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Briefly: Apple launches official presence in Portugal, more

Apple has stormed into Portugal, opening its (virtual) doors earlier in the week. Meanwhile, a Spanish firm says the iPhone will arrive in its home country by spring with 3G Internet access. And Costco is offering significant discounts on the Apple TV media hub.

Apple launches formal presence in Portugal

Apple this week finalized taking direct control of its sales efforts in Portugal and opened its Apple Portugal website, including an official online store that sells all of Apple's products already available in the country.

Previously, the Mac maker's business in the western European nation had been handled by Interlog, a middleman firm known by Apple as an Independent Marketing Company (IMC). The arm's-length approach placed Portugal into the same category as several other nations in Africa, central Europe, and the Middle East, which take on most of the burden of selling and supporting Apple products themselves.

Apple's first steps to open a presence in Portugal began in May, when the company obtained the fiscal number it needs to run its business in the area.

Developer claims Spanish iPhone in May

A mobile software developer named SevenClick alleges that Spain's primary cellular carrier, Telefonica, expects a 3G-capable iPhone in May.

The development team, whose report has since been echoed by the national paper El Pais, claims to have spoken with a principal manager at Telefonica who explained why Spain is not included in the first wave of European launches for the Apple handset.

Much of the delay stems from contract negotiation and supply issues, according to the allegations. If true, Telefonica has had no objections to a late 2007 release but has been relegated to a spring release once it became clear supply would not allow more than France, Germany, and the UK to participate in the first release. The carrier also purportedly aims to lower proposed revenue sharing deals that would see Apple collect as much as 30 percent of the revenue from each subscriber.

While the claims are not directly verified and should be treated with caution, Telefonica is the parent company of O2, which serves as the exclusive provider for the iPhone in the UK.

Costco offers major Apple TV discounts

Big-box retailer Costco is offering substantial instant rebates on the 160GB Apple TV at its stores, AppleInsider has learned from multiple corroborating reports.

While at least some of the outlets sell the device at $390, close to its official $399 price, the company is offering a $50 rebate that applies at checkout, lowering the price to $340. The rebate is effective until November 24th, one report says.

It is unclear as to whether the move to clear stock is the responsibility of Apple or Costco. The 40GB model is not included in the campaign.

AT&T allows data to be dropped from iPhone plans

Veering from its previous insistence that iPhone subscription rates include data, AT&T now allows customers to drop Internet access from their service plans.

Although customers still need to sign up for the initial rate, the carrier's account management website now lets users pay as little as $40 per month by shedding their EDGE cellular Internet service and leaving Wi-Fi as the only option for a data connection.

However, the $20 discount also removes the free supply of SMS text messages as well as Visual Voicemail, both of which rely on basic data.