Italian Newspaper La Repubblica is reporting that Apple will launch the 3G iPhone in Italy in June through Telecom Italia without the compulsory revenue sharing scheme that has been imposed on the initial iPhone partners in Germany, France, UK and US.
The newspaper also says that Apple would only grant exclusivity to Telecom Italia for a short term and then allow other Italian providers to connect the 3G iPhone fthe wanton masses.
According to La Repubblica, negotiations started with Luca Luciani, Telecom Italia's CEO, making the first move towards Apple and Franco Benabe, one of his lieutenants, achieving what others before him failed to; convincing Steve Jobs to abandon the revenue sharing scheme.
Instead, the iPhone will be sold at a much higher price and only from Apple.
The relatively slow uptake of the iPhone in Europe combined with Apple's own high estimations could have made Steve Jobs change his mind with regards to the best iPhone selling strategy.
Furthermore, competition is growing with other phone vendors trying to cash in on smartphones and the fact that Italy has one of the highest 3G penetration in Europe (more than France and UK combined, in terms of percentage), make Italy the ideal test bed for its strategy.
If successful, Apple could extend this approach to China and other Asian countries where the iPhone has yet to be launched.
Back in January, talks between China Mobile, the biggest Chinese mobile phone provider, broke down and the main stumbling block was Apple reluctance to abandon its revenue sharing plans.