New iPhone will hit Europe on July 11


LONDON -- Apple's next-generation iPhone with faster Internet access will go on sale across major markets in Europe on July 11 at a range of lower prices, operators said Tuesday.

Apple is changing the way it makes money on iPhones, and carriers may have to subsidize the phone to make it cheaper for consumers to buy -- meaning customers in some markets prepared to take on big monthly contracts could get it for free.

In the U.S., AT&T has already warned that these subsidies would hit earnings in 2008 and '09, but European carriers were making no comment on any earnings impact.

Deutsche Telekom AG said its mobile communication business T-Mobile will sell the new version of the phone in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands from July 11.

T-Mobile will also bring the phone to Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in the course of this year, though it said nothing on pricing.

A spokesman said T-Mobile had the exclusive rights to the new phone in Germany and the Netherlands, confirming what two sources familiar with the matter earlier told Reuters.

Telefonica, which also said nothing specific on its pricing plans, will sell the phone in Spain, while its O2 unit will also sell it in Ireland and (with mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse) in Britain.

Apple's improved iPhone, which runs on a so-called third-generation (3G) networks offering faster data speeds, will sell for as little as $199 in the U.S. -- half the current entry-level price.

In Britain, consumers subscribing to big monthly plans will get the phone for free.

Anyone in the U.K. wanting the iPhone with 8 gigabytes of storage capacity can pay 99 pounds ($194) with a monthly tariff of 30 or 35 pounds, or can sign up for the more expensive 45 and 75 pound tariff and will be given the phone without charge.

The first edition of the 8GB iPhone had cost 269 pounds when it initially went on sale in Britain.

"The demand for the first iPhone was huge and we're preparing for another milestone with the 3G version," Carphone Chief Executive Charles Dunstone said.

The new iPhone will be accompanied by support for corporate e-mail and a slate of new programs that could help boost sales of the devices, which sport a touch-sensitive screen, wireless Internet access and iPod-style media functions.

Spain's Telefonica said the device would go on sale on July 11 in more than 1,000 outlets as it tries to boost its number of 3G customers.

The former Spanish state monopoly is expected soon to unveil price details and media reports say the company will include deals starting at below 100 euros ($156).

Telefonica will be the only operator to offer the iPhone in Spain as competitors Vodafone Group Plc. and Orange have decided not to market the device.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone group by revenue, will sell the phone in Australia, Italy, New Zealand and Portugal on July 11 and in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, India, South Africa and Turkey this year.

Vodafone did not give any pricing details but said it would be available on both prepay and contract price plans.

India's top mobile operator Bharti Airtel also will sell it in India this year.
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