Apple confirms U.S. iPhone launch set for June

Apple Inc. confirmed Tuesday reports that its iPhone cellphone will be released in the United States in June.

Apple Inc. has confirmed reports that its iPhone cellphone will be released in the United States in June.

An e-mail sent Tuesday to people who signed up on Apple's website to receive information about the device read: "Talk to you soon. Thanks for signing up. You'll be the first to hear the latest about iPhone — coming this June. That gives you just enough time to think of ways to break the news to your current phone."

Last Thursday, reported a manager at U.S. wireless carrier Cingular Wireless Corp.'s customer service line said the phone would be launched June 11.

Canadian availability 'speculation'

In Canada, Rogers Wireless Inc. — the only wireless service provider in the country with a network the iPhone can use — offered no launch date and dismissed the idea that it would sell the highly anticipated device as "speculation."

"We haven't announced whether we will carry the iPhone," Odette Coleman,manager of corporate communications for Rogers Wireless, said in an e-mail to CBC News Online. "Everything in the media has been speculations to this point. The only fact is that we are the only GSM carrier in Canada. That's the only fact."

The iPhone operates on the GSM (global system mobile) wireless technology standard. Other carriers in Canada use the CDMA (code division multiple access) standard.

Applerepresentatives did not immediately return CBC News Online's calls for comment.

Device may not come to Canada

There may be more to Coleman's assertions than just protecting Rogers's competitive information, according to one telecommunications analyst.

"It's not necessarily a must that they carry it," Ronald Gruia, an analyst with market research firm Frost & Sullivan in Toronto, told CBC News Online. "There's many considerations why they may not carry it."

Gruia said that there are always costs, including business and technical factors,to the carrier when they decide to add a new phone to their lineup.

For Rogers, major considerations likely includethe fact of the wireless carrier upgrading to a next-generation or 3G networkand the possibility that itscurrent contractswith cellphone manufacturers still have some time to go before they have run their course, Gruia speculated.

He noted that the iPhone is a so-called 2.5G cellphone, bridging the divide between older phones that were useful for little more than voice, and next-generation smartphones that could almost replace a desktop computer.

As a result, Rogers may decide to hold off introducing the iPhone for now, he said.

Wait and see

"Rogers may waitto see how well it does in the U.S.," Gruia said. "If this thing really takes off and has tremendous uptake in the U.S., maybe we'll see it here in time for Christmas."

But that is an unlikely outcome since the iPhone is expected to cost at least $499 US, pricing most people out of the market for the device.

The device is forecast to likely sell about 10 million units in 2008, or about one per cent of the projected global market of one billion handsets.

Those kinds of figures don't tell a wireless carrier that they must offer any device, Gruia said, adding that doesn't even factor in the costs associated with training a sales force, marketing and servicing the handsets.

Coupled with the possibility that Rogers still has some way to go before its existing contracts for large-volume sales ofpopular phones such as Motorola's RAZR and Sony-Ericsson's W810, and the carrier may not be inclined to offer the iPhone, whichwould compete with other devices, he said.

Newer 3G iPhone to come

If that's the case, Rogers may wait until part of the way through 2008 before they introduce the iPhone, Gruia said.

Or they may wait until Apple introduces a 3G version of the iPhone that would take advantage ofan advanced network, skipping the first version altogether, he said.

"Apple will for sure launch a 3G phone [eventually] and Rogers will carry it," Gruia said, noting that development could be two years away.

But that doesn't mean the iPhone won't be seen in Canada.

It is highly likely that Rogers is already testing the device on its network, he said, but even if the carrier doesn't launch it here, Apple fans and early adopters will lead the charge.

Gruia said he knows a lot of people whohavesigned on with U.S. carriers so they can get a phone not offered in Canada, and that will continue.

"Mac fans are funny animals. They're loyal to the [Apple] brand," he said. "You definitely will see the iPhone in Canada, but not necessarily being supported by Rogers — that's definite."