rumours continue to filter in about Apple’s imminent European iPhone launch. Reuters rounds up the speculation: Spanish Telefonica’s O2 unit is expected to sell the phone in the U.K., Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile in Germany, and France Telecom’s Orange in France. Apple has scheduled a press event for London next Tuesday, but it’s not clear if they will announce only the U.K. deal or also deals for other European countries.
Selling the iPhone in those three countries expands Apple’s addressable market by more than 60%. Research firm M:Metrics estimates 45 million mobile subscribers in the U.K., 46.5 million in Germany and 44.5 million in France (vs. 213 million in the U.S.).
The European mobile market is much different than ours: pre-paid plans are more common, phones are rarely subsidized, and Europeans have long used phones to listen to music. That could mean either higher sales (because people are used to spending more money on unsubsidized phones and using their phone as a primary music device), or lower sales (because people don’t feel the need to replace their existing music phones). We think the iPhone will continue to sell better in the U.S., where Apple is a more important brand than in Europe. And we hope the company will take the opportunity to upgrade the European model to work with faster, “3G” data networks. But either way, Apple should soon get some much-needed help toward its goal of selling 9 million more iPhones by the end of next year.