Apple signed IPhone agreements with O2, T-Mobile & Orange

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Apple Inc. signed agreements with three mobile-phone operators that will have exclusive rights to sell its new iPhone in Europe, the Financial Times reported, without giving the source of the information.

T-Mobile of Germany, Orange in France and O2 in the UK each will give Apple Inc.'s 10% of sales from phone calls and data transfers made over the devices, the Times said. The agreements would give Apple CEO Steve Jobs his first overseas foothold for the iPhone, which went on sale in the US June 29. For the operators, the deals may help them add and retain customers who spend more on features such as Internet downloads and music.

The carriers will announce the partnerships for the iPhone, a combination iPod music player and mobile phone, at the IFA trade fair in Berlin at the end of August, the Times reported. If 10% is correct, it would be in line or slightly above estimates for Apple’s deal with AT&T Inc. in the US, UBS AG analyst Ben Reitzes said in note after the Financial Times’ report. Apple’s shares have increased 50% this year. T-Mobile is a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, France Telecom SA owns Orange and O2 is a unit of Spain’s Telefonica SA.

Jobs, 52, expects the handset to become Apple’s third main business, alongside the Mac and iPod. Once focused only on personal computers, Apple released the iPod media player in 2001, a product that has sold almost 110 million units. Apple may sell more than 800,000 iPhones this quarter, beating the company’s goal of 730,000, as consumer demand for the device stays strong, Reitzes said earlier today. Apple said last month it expects to sell 1 million iPhones by the end of this quarter.

Jobs has a goal of selling 10 million iPhones next year, capturing 1% of the mobile-phone market by taking customers from Nokia Oyj, Motorola Inc., Palm Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook said in July that iPhone sales would begin in a „few major countries” in Europe before year’s end. Reitzes expects sales to start in December in the UK, France and Germany. (Bg, Financial Times)

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