Sure They’re Not Clearing the Decks for the New Nokia Clamshell?
As the anniversary of the iPhone’s market debut approaches, the Mac faithful are quickly succumbing to Apple (AAPL) Rumor Seasonal Affective Disorder, an ailment most often associated with the lead-up to Macworld.
Fueling that trend today is a memo, purportedly leaked from inside AT&T (T), instructing employees not to schedule any vacation between June 15 and July 12 to ensure sufficient staffing for “an exciting Summer Promotional Launch.” This, of course, is being taken as proof positive that the 3G iPhone will arrive at market sometime during that timeframe. And for good reason, AT&T issued a similar mandate last year prior to the iPhone’s official debut.
Meanwhile, Vodafone (VOD) and Telecom Italia (TI-A) said today that they’d both won contracts to bring the iPhone to Italy this year, the first time Apple has allowed two mobile carriers to distribute the device in a single country.
An interesting bit of news and one that lends some validity to recent reports that Apple is stepping back from the exclusive iPhone distribution arrangements it’s been inking to spur iPhone growth abroad. “Apple’s either turned a corner that they’ve had to turn, or that they’ve chosen to,” Technology Business Research’s Ezra Gottheil said of the Vodafone and Telecom Italia deals. “I don’t know if they prefer the exclusivity, and the revenue sharing that goes along with it, or just prefer to sell iPhones and grow their share of the [handset] market.”