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3/27/2008
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Gartner Clarifies 3G iPhone Reports

The technology research firm says it doesn't know whether Apple has actually ordered 10 million iPhones that support 3G networks, as was reported on the Web.

Technology research firm Gartner on Thursday tried to clear up reports that it had said Apple might be buying 10 million iPhones capable of connecting to much faster data networks.

The iPod Observer reported this week that Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said Apple may have ordered 10 million iPhones that support 3G networks, based on rumors in Asia. That report later got circulated on the Web, where the comments were misinterpreted as a Gartner prediction, said Bob Hafner, Dulaney's boss.

Gartner doesn't know whether Apple has actually placed an order for 3G iPhones, but the researcher does believe the next version of the touch-screen smartphone will have those high-speed capabilities. "If Apple was to place an order, then 10 million would be a reasonable number," Hafner said. "And we absolutely believe that in the next-generation iPhone, 3G will be there."

As to rumors of Apple placing an order for the high-speed phones, Hafner said, "We have not got confirmation that an order had been placed."

Apple has predicted it will sell 10 million of the current iPhone by the end of the year and has reportedly ordered that many units. The iPhone currently uses an EDGE radio, a digital mobile phone technology for increased data transmission rates over a cellular network. EDGE, however, is considered a 2.75-generation technology, versus a 3G technology, such as HSDPA, which is used in Europe.

Because data transmission on the iPhone is slower than 3G devices in Europe, there has been speculation that Apple hasn't done as well as the company expected in the region. Gartner says the move to 3G is necessary for Apple to compete globally with other devices, but it won't put the company on the bleeding edge of technology. HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung, and others are selling 3.5G phones, which are available in Korea, Japan, Europe, and Australia.

Another improvement Gartner expects in the next-generation iPhone is the use of an organic light emitting diode (OLED) display instead of the current lower-resolution LCD screen. An OLED screen uses less power than the latter, which should help balance the increased power use of a 3G radio, Hafner said. "The screen is one of the biggest power users."

In addition, he said, an OLED screen has "very, very nice resolution -- beautiful resolution."

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