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IPhone eyes Canada but move into China delayed

January 15, 2008|From Blooomberg News

Apple Inc. may unveil a version of the iPhone for Canada as early as today, but China Mobile said Monday that talks over the launch of iPhone handsets in China had been called off.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs may make the announcement about the iPhone for Canada during his speech at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.

Apple probably will outline an agreement with Rogers Communications Inc., Canada's largest mobile-phone company, for iPhone service, Abramsky said.

Apple released the Web-surfing iPhone in the U.S. in June, and sold almost 1.4 million devices in the first three months. Toronto-based Rogers is the only wireless operator in Canada that uses the same technology as the iPhone.

"There's a very good chance that Apple will announce or discuss some kind of other carrier roll-outs, beyond the ones it has done in Europe and the U.S.," said Abramsky, who is based in Toronto. "There is definitely very strong demand and interest here."

Jobs also may announce a movie-rental service, which would let iTunes customers download films over the Internet and watch them for a limited time, Abramsky said. The analyst said he expected Apple's shares to perform better than competitors'.

Rogers spokeswoman Jan Innes declined to comment. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet didn't return a call seeking comment.

Meantime, Chinese Internet portal Sina.com reported Monday that China Mobile and Apple could not agree on terms in their preliminary discussions. Neither company would comment on the reasons.

"We can only say that negotiations have ended for now," said Li Honghui, a spokeswoman for China Mobile Communications Corp.

Sina.com, citing an unnamed official at China Mobile, reported that the Asian company was unwilling to accept Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's request for a 20% to 30% share of China Mobile's user fees from future iPhone users.

Analysts have said a breakdown in talks between Apple and China Mobile could open the way for rival China Unicom to offer the iPhone exclusively in mainland China.

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