Report: Apple Picks Euro iPhone Partners

European iPhone speculation hit a climax today as a new report says Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has picked its first European partners for the famous phone and struck a ground-breaking revenue-share deal on services. According to a Financial Times Deutscheland report, Apple has chosen T-Mobile International AG in Germany, Orange France in France, and O2 in the U.K.

Unstrung sources say Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is also close to announcing a European iPhone deal and that Apple is working out some bugs in the device for Vodafone and other operators. (See Apple-Vodafone Euro Deal Imminent?)

But no European operator has put anyone's mind to rest on the subject. O2, Orange, and T-Mobile will not comment on anything having to do with the iPhone.

"It's all rumors and speculation and we won't comment either way," says an O2 spokesman.

But the really interesting part of the FT Deutscheland report is the operators have agreed to a 10 percent revenue share with Apple on all calls and data transfers made on the device.

If the revenue share terms are real, then these iPhone deals are extraordinary. It would be the first time a mobile operator shares service revenues with a device manufacturer. You can bet Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and other device makers are intrigued, to say the least. (See iPhone Revenues Flow in Three Streams, AT&T's iPhone Deal Bountiful for Apple, and Apple Preps for Millionth iPhone.)

European markets met today's news without much excitement, though. When T-Mobile was first reported to have won the iPhone deal last month, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s share price leapt 1.5 percent on the news. But in mid-morning trading today, the German operator's share price nudged up just .3 percent. The share price of Orange's parent Orange (NYSE: FTE) was actually down by .27 percent this morning. (See iPhone Fever Hits Europe.)

But this is not the end of the story of the iPhone's travels in Europe. The big question, among many others, is still unanswered, which is whether or not the device will have 3G.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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