Apple, T-Mobile strike iPhone deal in Germany

A day after announcing a Nov. 9 launch for its iPhone in the U.K., Apple Inc. Wednesday said it will debut the smart phone in Germany on the same day.

Apple's wireless partner in Germany will be Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile International AG unit. "We're thrilled to be partnering with T-Mobile to bring the iPhone to Germany," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement.

The 8GB iPhone will be sold in Deutsche Telekom retail stores, the T-Mobile online shop and Apple's own e-store starting Nov. 9 for €399 (US$556), including value-added tax. The price in the U.S. is $399, sales tax not included. On Tuesday, Jobs pegged the price of the iPhone in the U.K. at £269, or about $537.

Unlike the announcement in the U.K., however, where carrier partner Telefonica O2 Europe PLC spelled out iPhone plan prices, T-Mobile only said that its plan or plans -- dubbed "tariffs" in Europe -- will come with two-year contracts. Monthly rates and plan specifics won't be unveiled until shortly before the iPhone goes on sale, T-Mobile CEO Hamid Akhavan told reporters this morning in Berlin.

German customers will have to make do with the same iPhone that debuted in the U.S. in June. Apple said the device will connect to an Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) network when outside the range of a Wi-Fi hot spot. EDGE, sometimes called 2.5G, is slower than the 3G (third-generation) wireless data networks that are more common in Europe than in the U.S.

T-Mobile said it will deploy EDGE throughout its German coverage areas by the end of this year but did not say what portion would be ready by the Nov. 9 launch. Nor did T-Mobile say whether its Wi-Fi hot-spot network -- the company has some 8,600 hot spots in Germany alone -- will be available free of charge to iPhone users.

T-Mobile International and T-Mobile USA Inc. did not respond to questions about its tariff plans and EDGE coverage.

Speculation had fingered T-Mobile as the most likely exclusive iPhone carrier in Germany. In France, which hasn't been visited yet by Jobs on his multicountry tour, pundits have been putting money on Orange PLC, the wireless arm of France Telecom, as the probable partner.

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