-Mobile has announced that it will offer the iPhone 3G in Germany for as little as one euro with a qualifying monthly contract, following the lead of O2 in the United Kingdom, which announced that it will offer the phone for free in a similar subsidy promotion. Customers purchasing an 8GB iPhone 3G with a 69 euro, 24-month contract from T-Mobile will pay only 1 euro for the phone, with the 16GB model starting at 19.95 euros with an 89 euro monthly plan and going up to 249.95 euros with a minimal 29 euro per month contract. Similarly, O2 customers will receive the 8GB iPhone 3G for free with a £45 or £75 18-month agreement, or can choose to pay £99 with a £35 or £30 tariff. The 16GB model will be offered for free with a £75 monthly plan, for £59 with a £45 tariff, and will run £159 when purchased on a £30 or £35 plan.

O2 expands iPhone Wi-Fi coverage

O2 has announced a deal with BT Openzone to expand the unlimited Wi-Fi package offered to all iPhone customers. Beginning July 11th, iPhone users will have access to more than 3,000 BT Openzone premier Wi-Fi hotspots as part of their monthly O2 tariff, for no extra cost. The addition of BT Openzone’s more than 3,000 hotspots to O2’s existing arrangement with The Cloud brings the total number of available public Wi-Fi hotspots for iPhone customers to over 9,000.

“By working with partners like BT Openzone we can maximise the web experience for iPhone customers,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 in the UK. “Public Wi-Fi hotspots ideally complement our mobile network, providing high speed web browsing and unlimited access to services like the iTunes Wi-Fi store in a wide variety of convenient locations.”

“The availability of BT Openzone on the iPhone 3G is in direct response to strong customer demand for a quality Wi-Fi service on their device. BT aims to keep customers best connected, any time and any place. With the iPhone set to become even more popular, BT is providing high-speed internet access at premier locations in the UK,” said Dave Hughes, director, BT Wireless Broadband.

T-Mobile to carry iPhone 3G in Eastern Europe

Alongside an announcement that it will begin selling the iPhone 3G in Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria on July 11, T-Mobile has revealed that it will offer the phone in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia later this year. “We are excited to bring iPhone 3G to more of our T-Mobile customers this year,” said Christopher Schläffer, CIO of Deutsche Telekom AG. “iPhone was a breakthrough for the mobile Internet in Germany and Austria. Now with iPhone 3G’s faster speeds, we know our customers will love browsing the web even more.” Further details, such as launch dates and pricing information, have yet to be annoucned.

iPhone 3G’s third sensor revealed as second proximity sensor

The iPhone 3G’s third sensor, first revealed by iLounge in April, has been confirmed as a second proximity sensor. While the original iPhone offered only two front-mounted —one ambient light sensor and one proximity sensor—the iPhone 3G sports an array of three sensors (two proximity sensors, one ambient light sensor) in a J shape to the left of the ear speaker, moved from their original locations above and to the speaker’s right. iLounge has learned that the two-sensor array apparently provides superior face proximity detection than the original single sensor, which under some conditions failed to function properly. This detail and others are included in our First Look at the iPhone 3G.

Telefónica to offer iPhone in 16 countries

In addition to previously announced carrier deals for the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, Telefónica has announced (PDF Link) that it will offer the iPhone in 12 Latin America countries as well as the Czech Republic, bringing the total number of countries where it will offer the device to 16. The new Latin American agreement covers Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. César Alierta, chairman and CEO of Telefónica S.A., said, “The iPhone has changed the way people communicate and access content on the move. It has already proved hugely popular in the UK and Ireland and we’re delighted that we can now offer the same benefits to our customers in Spain, Latin America and the Czech Republic. The 16 countries in which we are the carrier of iPhone have a combined addressable market of more than 500 million people – making Telefónica one of the leading global distributors of this revolutionary device.” Telefónica currently has 95 million subscribers in Latin America and the Czech Republic. For more information on international iPhone carriers, check out our Complete Guide to iPhone Service Providers.

iPhone 3G carriers, Apple vary on Visual Voicemail

As Apple has announced plans to launch the iPhone 3G in 22 countries on July 11, iLounge has contacted these countries’ carriers to find out whether Visual Voicemail will be supported on their calling plans. This feature, which provides random list-style access to voicemail messages, has proved too complex for some carriers to implement, and is missing from some of Apple.com’s iPhone 3G international web pages. Here are answers from the carriers’ representatives, along with how Apple.com describes or omits the feature from its iPhone 3G features pages.

T-Mobile (Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands): “As far as I know, VVM will still be a unique feature for the iPhone.” Apple.com’s web pages for Austria and Germany both show and describe Visual Voicemail, but the Netherlands page neither includes text nor an image of the feature. Competing network Orange has not yet confirmed whether it will offer Visual Voicemail in Austria.

Telefónica (Spain): “Yes, We will offer Visual Voicemail.” Apple.com’s Spain page shows a picture and description of the feature.

