Negotiations between Apple and China Mobile to offer the iPhone in China have failed, according to a new report. The Southern Daily newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reports that the two parties failed to reach an agreement due to differences over revenue sharing. China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou had previously said that the company was in talks to offer the iPhone in China, while warning that he disliked the revenue-sharing model Apple had used elsewhere. The report states that Apple now plans to open stores in Beijing next summer to sell iPhones directly, and is talks with other Chinese mobile phone distributors. Among those possible partners, China Unicom has expressed interest in carrying the device.
Update: Bloomberg reports that China Mobile has said it is still in discussions to offer the iPhone, denying that talks between the two companies have ended.
Speaking at a meeting of the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, California, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that Apple will bring out a version of the iPhone that runs on faster 3G data networks in 2008. “You’ll have it next year,” Stephenson said in response to a question on when the highly-anticipated device would debut. Previously, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that current 3G chips are too power-hungry to use in the device, calling them “real power hogs” in a news conference in London. “We’ve got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the five-plus hour range,” Jobs said. “Hopefully we’ll see that next year.” When asked, Stephenson said that he didn’t know how much the faster 3G iPhone will cost, saying that Jobs “will dictate what the price of the phone is.”
According to a BBC One report, salespeople at some Carphone Warehouse stores are misleading customers about insurance on the iPhone, and what might happen if they were to lose the device. Some customers reported that they were told if they lost their iPhone, they would have to buy an entirely new 18 month contract - at a minimum cost of £630. This is untrue — the customer would need to purchase a new iPhone, but the contract would carry over. In three out five Carphone stores visited by the BBC, their researchers were told the same thing. At another store, researchers were told that insurance offered by O2 shops was not as complete as the insurance offered by Carphone Warehouse, which is also untrue.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Carphone Warehouse offers its employees commission on every handset and insurance plan they sell. The retailer says that while there may be “some element of confusion among an isolated number of sales consultants,” it does not believe that the “small number of complaints” were “a fair reflection of the experience of thousands of iPhone customers who have received insurance advice in our stores”. Last year, Carphone Warehouse was fined £245,000 by the Financial Services Authority for breaking rules related to the sale of insurance.
France Telecom has announced that the French launch of the iPhone will be held at 12 of its Orange stores Wednesday night. Stores in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nancy, Nice, Nantes, Rennes, Strasbourg and Toulouse will be welcoming iPhone fans “from 6:30 p.m. onwards.” In Paris, the iPhone launch will be held at a new Orange store opening on Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The iPhone will sell for 399 euros when paired with one of four “Orange for iPhone” plans, which run from 49 to 119 euros a month. The phone will also be available for 549 euros for those who don’t want to switch to an “Orange for iPhone” plan, and will be priced at 649 euros plan-free. Orange also announced that it will unlock the handset for an additional 100 euros during the six months following the purchase of the phone. France Telecom chief Didier Lombard has previously said he expects to sell nearly 100,000 iPhones by the end of 2007, and in a separate statement said that his company expects to sell between 400,000 and 500,000 of the devices by the end of 2008. “That is the middle of the range of our forecasts,” Lombard said.
France Telecom’s Orange unit has said that it expects to sell nearly 100,000 iPhones by the end of 2007. In an interview with Europe 1 radio, France Telecom chief Didier Lombard predicted sales of 100,000 units by year’s end, while promising that Orange’s unlocked iPhone offering will be priced “significantly lower” than the 999€ T-Mobile in Germany is charging for the unlocked hardware. Lombard also revealed some tariff pricing details, saying that a 24-month contract would start at 49 euros a month including “two hours” of voice time and 50 text messages, and that the price would be 4.50 euros more per month for a 12-month contract, the minimum term available from Orange. Analysts, meanwhile, remain skeptic about the iPhone in Europe. Gontran Filet, a telecom industry consultant with Idate, said, “There’s an irrational side to a decision to buy an Apple trademarked iPhone which makes it difficult to predict sales.” The iPhone will launch in France on Thursday, November 29, and will sell for 399€.
A number of iPhone owners in the UK have posted reports of poor signal reception on the O2 network. A thread on Apple’s support forum on the topic is currently up to 130 replies, with users in various areas reporting problems. Apparently, placing the iPhone in its included Dock greatly improves reception, and the improvement occurs whether or not the Dock is connected to power. While some users have reported that their problems were fixed by performing a software restore, or by replacement units, there is currently no certain fix for the problem. [via InformationWeek]
Texterity, a publisher of digital magazines, has announced Release 1.0 of its digital magazine interface for the iPhone and iPod touch, featuring easier access, improved performance, and the ability to view pages and visit links of advertisers. Additional new features include convenient access to all magazines with a single browser window, full compatibility with the latest Safari browser, and enhanced functionality including full search, linking to websites, table of contents, send to a friend, and an easy way to subscribe to the magazines viewed. “Mobile delivery is one more way we help publishers attract new subscribers and generate results for their advertisers. As a publishing partner, it’s important that we not only lead the charge but push the envelope,” says Cimarron Buser, VP Marketing. “In this new release, we’ve also taken advantage of the power of styling abilities in the Safari browser to enhance performance and make the reader’s experience consistent with the iPhone model.” Texterity currently has 52 digital publications available through the interface, which can be accessed by visiting iphone.texterity.com/magazines/ from an iPhone or iPod touch.
