Vodaphone front-runner for Euro iPhone

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: The iPhone's making a splash in the U.S. today, after six months of hype. It's a big day for Apple, and for AT&T, the phone's exclusive carrier in the U.S. Apple wants to sell 10 million iPhones worldwide by 2008.

But in Europe the company doesn't have a wireless a partner — yet. Elizabeth Judge is telecoms correspondent with the Times of London. Elizabeth, you've reported on intense negotiations between Apple and the major mobile companies in Europe.

Elizabeth Judge:All of the main European operators are desperately keen to get their hands on this — they've been in intense negotiations for many months. And as the U.S. launch happens, these negotiations are reaching a climax in Europe. You know, Apple wants to launch it here by the end of this year, and in order to do that, they will need to secure a deal with one of the networks pretty soon.

Krizner: Is there a front-runner at this point?

Judge:At this point, Vodaphone, our sources are telling us, is the front-runner. This is partly because of its sheer size and scale and spending power. It's an $88-billion market cap company, and it has the spending power its rivals lack. At the same time, its chief executive, Arun Sarin, is known to have a good relationship with the Apple chief executive and had private talks about this. So, we know they're pushing hard for a deal, and it looks like the money's on them getting it.

Krizner: What about T-Mobile? You've got to believe a company like that is not going to take this lying down.

Judge: Oh, no, sure — all of the rivals are going to put up a fierce fight. They're not going to let Vodaphone get it without a fight. And partly that's because they stand to gain more from this. You know, the smallest player in the U.K. market (is) T-Mobile, and it would mean a lot for them to associate themselves with the Apple brand and the lust that it has.

Krizner: Elizabeth Judge — she is telecoms correspondent for the Times of London. Thanks very much for joining us.

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