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Analyst: 3G iPhone definitely coming very soon

Posted: 13 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3G? Apple iPhone? 3G version coming?

There is no doubt a 3G version of the Apple iPhone is in the wings and it could be announced soon, according to wireless chip and DSP sector analyst Will Strauss of Forward Concepts.

There is also speculation that Apple will announce the W-CDMA 3G-capable version of the phone when it finally reveals which operators it has chosen for the European launch of the handset.

An announcement is expected imminently, and could come as soon as this week.

Whether the iPhone's 3G baseband chip would also include the higher-speed HSDPA capability for the next release is uncertain, according to Strauss.

Another win for Infineon?
"We have, however, confirmed that Infineon Technologies is producing UMTS baseband chips for at least two cellphone companies, and Infineon is also the only non-captive source for W-CDMA/UMTS transceiver chipsand also the biggest producer of GSM/GPRS transceivers, with a third of the world market last yearsaid Strauss.

Infineon already supplies the EDGE baseband and associated RF transceiver for the existing 2G version of the iPhone that is being sold in the United States through AT&T Wireless.

Strauss also suggests that there is significant intellectual property from InterDigital Communications in the 3G iPhone baseband chip likely to be manufactured by Infineon.

He notes that last week Interdigital Inc. and its subsidiaries, including InterDigital Communications LLC, signed a worldwide, non-transferable, non-exclusive, fixed-fee royalty-bearing patent license agreement with Apple.

Under the seven-year license agreement, InterDigital granted a license to Apple under InterDigital's patent portfolio covering "the current iPhone and certain future mobile phones, if any."

Meanwhile, it seems certain that Vodafone has lost out, probably to Telefonica subsidiary O2, for the rights to distribute the iPhone in the United Kingdom.

Stealing Apple's thunder
On Sept. 10, Vodafone launched an unlimited music download service dubbed MusicStation, trying to steal Apple's thunder in Europe about the music-playing capabilities of the iPhone. MusicStation has a library of over 1 million tracks from major music publishers and will be available for download to about 75 percent of Vodafone's current handsets.

Also over the weekend, in an interview with the Sunday Times Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, referring to the existing iPhone, said: "It's a 2G phone, not 3G. When it's a broadband phone we will be interested in carrying it."

The speculation still persists that France Telecom subsidiary Orange will win the rights to sell the iPhonewhether 2G- or 3G-capable at launchin France, while T-Mobile will get the nod in Germany.

However, in an unusual arrangement, all European operators will have to share revenues of as much as 10 percent with Apple for both voice and data usage.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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