In response to the court injunction obtained yesterday by Vodafone that prohibits T-Mobile from offering the iPhone as long as it is sold only in connection with a 24 month T-Mobile contract and/or is blocked in such a way that it can only be used in a T-Mobile network, T-Mobile has announced that it will offer an unlocked version of the phone in Germany, for the price of €999 (about $1478). It will also allow customers who purchased iPhones after Nov. 19 to unlock the device free of charge, although the company said that it will comply with the injunction until the situation has been clarified by a court — meaning that a removal of the injunction might lead to the end of unlocked iPhone sales as well.
The German unit of Vodafone has obtained a preliminary injunction against T-Mobile Germany prohibiting the carrier from selling iPhones that are locked to its network. The order was issued by a regional court in Hamburg, and its goal is to stop the sale of the iPhone if it is sold only in connection with a 24 month T-Mobile contract and/or is blocked in such a way that it can only be used in a T-Mobile network. A T-Mobile spokesperson has said the company plans to continue selling the device, stating that “The legal basis for the injunction is currently being examined.” The spokesman added that the company would decide on a reaction over the course of the day. In addition to the complaint from Vodafone, German telco operator Debitel also lodged a complaint over the T-Mobile iPhone deal. “It is not permissible to link the use of the iPhone exclusively to T-Mobile’s network,” a Debitel spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
A new study by User Centric, a Chicago-based usability consulting firm, claims that iPhone users make more typos than those using phones with full keyboards or phones with numeric keypads. Despite the extremely small sample size of only 20 users to a group, the researchers found that iPhone users entered text as quickly as their counterparts, but made significantly more errors — 5.6 per message, compared to 2.1 and 2.4 for full keyboard and numeric keypad users, respectively. The study also found that iPhone text input doesn’t improve with experience, by asking users in other groups to use the iPhone, and comparing their results against those of people who had owned the phone for at least a month. The report does not mention whether the texts sent in the study contained internet shorthand, such as “lol” or “rofl,” or whether the messages were in traditional English, which might favor the iPhone’s ability to try and recognize the words the user is attempting to type.
Apple has officially released version 1.1.2 of its software for the iPhone and iPod touch as an update through iTunes. According to notes provided with the release, the software “includes additional new features, bug fixes, and supersedes all previous versions.” Notably, the update adds support for international languages and networks to the iPhone, and the ability to add and edit calendar events to the iPod touch. The update was previously available as a direct download from Apple, in the form of a restore file, and came pre-installed on iPhones sold in the UK and Germany over the weekend. Despite this being its official release, hackers have already released a jailbreak for the 1.1.2 software, and others have noticed that it restores limited custom ringtone functionality when used with iTunes 7.5, although it is currently unknown whether this is intentional, or merely an error on Apple’s part. iPhone and iPod touch software version 1.1.2 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.
Peter Erskine, CEO of O2, has said that the iPhone “has been the fastest-selling device we have ever seen,” according to a Times report. Exact figures for the iPhone’s UK launch have yet to be released, with the Times claiming that Erskine said it had sold “in the tens of thousands,” while a CNN Money report states Erskine said it had sold “hundreds of thousands” of the devices since its Friday debut. Aside from the sales numbers, both reports indicate that “around two-thirds of iPhone customers are new to O2,” and that foot traffic through the operator’s stores has been better than expected.
Update: CNN Money has issued a correction to its report, reflecting the correct “tens of thousands” quote from Erskine.
The iPhone has officially launched in the UK, and iLounge editor Bob Levens was on hand for the event. According to Bob’s report, the line grew substantially between 5:00 p.m. and 6:02 p.m., from 5 to “approximately 30 people” with about 12 or so queuing outside a nearby Carphone Warehouse store. Interestingly, “some tension was displayed between the staff of the two stores as the CPW staff tried to entice people from the O2 queue to join their line.” It is worth noting that this was not the case with Apple and AT&T employees that we observed during the iPhone’s U.S. launch in June. Apparently few were standing in line just to look at the phone, as Bob said “hardly anyone went to look at the display table - they had obviously set their minds on having the iPhone and as the first purchase walked out of the store they were applauded by the O2 staff.”
Unexpectedly, Bob said that upon visiting another Carphone Warehouse store and examining one of the display iPhones, “it was noted that they were all 4GB iPhones - Apple had apparently shipped all the discontinued models to UK (and Europe?) as display models.” Continue reading for more pictures from the UK iPhone launch.
