Apple and Orange pair up in UK iPhone deal

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mobile operator Orange has announced it will soon be selling Apple's iPhone in the United Kingdom. The deal marks an end to rival network O2's position as sole UK supplier of the smartphone.

Apple's iPhone (2007)
Image: Blake Burris.

Orange has not yet given details of pricing or dates, but said the iPhone will be available to buy "later this year". It could be a sweet deal for Orange; in February O2 revealed it had sold over a million iPhones since the British launch two years ago. The newest iPhone 3GS has also been selling well, with some stores having trouble keeping up with demand.

Orange's entry could prove fruitful for consumers as well, with some expecting it to lead to a price war. The operator will not have to share its revenues with Apple as O2 did under its exclusive deal, possibly allowing it to cut prices. However it is thought that O2 may be renegotiating its own terms with Apple, or even have done so already.

O2 certainly didn't seem to have sour grapes, acknowledging that its exclusive position was only "for a limited period of time". Although AT&T still have sole rights to sell the iPhone in the United States, most other markets already have multiple providers.

Vodafone, who already sell the iPhone in several other countries, have also expressed an interest in selling it in Britain. Another major network in the UK, T-Mobile, recently announced plans to merge with Orange UK.