3G iPhone launch seen in 2nd quarter

NEW YORK Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:31pm EDT

A model presents an Apple iPhone at the T-Mobile Store in Cologne November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

A model presents an Apple iPhone at the T-Mobile Store in Cologne November 9, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Ina Fassbender

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is expected to launch a high-speed wireless version of iPhone in the second quarter and produce as many as 8 million of the devices in the third quarter, according to Bank of America.

Apple shares closed up $2.76, or 2 percent, at $143.01 after the prediction in a research report about the third-generation phone from Bank of America analyst Scott Craig. Shares in AT&T Inc (T.N), the exclusive U.S. carrier for iPhone, closed up flat at $37.66 after rising to $38.39 earlier in the day.

"Our latest channel checks point to a significant production build of a 3G iPhone beginning in the month of June after an initial small build in May," he said.

AT&T said last year it expects to be able to sell a 3G version of iPhone in 2008, but it declined comment on specific launch dates on Friday.

Apple representative Jennifer Bowcock declined comment.

Craig said that now he expects production volume to be much higher than his previous estimates. He said Apple planned to build more than 3 million high-speed iPhones in May followed by more than 8 million in the third quarter of the year.

Craig, who had previously estimated 8 million iPhone units for the whole of 2008, said that was starting to look conservative unless some of the plans were pushed back.

Many other analysts have said they expect Apple, which is holding a developer conference in June, to launch an advanced iPhone around that time.

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said it would make sense for Apple to bring out its high-speed iPhone in June around the time it launches an upgrade to iPhone software.

Apple has said it expects to have sold 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. It said in January that it had sold more than 4 million iPhones since the phone was launched in June.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Scott Hillis in San Francisco editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Gunna Dickson)

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