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AT&T chief confirms 3G iPhone on the way


Apple Inc. will introduce a version of the iPhone next year that can download from the Internet at a rate much faster than the existing version, AT&T Inc. chief executive Randall Stephenson confirmed Wednesday.

The device will operate on third-generation (3G) wireless networks, Stephenson said while speaking at a meeting of the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, California.

"You'll have it next year," he said, explaining that he was unaware of how much more the new version will cost than the existing $399 model because Apple chief executive Steve Jobs "will dictate what the price of the phone is.''

A 3G iPhone has long been believed to be part of Jobs' strategy to meet his company's self-imposed goal of selling 10 million during the 2008 calendar year. However, he noted in September that battery life on current 3G devices was too poor to commission a release in the immediate future.

"We've got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the five-plus-hour range,'' he said at the time. "Hopefully we'll see that late next year.''

In speaking to Bloomberg, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the prospect of a more capable iPhone may make some shoppers put off buying an iPhone this year, but said the number of shoppers who delay a purchase won't be "enough to make a difference."