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Apple gets go ahead for iPhone launch

Slams 'false rumours' of delays

Apple's iPhone has been given the green light to take a bite out of the US handset market as the firm bit back at false rumours that sent shares plummeting.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given its seal of approval to Apple's iPhone, clearing the way for the handset to hit the US market next month. "The iPhone has passed its required FCC certification milestone and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told Reuters. US telecoms firm AT&T plans to start selling the iPhone late next month.

The iPhone was unveiled by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs in January and is expected to come to market with a price tag of $500. News of FCC approval came after Apple had to quell rumours of a delay to the iPhone which initiated a $2.8bn dollar panic.

On Wednesday, a spoof email posing as an internal Apple news alert was sent to Apple employees, informing them that the release of the touch screen hybrid phone-and-music player was being delayed from June to October. It added that Leopard, the next version of the Mac operating system, would move back its launch from October to January.

Tech news blog Engadget, which is owned by AOL, posted news of the delays later that day. Apple's shares dropped three per cent once news of the delays became public. The firm's stock price dropped from $107.89 to $104.61 in the space of six minutes as Wall Street went into panic mode.

Apple rebutted the rumour and by close of trading on Wednesday the share price had by and large recovered, rising to $107.29. Kerris told Reuters the email that started the frenzy was spreading false information. "That email was a fake and did not come from Apple," she said. Confirmation of the iPhone's June release saw Apple's share rise 2.2 per cent on Thursday, reaching $109.70 in late afternoon trading.

While the FCC report spells good news for consumers in the US, Irish customers will likely have to wait a while before getting their hands on the iPhone. The Irish Times said on Tuesday reports that the iPhone media player from Apple may not be available initially in Ireland when it launches in Europe later this year, if Apple signs its anticipated European distribution deal with T-Mobile. The German telco, which has no relationship with any Irish mobile network, is believed to be the favourite instead of Vodafone to land the deal.

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