Update: Another report, submitted to us by macitynet.it, said that the crowd at Apple’s flagship Regent Street location in London was quite large, with companies such as Starbucks and PizzaExpress handing out coffee and pizza to those waiting in line. According to the report, around “800 to 1000 people were in line at 6:02 p.m. when the doors opened. Cloud (the Wifi provider that partnered with Apple and O2 in providing wireless connectivity in United Kingdom) distributed sponsored sweeters and gave away a check of 269 pounds (enough to cover the cost of the iPhone) and a bottle of champagne to the person or group of persons that have done the weirdest thing while waiting. The prize went to a guy that licked the pavement.” You can see pictures from the Regent Street launch in macitynet’s galleries, which can be found here and here.
The iPhone was released in Germany at 12:01 a.m. local time today, and our friends at iFun.de were on hand to provide picures and video from the event. Along with the iPhone, T-Mobile stores were also stocked with iPhone Stereo Headsets, Dock Connector to USB cables, and a handful of iAcc accessories including cases and car chargers. More photos from the event can be found in iFun’s Flickr set, and you can also find videos from the event, along with further details of the launch, in this article (Babel Fish translation).
The iPhone is also set to launch in the UK today, at 6:02 p.m. local time — the “02” is a reference to the iPhone’s exclusive UK carrier, O2. Apple’s Regent Street retail store has received a large shipment of the devices in preparation for the event, according to ifoAppleStore. O2 CEO Matthew Key has predicted that sales of the phone from Apple, O2, and Carphone Warehouse stores will total 200,000 by the end of the year. Previously, Carphone Warhouse said that it expects to sell 10,000 iPhones in the first 24 hours the handset is available.
Coinciding with today’s release of the iPhone in the United Kingdom and Germany, Apple today released version 1.1.2 of its software for both the iPhone and iPod touch. Most notably, the software adds international language and network support to the iPhone, and the ability to both add and edit calendar events to the iPod touch. Other changes have also been made, including the iPhone’s categorization of built-in and custom ringtones.
Prior to its availability in iTunes, the iPhone software can be downloaded here, and the iPod touch version here, both in ZIP archives. Using the ZIP file rather than decompressing it, you can install the software by selecting your iPhone or iPod touch from the Devices menu in iTunes, holding down the Option key when hitting the Restore Software button in iTunes, and selecting the IPSW.ZIP file. [via TUAW]
According to a Dow Jones report, Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann has said it’s possible that holiday-season demand for the iPhone may outpace supplies. “We’re not giving out precise forecasts,” Obermann said, “but registrations on our web site lead me to believe (the holiday shopping season) will be a strong sales period. The real question for me is whether we have enough devices and can meet customer demand.” Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile unit is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Germany. The iPhone will go on sale in the region at 12:01 a.m. local time tomorrow.
The first UK iPhones have arrived in the hands of journalists, who have reported that the devices are running a new version of the iPhone software — v1.1.2 — that disables jailbreak processes known to work on software version 1.1.1. According to T3, the new software closes the TIFF exploit found in software version 1.1.1 that is used to enable installation of third-party applications on the iPhone. Currently found only on UK iPhone models, it is expected that Apple will roll-out the update for US iPhones in the coming days, possibly as early as this week.
AT&T, possibly in response to user complaints over extremely high international data prices, has introduced two new international data plans for the iPhone. A $60/month plan offers 50MB of international EDGE data access, while a $25/month plan offers only 20MB. Both plans offer service in 29 countries, and require a domestic iPhone plan. In addition, overages will be charged 0.5¢ per kilobyte in those 29 countries, and 1¢ per kilobyte at all times outside of that area. AT&T advises users to check on international plans and rates before traveling. [via Infinite Loop]
In a recent note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he estimates AT&T is paying Apple an average of $18/month for each iPhone subscriber, or $432 over the course of a two-year contract. Munster revised his previous estimate of $6.50/month based on iPhone sales and revenue figures disclosed in Apple’s fourth quarter earnings report. Munster explained that he was surprised by the higher estimate, and said that it showed the importance of Apple’s efforts to keep the iPhone out of unlockers’ hands. Apple recently instituted a new iPhone purchase policy, limiting sales to two per person and barring cash sales in an effort to reduce the threat of unlockers. Based on the estimate, Muenster boosted his Apple 2009 revenue estimate to $42.8 billion, and raised his price target on Apple from $220 to $250.
Citizen:Citizen is now offering the ccPhone, a limited edition iPhone with a matte black finish, done by Colorware. The phone comes with a black dock, and selected artwork, video, music, and Citizen:Citizen‘s address book, which will be updated twice yearly. The ccPhone is available in a limited edition of 50 and sells for $2000.