Report: 3rd-party resellers to carry iPhone 3G in Germany

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German buyers of Apple's next-generation iPhone will have their choice of multiple resellers instead of being locked into visiting T-Mobile's stores, according to a German newspaper.

The business paper Wirtschaftswoche claims that sources within Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company, have already signed a first deal which will let Gravis sell iPhones attached to a T-Mobile service plan.

This reported expansion also wouldn't be exclusive, the same report says, though it may depend heavily on breaking an earlier deal with a rival. Media Markt and its sister electronics chain Saturn are interested but can't yet sign a deal as their owner MediaSaturnHolding currently has an exclusive deal to sell phones from Debitel, one of T-Mobile's primary opponents in Germany.

Notably, Debitel was briefly an iPhone carrier itself, offering the official unlocked models with a heavy rebate until a legal ruling allowed T-Mobile to drop the unlocked model in favor of its carrier-specific edition.

The multi-party nature of the proposed reseller deals would signify a further loosening of Apple's sales policy. While the US-based company has already agreed to sell through multiple carriers in some countries and is still rumored to be selling iPhone 3G units through third-party resellers in Australia, the German deal is the first to see more than one third-party store reportedly get approval to carry the handset.

It would also belatedly fulfill Gravis' predictions for itself; in mid-2007, the retailer was already declaring that it would carry the iPhone by the end of 2007 despite the absence of any official word from Apple or T-Mobile. The November launch of the original iPhone in Germany saw its sales limited to official T-Mobile shops and without any Gravis deal in sight.

Apple and T-Mobile alike have so far remained silent on the latest claims.


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