With the addition of Austria and Ireland, Apple’s iPhone is available in almost every big European market except Spain and Italy. What’s the holdup? One guess: Steve Jobs doesn’t want to launch in those countries until he has a 3G version of the iPhone to sell.
Why wait? Because Spain and Italy have higher uptake of 3G phones than the U.K., France, and Germany. So in Spain and Italy, Apple’s current iPhone, which uses a much slower, “EDGE” network for mobile Internet access, might not be as big a hit.
In Spain, 33.4% of the 33.5 million wireless subscribers have 3G phones, according to research firm M:Metrics. In Italy, 36.3% of its 46.4 million wireless subs have 3G devices. That’s way more than the other iPhone countries: France (15.4% of 45.5 million subs), Germany (20.1% of 48.5 million subs), the U.K. (24.3% of 46.5 million subs), and the U.S. (24.8% of 219 million subs).
When will Apple (AAPL) start selling the 3G iPhone? Our guess is in June, when Apple plans to roll out the “iPhone 2.0” software update, which adds business-friendly features and official third-party software apps. That would be a good time to update the phone’s hardware features and launch some new countries — all of which will help the company reach its goal of selling 10 million iPhones this year.