When it comes to choosing a mobile phone network to ship iPhone in Europe, the question on most people's lips (given the tech industry seems to be generating no news that doesn't link to the device) is which way will Apple go? Well, I'm no rocket scientist, but I reckon first weekend sales of over half a million handsets may have raised the game.

We've been reporting the little nuggets as they emerge:

One week Orange seems set to win the European iPhone prize (though a little matter of Orange wanting its logo on the phone may have put an end to that plan).

Turn around for five minutes, and Vodafone suddenly seems set to secure the iPhone distribution deal.

But - stop for a moment - here's another rumour: now it seems Deutsche Telecom (aka T-Mobile) may have secured the exclusive deal, at least in Germany.

And previous ideas that Apple may choose to launch its own network for the iPhone also persist. After all - the company could hire in network coverage from any of the large operators - Vodafone has a lot to sell, and Virgin Mobile works this way, as a virtual network operator.

Right now we just don't know.

What I can speculate at is that Apple had at least two choices in the run-up to the 29 June US iPhone launch when it came to finalising the network deal(s) for Europe:

1/ Sign the deal before the iPhone ships, lock the network into the deal on the off-chance the launch flopped.

2/ Keep all parties at the table until the iPhone ships, then lock them all into intense negotiations against each other in full expectation of getting a better deal if the device seems set for success.

I reckon Apple took the second path, or a variant of it.

Right now, I imagine senior managers from Apple Europe are holding final talks with the networks to secure the best possible deal.

I imagine Apple's negotiation team is pointing to the half a million US iPhone sales, and asking: "Do you want your competitors to benefit from this demand?"

I reckon the success of the product on launch has driven Europe's mobile networks into a frenzy (insofar as mobile executives ever get into a frenzy about anything).

I suspect that Apple has choices right now.

These may not be perfect choices; players in the mature and diversified European mobile market almost certainly don't want to give Apple the laissez-faire control it secured from AT&T.

But they are choices all the same.

One sticking point: Edge networks in Europe just aren't as widely deployed as 3G. And European telcos spent billions on their 3G licenses, and will be looking for products that exploit those networks.

As such, while Apple does have choices it will be dealing with networks who all want a 3G iPhone.

3G's demands on battery life were originally cited as a reason not to implement such support in iPhone. However, with an estimated launch window of November, there is time to figure out how to get the best battery life from a 3G iPhone.

For Apple. the danger here is that adding 3G may impact battery life, and with many users not particularly tech-savvy, the company will certainly want to avoid any chance of its product being seen as not as good as the US version.

Anyway, that's where I see things right now. What do you think?