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AT&T chief lets slip plan for faster iPhone

30 ноября 2007

Apple plans to unveil a new version of its iPhone handset next year with faster download speeds, according to Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T, Apple’s US mobile partner.

Asked at a dinner in Silicon Valley when customers could expect Apple to launch a faster, 3G version of the iPhone, Mr Stephenson said “you’ll have it next year”. He declined to provide further details.AT&T chief lets slip plan for faster iPhone

News of a faster iPhone comes at an awkward time for Apple. With the Christmas shopping season now under way and just weeks after the iPhone’s European debut, some analysts said there was a risk premature disclosure could alienate customers and stifle sales of existing handsets that run on slower 2.5G networks.

“It’s a pretty stupid move,” said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, the market research company. “One big complaint about the iPhone is the [slower 2.5G] network. Now Stephenson’s said they’re going to have a higher-speed network next year. People are going to wait.”

“If I were Steve Jobs, I’d be very annoyed,” Mr Baker added.

Others analysts were less sure it would hit sales.

“If he’d have said ‘next year as in next January’ I think it would have had a bigger impact,” said Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter Research. “In the absence of details, I don’t think it’s going to matter that much to consumers.”

In the long run, industry-watchers agreed that the launch of a 3G iPhone would open up opportunities for Apple.

“In the longer term, having a truly capable 3G phone is good for them,” said Barry Jaruzelski, a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. “It dramatically expands the iPhone's market and relative competitiveness, particularly in Europe.”

Steve Jobs earlier this year said issues with battery life had prevented Apple from launching a 3G iPhone. He indicated that the battery life issue could be solved by late next year.

Apple said: “We do not comment on future product direction.”

Analysts said Mr Stephenson’s remarks underscored the challenges faced by Apple in managing its partnerships with mobile operators, who do not necessarily share the culture of secrecy about new products Apple traditionally maintains in order to generate buzz among consumers.

Apple’s shares rose 2.7 per cent to $185 by late afternoon in New York on Thursday, while shares of AT&T rose 1.6 per cent to $38.11.

Источник: Financial Times

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