updated 11:15 am EDT, Wed May 14, 2008
Telefonica iPhone Soon
Telefonica Europe chief Matthew Key today said that his company would make a joint announcement with Apple regarding the iPhone within weeks, hinting at a near term launch for an anticipated 3G upgrade to the cellphone. Key, whose telecoms group operates O2 in Ireland, the UK, and other countries, hasn't directly confirmed the device when asked about its existence but alludes to both its release and a possible expansion of service beyond just the O2 brand.
The timing of a 3G iPhone launch is "more of a question for Apple," he says. "But over the coming weeks we will do a joint announcement with Apple as Telefónica Group."
Telefonica offers cellular service under its own name in its home of Spain as well as in Argentina and Chile, and also operates the Movistar brand in multiple Latin American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Beyond the two English-speaking European countries, O2 in turn operates out of Germany as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The allusions point to a much wider worldwide launch for the iPhone than already referenced to date. The existing launch includes more than 30 carriers split between multinationals America Movil, SingTel, and Vodafone, as well as one-nation providers such as Rogers and just-announced partner Swisscom.
The launch is unlikely to involve the existing iPhone. All 8GB models are currently sold out with O2, Carphone Warehouse, and Apple's online store, while 16GB models show intermittent availability. Observers expect Apple to entirely replace one or both versions with a 3G model in part due to a greater dependence on the faster cellular data by the British and other Europeans, who use it for video calling, media downloads, and frequent web access.