The Rural Cellular Association plans to file a petition with the FCC calling for an investigation into exclusivity deals used by large wireless providers to secure rights to carry certain cellular phones. According to the Wall Street Journal, the group represents about 80 small and rural wireless companies, most with fewer than 500,000 customers. Using the iPhone as an example, the complaint states that most Vermont residents, as well as those in rural areas of 15 other states, can’t use Apple’s handset because AT&T offers only roaming coverage in those areas, and other carriers which do offer service can’t sell the iPhone. CITA spokesperson Joseph Farren argues that “When you look at the number of handsets available in the U.S. compared to Europe we’re far ahead,” adding that since consumers have so many choices, there is no need for an FCC ban on exclusive deals. [via CNET]
Speaking at the Reuters Technology, Media, and Telecoms Summit in Paris, T-Mobile Chief Executive Hamid Akhavan said that he expects the iPhone to remain exclusive to T-Mobile in Germany. “We have a very good relationship with Apple…at least in Germany it is exclusive, and we expect it to remain as such,” Akhavan said, adding, “If and when there is a 3G iPhone we expect to have it exclusively in Germany as well.” T-Mobile has been the device’s carrier in both Germany and Austria, however, last week Orange announced an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in Austria alongside T-Mobile, raising questions about the company’s exclusivity arrangements.
Telefónica’s Movistar has reportedly reached an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in Spain. According to a report by technology blog Sevenclick, Telefónica executive José Santos Esteras confirmed at the Professional Communications Congress that the company has an exclusive contract to offer the iPhone in Spain. Daniel Pujol of Orange added that the exclusivity is limited to three or six months. Telefónica Europe CEO Matthew Key recently stated the Telefónica Group would make a joint announcement with Apple in the “coming weeks.” [via AppleInsider]
Orange, the iPhone’s carrier in France, today announced a new agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in a host of other countries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Specific countries include Austria, where T-Mobile Germany already offers the handset, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the company’s African markets. According to the announcement, Orange will begin offering the iPhone in these countries “later this year.”
Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann has said the company’s T-Mobile Germany has so far sold more than 100,000 iPhones in the country. The company last reported sales of 70,000 iPhones at the end of January, meaning around 30,000 units have been sold from February on. Hamid Akhavan, Deutsche Telekom’s board member at T-Mobile, had previously told Dow Jones Newswires that sales figures for the iPhone were “in line” with expectations, and that the recent price drop had spurred sales. In April, T-Mobile Germany began offering 8GB iPhones at reduced prices when purchased with a 24-month contract, bringing the price of the handset down to as little as €99.
Speaking at an Intel event in Munich, Intel Germany CEO Hannes Schwaderer has said that Apple will unveil two different iPhone devices (Translated link) at its Worldwide Developer Conference, according to ZDNet.de. One model is said to have a larger form factor, a 720x480 screen, and an Intel Atom chip as its main processor, while the other is reportedly similar in size to the current iPhone, but with 3G capabilities. Schwaderer said that the Atom-powered version of the iPhone would be larger not due to the chip’s size, but due to its use of the higher-resolution screen. Apple CEO Steve Jobs will make his keynote address to kick-off WWDC at 10:00 a.m. on June 9. [via Mac Rumors]
Update: Intel has issued a disclaimer (Translated link) regarding Schwaderer’s remarks, saying the CEO made “only general remarks about possible mobile Internet DEVICE (MIDs) and did not speculate upon future iPhone models,” adding that the iPhone was only mentioned as an example of such a device. Intel press spokesman Mike Cato told ZDNet.de, “Intel knows nothing about future products of other manufacturers and can therefore about it also nothing say.”
CEO of O2 parent Telefónica Europe Matthew Key has said the 3G iPhone will be announced in “the coming weeks.” Speaking after the announcement of O2’s first quarter results, Key was asked when the 3G iPhone would be available. He said: “That’s more of a question for Apple ... but over the coming weeks we will do a joint announcement with Apple as Telefónica Group.” O2 has already sold out of the current 8GB model iPhone, and has a “multi-year” exclusivity deal to offer the iPhone in both the UK and Ireland.
Swisscom has confirmed in a message on its website that it will carry the iPhone in Switzerland. A recent report suggested the company had reached an agreement with Apple to offer the phone, but nothing official had yet been announced. Swisscom’s message reads: “Swisscom is launching iPhone in Switzerland. The iPhone will be available later this year. We will inform you personally as soon as we have more news.” Below the message is a “Register here” link where users can register to receive more iPhone information when it becomes available. Swisscom is the largest mobile carrier in Switzerland with 5.1 million subscribers (Translated link). [via setteB.IT]
Google has released a new beta version of its Reader application designed for the iPhone and other mobile devices with advanced browsers. According to the official Google Reader Blog, the new version is designed to offer many of the same features as the desktop version, while allowing users to read, share, star, and toggle unread status all from a single view, and without needing to reload the page. To access the new beta version of Google Reader for iPhone, visit google.com/reader/i/ from an iPhone or iPod touch.
