iPhone to hit Australia on July 11

Optus and Vodafone will offer the new iPhone 3G device through both contract and pre-paid plans

The Apple iPhone 3G will hit Australian shores through Vodafone and Optus on July 11.

The new handset retains all of the original iPhone features with additional 3G networking (HSDPA) capabilities. It also has built-in GPS and iPhone 2.0 software which offers support for Microsoft Exchange ActivSync and runs third-party applications. iPhone 3G also includes the new App Store, which offers users applications in a variety of categories including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.

Vodafone head of corporate communications, Greg Spears, said the 3G device will be made available on either contract or pre-paid plans. He was unable to specify the types of plans or caps that will be offered. Further announcements about applications will also be made available closer to the release date.

Vodafone became the first local telco to announce an agreement to sell the iPhone last month. A week later, Optus was announced as the second Australian provider for the iPhone. In a statement today, Optus chief executive, Paul O'Sullivan, said iPhone users would be able to access 3G services as the telco expanded its network to 96 per cent of the population by December this year and 98 per cent by December 2009.

Optus director of marketing, Michael Smith, said it would not be announcing its plans at this stage.

"Customers can hop on to the website and put a $100 fully refundable deposit down to guarantee themselves an iPhone on the day," he said. "We do expect there will be quite a bit of interest."

Australia is one of 22 countries getting first dibs on the new 3G model, which was announced by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, at the vendor's developer conference this week. The handset is expected to be available in 70 countries by the end of the year.

Questions still remain around whether Apple's reseller community will be given access to the iPhone.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on whether resellers would get access to the iPhone with forthcoming Optus or Vodafone plans.

Ovum analyst, Nathan Burley, said the new 3G model would draw a lot more consumers to the device. He highlighted the enterprise market as potential adopters for the iPhone 3G device.

"The initial iPhone wasn't launched here properly but there were about 40,000 of them that have made their way here," he said. "Apple is trying to position iPhone 3G as providing a lot of the enterprise functionality that a blackberry device could offer, like integration with Microsoft Exchange."

However, Burley pointed out the new 3G iPhone would only be supported by Optus and Vodafone in metropolitan areas because the device does not currently support the latest Optus and Vodafone 3G mobile network deployments.

"The only networks that will support the iPhone higher data speeds would be in the metropolitan areas where Optus and Vodafone have coverage," he said.

A recent study revealed that one in four potential iPhone buyers had been putting off their purchase until Apple unveiled a faster speed 3G model.

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