updated 02:45 pm EDT, Fri August 17, 2007
Vodafone iPhone Deal Soon
Apple and Vodafone are in the final stages of negotiating a deal to provide the iPhone in Europe, says an anonymous but reportedly well-informed source. The two companies are claimed to be ready to introduce their deal within the next two weeks but still have software bugs and other technical details to address before the cellphone can be introduced to the public. The formal introduction may take place significantly in advance of actual shipments, according to the report, though the purported insider would not say when the phone would be in stores or whether pricing had been established.
At least some of the issues relate to the iPhone's software support for not just Vodafone but also other European carriers and Apple's initial partner AT&T, the source indicates. Vodafone in particular would like Apple to refine significant portions of its interface beyond what shipped with the device in June. The international carrier would like Apple to code its YouTube suite to more closely resemble the traditional website; also said to be important are better compatibility with Exchange calendars and e-mail, Cisco VPN routers, and additions to the web browser such as cut-and-paste text editing.
No information was provided as to whether or not the lack of one or more of these features would bar Apple from completing the deal, though multiple providers consider the Exchange support essential to expanding the phone's appeal to business users. Apple is already known to be testing international iPhones regardless of their readiness for final use.
Vodafone has frequently been the subject of speculation for a European iPhone debut, having initially denied claims but then been inaccurately pinpointed as announcing its plans as early as mid-July. Company chief Arun Sarin recently complimented the device but said 3G-class Internet access would be necessary for the phone to truly be accepted in Europe, where HSDPA and faster versions of UMTS provide much faster cellular broadband than the EDGE from AT&T's network.
A contract with Vodafone would nonetheless be crucial to pan-European availability, as the provider covers the largest number of countries. Unintentional leaks have virtually confirmed that Apple will rely on T-Mobile in Germany, while previous claims have tentatively identified Orange as the provider for France and O2 for the United Kingdom.