A report out of Italy Monday suggests that Apple is planning to revamp its business model with the launch of the iPhone in that country.
It's always tough to correctly interpret translations, but check out the report from La Repubblica and read it for yourself. In short, the report claims that Apple is getting ready to launch a 3G iPhone in Italy with Telecom Italy, and that the carrier will not have to pay Apple a share of the data revenue earned from iPhone users, nor will it have an ongoing exclusive. As a result, the iPhone will be more expensive there than in other countries.
So far, Apple has cut exclusive deals with four carriers to sell the iPhone: AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K, T-Mobile in Germany, and Orange in France. In exchange for their exclusive right to distribute the iPhone, those carriers give Apple a share of their data revenues earned over the life of the contract, believed to be around $18 a month per user in AT&T's case.
It's long been thought, however, that at some point Apple would have to open up the iPhone to other carriers to increase the size of the official market for the device. After all, tons of iPhones are already being used unofficially across the world, with more than 400,000 in China alone. In February, Apple COO Tim Cook suggested the company was open to cutting iPhone deals with more than one carrier per country.
Telecom Italy's supposed agreement with Apple is not exclusive per se, but the carrier will have an "advantage" of several months over its competitors, according to the report. I wonder if several such agreements are being readied ahead of the expected launch of the 3G iPhone in June.