Engadget, via typically credible Italian newspaper La Repubblica, reports that a 3G iPhone will be coming soon to Telecom Italia, and what's more: without carrier or contract lock-in.


First, a quick look at our scoreboard, if this be true:

  Europe North Am. South Am Asia Africa Oceania Antarctica
2.5G 5 1 0 0 0 0 0
3G 1? 0 0 0 0 0 0

Next, Apple Insider brings some details:

[A] formal agreement on the matter was signed last week when Franco Bernabè, chief executive officer of TIM's parent company Telecom Italia, met with Steve Jobs at Apple's Cupertino-based headquarters. Under the terms of the deal, TIM will reportedly receive a several month exclusive on sales of a 3G iPhone through its retail shops [...] Apple is also reported to have agreed to terms by which the new iPhone will be sold at a higher price than in other European countries, but without a carrier lock and two-year service agreement.

Apple Insider further notes that, given the high percentage of pay-as-you-go plans in Italy, this unprecedented arrangement would give both the carrier and customers multo-flexibility in selling units and either using them on TIM, or with other providers, with plans or with pre-purchased bundles/minutes.

No comment, of course, from either Cupertino or Roma, but we've repeatedly repeated Apple COO Tim Cook's comments on being open to other business models, and this particular one is very intriguing to say the least.

How does the idea of a contract-free 3G iPhone coming soon (albeit to Italy) grab you?