Apple to Unveil Faster IPhone, AT&T's Stephenson Says (Update2)
By Crayton Harrison
Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. will introduce a version of the iPhone next year that can download from the Internet at a faster rate, AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said.
The device will operate on third-generation wireless networks, Stephenson said today at a meeting of the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, California. San Antonio-based AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S.
``You'll have it next year,'' Stephenson said in response to a question about when the 3G iPhone would debut. He said he didn't know how much more the new version will cost than the existing model, which sells for $399. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs ``will dictate what the price of the phone is,'' he said.
Jobs plans to sell 10 million iPhones worldwide in 2008, which would give Cupertino, California-based Apple 1 percent of the mobile-phone market. Apple had sold 1.4 million handsets through the end of September.
The prospect of a new handset may make some shoppers put off buying an iPhone this year, Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. in Minneapolis, said in an e-mail. The number of shoppers who delay a purchase won't be ``enough to make a difference,'' he said. Munster has advised buying Apple shares since June 2004.
The device, which combines features of an iPod music player with a mobile handset, can download videos from Google Inc.'s YouTube and find driving directions over a wireless connection. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris declined to comment.
Jobs said in September that the iPhone's battery life would be too short if it supported faster networks. The handset has eight hours of battery life, and 3G chips are ``real power hogs,'' he said at a news conference in London.
``We've got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the five-plus-hour range,'' he said. ``Hopefully we'll see that late next year.''
AT&T, owner of the largest U.S. mobile-phone service, is using the iPhone to lure customers from its closest rival, Verizon Wireless, which announced a plan this week to open its network to any phone or software maker that meets technical specifications.
Stephenson called the Verizon Wireless plan ``overblown.'' ``The industry's headed that way,'' he said. ``We are probably one of the most open networks in the world, not just the U.S.''
Thousands of developers create features for AT&T's network, and consumers can buy phones at the full price if they don't want to buy a subsidized model and sign a contract to use the company's wireless service, Stephenson said.
AT&T also continues to have confidence in its strategy to offer television service over its phone lines, Stephenson said. Eventually, the company could offer TV to the ``lion's share'' of the 30 million homes in its territory, a goal that could take ``a while,'' he said. ``We can keep pushing this technology further and further out to rural America.'' he said.
Stephenson plans to make the TV service available to 8 million homes by the end of this year and 17 million by the end of 2008. The company offers satellite service from EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc. in areas it doesn't reach with its own TV plan.
Offering satellite will be ``a long-term solution until we can get the video built out in those areas,'' Stephenson said.