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Friday, December 07, 2007, 02:55 pm PT (05:55 pm ET)

AT&T expands iPhone distribution; AmTech on Dell; West 14th

AT&T's control of Cellular One is bringing the iPhone to new corners of the US, including Alaska. And Dell's venture into retail is unlikely to dent Apple's influence in retail, according to an investor note from American Technology Research.

AT&T begins iPhone push in Cellular One territory

AT&T has begun the process of converting former Cellular One territories into satellites of its own network, the carrier announced today.

The action is the first such visible change for subscribers to the regional provider, whose parent Dobson Communications was bought out by AT&T on June 29th, the same day the iPhone was released in the US.

The formal step not only converts 200 of Cellular One's stores across 16 states but will also bring AT&T's phones to these markets.

The iPhone is no exception, AT&T says, and will make its first appearance in Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau will be the first to receive the Apple cellphone for the northern state as of this Sunday.

AT&T is expected to complete transitioning Cellular One customers and stores in 2008.

AmTech: Dell's Best Buy move unlikely to shake industry

Dell's move into Best Buy is welcome but may not disrupt other major players in retail, says American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu in a new research note.

Although the decision to start sales in a major electronics-oriented retail chain has "long been anticipated," the presence of Inspiron and XPS systems at retail is not expected to generate enough revenue to challenge other companies who have mastered retail — including Apple, HP, and Sony. Dell's early ventures into retail have also largely been lackluster.

"Our sources indicate that Dell's success in retail could be characterized as 'modest' at best and immaterial to its financials," Wu says. "We believe doing well in retail will likely prove more difficult to execute than the bulls [in the stock market] would indicate."

Apple's Chinese iPhone deals struck?

Apple has cemented some of its plans for the iPhone's release in China, according to a statement by an executive from handset retailer D.Phone.

Company vice president Chen Jingsheng claims that the nationwide store chain will carry the device in the country and that the release will be timed near the beginning of the Spring Festival holiday, which begins February 7th. China Mobile will be the carrier, the D.Phone official says.

However, the report contradicts reports from both inside and outside the country which claim that Apple and China Mobile have fallen out over questions of revenue sharing.

Local analysts argue that D.Phone's announcement may be a pressure tactic to earn a concession from China Mobile.

Palm falls short on income due to delayed mystery device

The inability to launch an unnamed product on time was the key to Palm failing to meet its income expectations, according to the company's preliminary financial results delivered this week.

Likely part of the company's Treo smartphone line, the mystery device is reportedly responsible for Palm's income for the latest quarter dipping well below expectations, tumbling from $380 million to $350 million.

West 14th Street Apple store opening coverage

Apple is debuting its third New York City retail store tonight, at West 14th Street. ifo Apple Store is providing running coverage for the event, including photos.