A drop-down menu of devices on AT&T’s customer website shows a new “iPhone Black” model alongside a listing for the current iPhone. The menu is visible from the Phone/Device selection screen in the Online Account Management area of the carrier’s website. While no device with that name has been announced, the appearance of the listing does lend credence to prior reports that the next-generation iPhone would be available with a black casing. [via AppleInsider]
A Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) executive has claimed that a 3G-capable version of the iPhone will be on sale in Italy in June, according to an Electronics Weekly report. Speaking to EW’s David Manners, Luigi Licciardi, executive vice president of technology and operations with TIM, said, “We will be selling an iPhone with 3G capability next month.” In the same report, Manners describes a conversation he had with a Vodafone spokesperson, who declined to confirm that the carrier would indeed be offering the 3G iPhone in the ten countries announced last week, indicating that the handset covered by the agreement was simply “an iPhone device.” Both Vodafone and TIM have announced agreements to offer the iPhone in Italy later this year. [via Wired]
The first-generation iPhone is now listed as “Currently Unavailable” on Apple’s Online Store in both the United States and the United Kingdom. This news comes after a week which saw the introduction of more than 20 international iPhone carriers which will offer the iPhone later this year, and comes amidst iPhone sellouts at UK iPhone carrier O2 and retailer Carphone Warehouse stores. The stores, which have been sold out of 8GB iPhones since April, recently ran out of the 16GB model as well, and were unsure whether they would receive more supply. Apple has yet to make any announcement regarding the lack of availability.
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), Bharti Airtel, Globe Telecom, and SingTel subsidiary Optus have announced they have reached deals with Apple to offer the iPhone in their respective markets later in 2008. SingTel will offer the phone in Singapore, Bharti Airtel in India, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, and Optus in Australia. The announcement of Bharti in India and Optus in Australia also makes these the second and third confirmed non-exclusive iPhone country carriers, behind Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, as Vodafone will offer the handset in all three markets later this year. StarHub, Singapore’s second-largest telecom firm behind SingTel, said it expects all three mobile operators in the area — SingTel, StarHub and MobileOne — to be offering the phone by the end of the year.
Citing a source within Swisscom, a new report (Translated link) from French-language Le Martin Online indicates the company has reached an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in Switzerland later this summer. With over five million subscribers, Swisscom is the country’s largest mobile carrier; a prior report indicated there are already over 34,000 active iPhones operating in Switzerland.
Following the brief appearance of “Free AT&T Wi-Fi for iPhone” pages at some AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots, the US iPhone carrier has officially listed Wi-Fi access as being included with iPhone rate plans. The company’s iPhone web site now states “Plans start at $59.99 and include Visual Voicemail, Unlimited Data (email and web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T’s more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, including Starbucks* all for use in the U.S. *Wi-Fi available at U.S. company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hotspot.” An AT&T representative had previously declined to comment on the appearance of the free Wi-Fi pages, but it now appears an official announcement on the service is imminent. [via Mac Rumors]
Update: Following the publication of this news, AT&T removed all mention of the Wi-Fi service from the iPhone site.
América Móvil, the largest mobile network operator in Latin America with more than 150 million subscribers, has said it will sell the iPhone across the region later this year, according to a Reuters report. Subsidiaries of Móvil include Telcel in Mexico, Claro in Brazil, Chile, and other nations, Comcel Colombia in Columbia, and Porta in Ecuador. This news follows a string of international iPhone announcements, which have Vodafone offering the handset in ten different countries and TIM offering the phone alongside Vodafone in Italy, marking the first non-exclusive iPhone country carrier. [via Fortune]
France Telecom, the parent company of French iPhone carrier Orange, is in talks with Apple to sell the handset in other countries. France Telecom CFO Gervais Pellissier said the company is negotiations regarding “more than just two countries” when asked whether the company was hoping to secure iPhone deals for Spain and Poland. “It’s in discussion…we’ll see what the results are,” he said. Pellissier also said France Telecom was pleased with the success of its deal with Apple thus far, and that he expects the 3G iPhone to boost sales in France, where the company has exclusive rights for another two and a half years.
Apple plans to begin selling the upcoming 3G iPhone in some European countries by or before August, according to a New York Times report. Citing a person close to the situation, the article starts with an August target date for the release, then states that Apple wants to start selling the 3G version of the iPhone in Europe before August, when many Europeans take their summer holidays. The use of both “by” and “before” in the article makes it unclear whether Apple plans to have the 3G iPhone on the market in Europe by the beginning of August, or plans to launch the handset earlier. An Apple spokesperson contacted for the report confirmed the now-official iPhone sales arrangements with Vodafone and TIM in Italy, but declined to comment on whether Vodafone had received exclusivity in other countries, leaving the door open for more multi-carrier arrangements. Earlier today, Vodafone announced that it would offer the iPhone in ten countries by the end of 2008.
As previously noted, Italian cellular provider Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) has confirmed in a press release that it will offer the iPhone in Italy later this year—a significant announcement given that TIM will become the first non-exclusive iPhone country carrier, as Vodafone will also offer the iPhone in Italy by the end of the year. The press release reads simply, “Telecom Italia announced today it has signed a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Italy later this year.” Reports suggesting TIM as the iPhone’s carrier in Italy date back to the release of iPhone Software Version 1.1.2, in which a file named “TIM_Italy.plist” appeared. It was followed by a similarly-named carrier bundle which appeared in software 1.1.3. The Apple, TIM, and Vodafone deals may pave the way for more multi-carrier deals in other foreign markets.
Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, has announced that it’s signed an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in 10 of its markets starting later in 2008. Vodafone will offer the phone in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, and Turkey. In a separate announcement, Telecom Italia also said it will sell the iPhone in Italy by the end of the year, making it the first country to be officially announced with no carrier exclusivity agreement in place, a change from Apple’s past iPhone business model. “This is definitely a sign Apple is capitulating,” Will Draper, an analyst at Execution, said. “The initial model was that Apple would give the iPhone to a network on an exclusive basis, but in Europe, where you have the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson selling sophisticated 3G devices, the iPhone simply isn’t seen as such a premium product.” The ten countries named in the announcement represent a total population of more than 1.4 billion people.