Apple is confident that it will meet its fourth quarter 2007 deadline for shipping the iPhone in Europe. Apple vice president of worldwide iPod marketing Greg Joswiak told Macworld: “Right now we are in a position where a lot of companies want to work with us, which always makes things easier.”

“Europe is a very important market for us and we think that we have a nice opportunity with this product here, and obviously choosing GSM and a GSM roadmap gave us hope that we could get to Europe in a very short order, and that’s the goal we’ve expressed,” he added.

According to Joswiak, Apple is in the privileged position because “a lot of companies want to work with us.” However, Apple’s requirements from the mobile networks are somewhat different to those of existing mobile phone makers. Apple has not only redesigned the mobile phone, the company clearly intends to rewrite the contract between phone maker and network provider.

A case in point is Apple’s partnership with Cingular to bring the iPhone to the US in June. Cingular CEO Stan Sigman told Macworld Expo keynote attendees: “Key to Cingular’s relationship with Apple is that it lets Cingular be Cingular, and Apple be Apple.” In the US, the networks tend to dictate what features phone will have, it is unlikely that Apple would accept such constraints.

These sentiments were echoed by Joswiak who explained: “Apple is quite fond of making our own products. We don’t want to be a ‘me too’ company. The value of Apple entering a market isn’t to do it just like everyone else has done it. The value is that we try and figure out what the best thing is for the customer. We do what customers are going to want in the future now, rather than do things in a cookie cutter way like it’s been done in the past.”

Visual voice mail

It was necessary for Apple to work closely with Cingular on the visual voice mail concept. “That took a lot of collaboration between us and Cingular,” explained Joswiak. “That’s the benefit of that sort of relationship. Cingular did a lot of work on the network in the back end, we did a lot of work on the front end, and then we made those things tie together.” Visual Voice Mail allows the iPhone user to choose from the list of voice mails and listen to them in a random access method, rather than in the order they were recorded.

Joswiak believes that Apple will be able to form similarly productive relationships with network providers in the UK, although he wouldn’t reveal who these might be. It seems likely that in the UK market it would be necessary for Apple to partner with more than one network provider in order to succeed.

“As we enter each different market we will enter in the way that is most appropriate to that market. That means choosing the right carriers, choosing the right relationships, and modifying the technology,” explained Joswiak, acknowledging that every market is incredibly different.

This is one in a series of five articles featuring comment from Apple about the iPhone. Read more here:

Macworld Expo: The iPhone 'price is right'

Macworld Expo: Optimised OS X sits on 'versatile' flash

Macworld Expo: No 3rd party iPhone software

Macworld Expo: Everyone wants a piece of the iPhone

Macworld Expo: 3G future for iPhone