Vodafone (Australia, Italy, New Zealand, & Portugal): “Vodafone will not support Visual Voicemail at the time of launch but is planning to roll out the service later this fiscal year.” Apple.com shows nothing for Visual Voicemail in Italy, which will also be serviced by TIM. The Australia, New Zealand, and Portugal pages include a Visual Voicemail photo, but text has been omitted—a sign that support in these countries is tentative. Competing network Orange has not yet confirmed whether it will offer Visual Voicemail in Portugal.

TeliaSonera (Denmark, Finland, Norway, & Sweden): “I have no further information to disclose than was in the press-release issued yesterday.” Apple.com shows no mention of Visual Voicemail for Denmark, Finland and Norway, and only a photo without text for Sweden.

Globe Telecom (Philippines): “We will announce at a later date the functionality and plan details.” Apple.com’s generic “Asia” web page is listed as its reference point for the Phillippines; no mention of Visual Voicemail is made in that text, but a photo is included.

Swisscom (Switzerland): “We currently don’t comment on the supported functions but around 11 July things will be clear.” Apple.com describes and shows Visual Voicemail on its Switzerland page. Competing network Orange has not yet confirmed whether it will offer Visual Voicemail in Switzerland.

SingTel (Singapore): “Sorry but at this point, I’m not able to share any other information.” Apple’s Singapore page neither shows nor describes Visual Voicemail as a feature.

Softbank (Japan): “We are sorry but there is not any information about iPhone at this moment except sale date. When we [are] ready to inform, it will be released on our website.” Apple’s Japanese page shows and describes Visual Voicemail.

Optus (Australia): “Pricing and plans will be revealed a little closer to launch.” Apple’s Australian page includes an image of Visual Voicemail but no description.

Rogers Communications (Canada): “Details on features, price plans and retail availabilty will be made available at a later date. Stay tuned.” Apple’s Canadian web page includes a description and image for Visual Voicemail.

Additionally, Apple’s Mexico (America Movil), Hong Kong (Hutchison), and France (Orange) pages all describe and depict Visual Voicemail.

We will be updating this story as we receive more information.

AT&T: Only one iPhone 3G data plan; speeds ‘much faster’ [updated]

Following reader comments and questions, iLounge contacted AT&T to clarify ambiguous details on iPhone 3G service plans, which will be offered starting on July 11. We asked AT&T to clarify its stance on text messaging, which presently is included in AT&T’s $20 EDGE data plans for first-generation iPhones, but is not listed as an included feature in its $30 3G data service plan for iPhone 3G. Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media Relations with AT&T Mobility said only that the company would “discuss details of data pricing, including text messaging, closer to launch.” When asked if iPhone 3G users, such as those living outside 3G coverage areas, would be able to sign up for the prior EDGE-only data plan instead, Siegel told iLounge that “[t]here is one price for the data component,” suggesting that the $30 a month data charge will apply to all iPhone 3G users regardless of the available service in their immediate area. When asked about Apple’s claim that performance of the 3G iPhone would be roughly 3 times current EDGE speeds—significantly slower than the 3G network’s capabilities—Siegel also told us that “depending on the situation, the [3G] download speeds can be much faster than mentioned by Apple. I think they were simply being careful in what they said and not overstating a claim.” We will continue to track reader inquiries on these topics and follow up with AT&T leading up to the iPhone 3G launch.

Update: Asked if new AT&T customers will need to go through an in-store signup process, and if existing iPhone customers will need to go through the same process, Siegel responded simply: “Activation is in-store.”

AT&T confirms $30, $45 data plans for iPhone 3G

Replacing its $20 add-on iPhone EDGE network data plan, AT&T today announced that 3G data plans for the iPhone 3G will cost $30 per month for consumers and $45 for business users, in addition to the separate cost of any voice plan. The new pricing raises the minimum two-year cost of an AT&T data service contract from $480 to $720, with the business user plan costing $1,080 over two years, offsetting the apparent price drop of iPhone hardware from $399 to $199. AT&T’s new data service will enable U.S.-based iPhone users to achieve transfer speeds of roughly 2.8 times current EDGE speeds, slower than the faster 3G data speeds offered by other telecom companies; however, the plans will offer “unlimited” 3G data service use. AT&T will remain the exclusive service provider for iPhone hardware in the United States, initially offering its 3G services in 280 major U.S. markets, with a planned increase to 350 by year’s end. Full details are found in an AT&T iPhone 3G press release.

Apple posts ‘Hallway’ iPhone 3G TV ad

Apple has posted its new iPhone 3G TV advertisement, named “Hallway.” First shown during today’s WWDC keynote address, the ad features a spy theme, with a mysterious package being moved down a hallway, and opened up to reveal an iPhone 3G. The narration says: “It’s finally here: the first phone to beat the iPhone. It surfs the web and downloads data twice as fast, for half the price. Introducing the new iPhone 3G.” The video is available for viewing now on Apple’s web site.

