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Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Apple to unveil faster iPhone,says AT&T chief

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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 Randall Stephenson said.

The device will operate on third-generation wireless networks, Stephenson said at a meeting of the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, California, yesterday. San Antonio-based AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the US.

"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 US$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 next year, 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 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 US 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 US."

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.

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