German Firm Confirms iPhone Talks

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Deutsche Telekom AG is in talks with Apple Inc. about selling the iPhone in Germany and expects the U.S. company to announce its German distribution partner soon, a senior executive said Wednesday in Berlin.

"We have held talks with Apple but have nothing more to say at this time," Hamid Akhavan, CEO of the German telco's mobile phone subsidiary T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG, said at a news conference ahead of the IFA consumer electronics show, which opens Friday.

Akhavan said he expects Apple to announce its European partners "well ahead" of the important holiday shopping season.

Discussion of the iPhone's arrival in Europe intensified following a report in the Financial Times last week about a deal between Apple and mobile phone operators in three key European markets: Germany's T-Mobile, France's Orange SA and Britain's O2 (UK) Ltd.

Rumors have been swirling that Apple plans to announce one or more European partners at the IFA event.

Apple has not provided details about its iPhone strategy in Europe, other than to say it plans to launch the device later this year.

Akhavan was asked about the iPhone during a question-and-answer session with journalists at the news conference, which was called by T-Mobile to make a variety of announcements, including word of its MyFaves service.

T-Mobile plans to launch the service developed by its U.S. subsidiary, in Germany in October, with the U.K. and Czech Republic to follow some time in the fourth quarter. The service, which has attracted more than 2.5 million users in the U.S., allows customers to make inexpensive calls and send text messages to five selected numbers.

Users of the MyFaves service in Germany will pay a base fee of ,15 (US$20) per month and ,0.05 per call or SMS (Short Message Service) to the selected users, regardless of the network, whether mobile or fixed, T-Mobile or a competitor. MyFaves users making or receiving calls outside of Germany must pay roaming fees, however.

"This cross-net offer is unique in Europe, and we expect it to attract lots of users," Akhavan said. More than two-thirds of mobile phone calls are made to the same five people, he said.

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