Apple introduces next-generation iPhone 3G

Apple today introduced the long-awaited second-generation iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3G. The new phone features a glossy, full-plastic rear casing, which is thinner on the sides than the current version, metal buttons, and a flush headphone jack. As expected, the iPhone 3G retains the 3.5-inch touch screen of the original, and adds support for 3G wireless networking (tri-band HSDPA), as well as assisted GPS. According to Apple, the iPhone 3G offers 300 hours of standby time, 10 hours of 2G talk time, 5 hours of 3G talk time “versus 3-3.5 on competing products,” 5-6 hours of high-speed web browsing, 7 hours of video playback, and 24 hours of audio playback. The new iPhone 3G will be available in 70 countries later this year, beginning with customer availability in 22 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US—on July 11. It will sell for $199 for the 8GB model (black only) and $299 for the 16GB model (available in black or white).

“Just one year after launching the iPhone, we’re launching the new iPhone 3G that is twice as fast at half the price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone 3G supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync right out of the box, runs the incredible third party apps created with the iPhone SDK, and will be available in more than 70 countries around the world this year.”

 

Next iPhone to sell for $199 subsidized?

USA Today is reporting that the next iPhone, expected to be announced later today, will be available for $199 via a subsidy. Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the report does not provide any further details of the subsidy arrangement, beyond noting that the sources declined to be cited by name or affiliation because neither AT&T nor Apple has authorized anyone to speak publicly about pricing until after this afternoon’s announcement. According to the report, the next-generation iPhone will be in stores “beginning this summer.”

Telefónica’s Movistar to be sole iPhone carrier in Spain

Telefónica’s Movistar unit will be the sole carrier of the iPhone in Spain, according to Spanish press. Thomson Financial reports that the phone may be sold for under 100 euros with a contract of two to three years. The report also states the next-gen iPhone will offer a video camera and GPS, but this is likely unconfirmed speculation rather than fact. Yesterday, Telefónica confirmed that has reached an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in Spain “later this year.”

O2 planning iPhone upgrades, pay-as-you-go service

O2 is planning a series of promotions to boost sales of the next iPhone in the United Kingdom, according to Macworld UK. Citing unnamed sources, the report states that the device will cost £100 with an 18-month contract, or £269 contract-free for pay-as-you-go users. The new iPhone may be offered free to customers who sign up for the most expensive tariff, which is currently £75 per month, and may be offered as a free upgrade for existing iPhone customers who are willing to extend their contract by another 18 months.

SoftBank to carry iPhone in Japan

In a major but brief announcement, Japan’s SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone) has disclosed that it will offer the iPhone in Japan. According to a brief press release, the company said it “has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone to Japan later this year.” According to Reuters, SoftBank spokesman Fumihiro Ito could not provide further details on the deal, such as a release date or whether the company would be the exclusive carrier in Japan. A report placed SoftBank and Apple in a mobile phone partnership as early as May 2006, when a Japanese newspaper reported that the companies were working together to build a cell phone with iPod-like features and high-speed web connectivity. Also of interest is SoftBank’s reference to the name “iPhone,” which due to trademark concerns has remained uncertain as the product’s name in Japan.

Telefónica confirms Spanish iPhone deal

Telefónica has confirmed that it will offer the iPhone in Spain, two days after evidence of the deal appeared on its mobile unit website. The company’s press release (PDF link) states simply, “Telefónica has signed an agreement with Apple to sell iPhone in Spain. The iPhone will be launched later this year.” Earlier this week, a promotional page was discovered on the website of the company’s mobile unit, Movistar. The page originally provided a form to sign up to receive more information on the iPhone when it became available, but the form was quickly removed.

iPhone market share down in Q1

The iPhone saw its share of the U.S. smart phone market drop in the first quarter of 2008, according to an IDC vendor survey. After garnering a 26.7 percent share of the market in the fourth quarter of 2007, the iPhone took only 19.2 percent of the market in Q1 2008. Both BlackBerry maker RIM and Palm saw gains in the first quarter, with RIM going from 35.1 percent in Q4 ‘07 to 44.5 percent in Q1 ‘08, and Palm grabbing 13.4 percent in Q1, up from 7.9 percent in the prior quarter. IDC analyst Ramon Llamas suggests that RIM’s gains may be attributed to growth in the “prosumer” segment, while Palm’s gains came mostly from the strength of its Centro phone.

Movistar confirmed as iPhone carrier in Spain

A hidden page on the company’s website has confirmed that Telefónica’s Movistar will offer the iPhone in Spain. The page, which has since been removed, was discovered (Translated link) on Movistar’s site at the URL iphone.movistar.es, and displayed the number of users thus far signed up to receive more information on the iPhone when it becomes available. Telefónica exec José Santos Esteras previously said the company had negotiated an exclusive contract to offer the iPhone in Spain, with the exclusivity to be limited to three or six months.

Exhaustive Apple iPhone patent application appears

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has posted an extremely detailed Apple patent application pertaining to the iPhone. With Apple CEO Steve Jobs listed prominently among the patent’s inventors, the 371-page document details nearly every aspect of the iPhone’s graphical user interface, and mentions a variety of applications and features that have yet to appear in any iPhone model or software. Included in those are GPS functionality and applications for video conferencing, instant messaging, blogging, and a digital video camera app. While it is possible that some or all of the currently unused features could appear in a future model of the iPhone or in a software update, their appearance in the patent filing serves only as an example of Apple’s research in those areas.

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