O2 prompts speculation over 3G iPhone

LONDON Wed May 14, 2008 11:51am EDT

Steven Levy, a journalist from Newsweek magazine, holds the Apple iPhone, one of the two given to journalists in New York before it went on sale, as he is interviewed by television reporters outside the Apple store on New York's 5th Avenue, June 29, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Sega

Steven Levy, a journalist from Newsweek magazine, holds the Apple iPhone, one of the two given to journalists in New York before it went on sale, as he is interviewed by television reporters outside the Apple store on New York's 5th Avenue, June 29, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Sega

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LONDON (Reuters) - Telefonica's O2 (TEF.MC) and Apple (AAPL.O) will be making a joint announcement in the "coming weeks", prompting speculation that the U.S. firm is set to announce a new third-generation model of its iPhone.

Mobile operator O2 has secured the right to sell the iPhone in Ireland and Britain and last month it cut prices for the most basic version by 100 pounds in the British market.

Analysts interpreted this as a bid to clear shelf space ahead of what is expected to be the launch of a new model that will run on faster 3G networks.

Apple has declined to comment.

Matthew Key, chief executive of Telefonica O2 Europe, told reporters on a conference call after his group's results that Telefonica and Apple would make a joint statement over the coming weeks but he declined to say whether it would be about 3G iPhones.

"It is broadly known we are now out of stock of the 8 gigabyte and we have got some 16 gigabytes left," Key told Reuters in a separate interview.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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