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Thursday, April 03, 2008, 03:25 pm PT (06:25 pm ET)

RBC on shortage; Apple vs. Big Apple; T-Mobile's 99 Euro iPhones

An RBC analyst says that demand, not future models, are dictating the sudden iPhone shortage. Meanwhile, Apple assures buyers that more are on the way, the company is fighting New York City over an apple logo, and T-Mobile Germany is the first to subsidize the iPhone's price with different plans.

RBC: iPhone shortfall result of huge demand

Claims that Apple's sudden lack of iPhones is sign of an imminent upgrade to 3G are unrealistic, Royal Bank analyst Mike Abramsky said on Thursday in a note to investors.

Instead, Apple is more likely to have simply underestimated demand. Investigations suggest that the iPhone maker dropped its build rate by as much as 50 percent in the first quarter of 2008, assuming that demand would drop sharply after the holiday; that sales rate remained steady, Abramsky says. He also notes that Apple has had a recurring difficulty in estimating iPhone demand, including sales of unlocked devices.

An early 3G iPhone launch ignores a number of factors, the RBC researcher notes, including the need to receive government approval and the timing of the version 2.0 firmware update in June, which presents a more likely opportunity.

Still, Abramsky adds, the problem is one Apple is glad to have. The company "probably feels like the dog that caught the car," he says.

Apple responds to iPhone shortage concerns

Until now the only party remaining silent on the subject of its iPhone shortage, Apple on Thursday chimed in on the subject in response to a New York Times inquiry. Spokesman Steve Dowling responded briefly by noting that a steady supply of shipments is still enroute.

"We are working to replenish iPhone supplies as quickly as we can," he says in a prepared statement.

Dowling declined to provide an explanation for the shortage.

Apple disputes New York City campaign logo

Although it runs three flagship retail stores in New York City, Apple is taking the local government to task for attempting to trademark a logo resembling its namesake fruit.

While the city's emblem — meant for the GreeNYC environmental campaign — bears little direct similarity to Apple's partly-eaten version, the appearance is close enough that Apple has filed its formal opposition to the registration of the trademark.

The use of the logo by New York would "seriously injure" Apple's reputation by causing confusion and diluting the brand, Apple claims.

The protest will require that an independent survey take place to determine whether claims of confusion are well-founded.

T-Mobile Germany to subsidize iPhone price during promo

Apple has historically resisted subsidizing the iPhone's price with subscriptions since its debut, but that should change as of next week, according to reports.

Starting April 7th, T-Mobile Germany is expected to run a promotional campaign that will discount the price of an 8GB iPhone by increasing amounts depending on the customer's subscription plan. A customer of the 89-Euro Complete XL plan, which offers 1,000 minutes per month, will pay just 99 Euros for the phone itself.

Having obtained a full chart for the campaign, German site iFun has also learned that less costly Complete L and M lans will offer the phone for 149 and 199 Euros. A fourth plan, the Complete S plan, will offer just 50 minutes of calling and caps data to 500MB but will still offer the phone for 249 Euros, or 150 Euros less than its normal asking price.

Notably, the sale is due to end on June 30th, shortly after Apple expects to ship its version 2.0 firmware upgrade.