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iPhone Singapore; Verizon wins 700MHz bid; no unlimited iTunes?

A report claims that Singapore has all but guaranteed its iPhone launch. Also, Verizon has outbid AT&T in obtaining the coveted 700MHz wireless band, Palm is seeing early success for its entry-level Centro smartphone, and one major publication claims to know that unlimited iTunes music deals are unfounded.

SingTel reportedly tapped for iPhone

While negotiations for China may have gone cold, its nearby neighbor Singapore may already have lined up its iPhone launch months in advance, claims Channel NewsAsia.

The southeast Asian publication cites industry contacts who are reportedly aware that the city-state's primary carrier, SingTel, has "more or less sealed the deal" and will offer the phone in September for about $690 in Singapore dollars, or $497 US.

In a departure from its traditional model, however, Apple may allegedly drop its usual demand for a revenue-sharing model in the face of resistance from SingTel. Instead, the iPhone maker may opt for a scheme more familiar to cellphones, where the up-front price of the phone is subsidized by the carrier but the monthly revenues are that carrier's alone.

The belief is partly founded on statements by Apple COO Tim Cook, who said his company wasn't married to the revenue sharing deals struck in Europe and the US.

Neither Apple nor SingTel has commented on the claim.

Verizon takes national prize in 700MHz FCC auction

Verizon on Thursday was found to have scored a coup by winning a nationwide license to use part of the soon-to-be-vacant 700MHz spectrum through a Federal Communications Commission auction.

The win lets Verizon operate any wireless service it wants across the entire US on a slice of frequency that will be dropped by analog broadcast TV in 2009. The space has been sought after by wireless providers for the longer range and better indoors access compared to existing third-generation (3G) cellular access, which often require more towers for the same quality of service.

However, any service run by the American provider will need to obey open access rules for the particular wireless block that allow customers to bring any device and any software on to a future network created for that frequency. The rule was partly the work of Google, which both advocated for unrestricted devices and made a token bid to guarantee that the airwaves would allow use of its mobile software.

The iPhone's current provider, AT&T Mobility, also managed wins of its own but was chiefly limited to regional licenses in a different block without the same rule. In a response to the FCC announcement, AT&T pointed out that its wins would still cover about 95 percent of the US population.

Palm coasts on strong Centro sales, still takes loss

Palm on Thursday offered mixed news with the results for its latest quarter, which ended in February.

The three-month span represented the best ever for the company in terms of sheer unit shipments. According to the firm, over 833,000 phones shipped during the period, a 13 percent jump over the year-ago quarter. Much of that gain was attributed to the Centro, which at $99 is one of the most inexpensive smartphones in the US.

The Centro is now Palm's quickest-selling phone ever and appealed to newcomers to smartphones, said company president Ed Colligan, who noted that 70 percent of all buyers were graduating from more limited phones.

Even so, the smartphone maker swung from a $11.8 million net income in the same period in 2007 to a $31.5 million loss in 2008. The loss was exaggerated primarily by restructuring costs.

Palm last year hired former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein to rekindle its cellphone business, which has been hurt by poor sales of its more upscale Treo devices.

Apple, by contrast, sold 4 million iPhones between its June 2007 launch and January 2008.

Magazine: no talks for unlimited iTunes music

Notions that Apple is discussing unlimited iTunes access plans are "overblown," says an update on the situation by BusinessWeek.

Rebuffing Tuesday's claims by the Financial Times, the weekly magazine refers to well-positioned sources who claim that no talks are underway and that Apple has only "kicked around" the idea, which would have iPhone and iPod buyers optionally pay extra for unfettered downloads from the iTunes Store's music catalog.

Music label sources are also said to reject the claims. Traditionally, Apple has advocated a pay-per-track approach and has criticized subscription models.