Rumour Mill: Italy and Spain tipped as next for iPhone

Given the success that the iPhone has already achieved in Europe--most notably in Germany, industry watchers are expecting operators in Spain and Italy to announce their agreement (perhaps at the Mobile World Congress next week) to offer the iPhone.

According to Spanish newspapers, Telefonica has been in deep discussions with Apple iPhone representatives, while Italy's Telecom Italia Mobile is thought to have been secretly working with the U.S. company for some months.

While these two countries would be natural targets for Apple, having signed deals in the U.K., France and Germany, operators in less populous nations are also looking to be involved in the hype circus. Most notable among these are Switzerland and Belgium.

Benoit Scheen, the CEO of Belgium's second largest mobile operator, Mobistar, said that a deal for the iPhone could be signed this year but cast doubt over the timing. "In Europe, the iPhone is only available in four markets", Scheen said, adding that Italy and Poland, for example, have a far greater growth potential than Belgium.

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