Apple ends iPhone exclusive distribution deal in the UK ... US next?

Apple ends iPhone exclusive distribution deal in the UK ... US next?

Summary: Cellphone provider Orange has announced a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in the UK, a move which will see the end of O2's exclusive deal. How long until Apple does the same in the US?

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Cellphone provider Orange has announced a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in the UK, a move which will see the end of O2's exclusive deal.  How long until Apple does the same in the US?

The announcement is short and to the point:

Orange UK and Apple have reached an agreement to bring iPhone 3G and 3GS to Orange UK customers later this year.

Orange, which has the largest 3G network covering more people in the UK than any other operator, will sell iPhone in all Orange direct channels including Orange shops, the Orange webshop and Orange telesales channels, as well as selected high street partners.

More information on pricing, tariffs and availability dates will be released in due course.

There are two factors at work here. First, I think that it's no coincidence that this deal follows the announcement that Orange plans to merge with T-Mobile to become the largest cellphone service provider in the UK. However, secondly, it has to be that exclusive distribution deals only go so far. Some customers can't or won't shift providers no matter what phone or deal is on offer. It makes sense that Apple would start to make the iPhone available through other providers.

The day is coming where AT&T's reign of terror over iPhone owners will come to an end. The announcement will have more fanfare than the one in the UK, but it will come ... and in my mind, it can't come soon enough.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

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17 comments
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  • Can't see it's such a big deal

    In Australia, iPhone was available on a number of carriers simultaneously
    at its first launch. That was August last year, so I wouldn't hold my breath
    waiting for Apple to end its exclusive deal with AT&T in the US.
    Fred Fredrickson
    • And how are iPhone sales in Oz...

      ...compared to, say, Nokia?

      You would imagine that since the iPhone is available on multiple carriers they would be hammering Nokia in sales.

      But are they?
      Sleeper Service
      • Be more specific.

        Compared to the complete Nokia range? Unfair
        comparison as they are bound to generate more
        income from sales of a more diverse portfolio, and
        [i]you[/i] know it. To the N97 - you've got access
        to Google and Bing, use them and stop trying to be
        clever.
        UsernameRequired
  • The announcement will have more fanfare than the one in the UK

    Erm...not in the UK it will not.
    The 'G-Man.'
  • RE: Apple ends iPhone exclusive distribution deal in the UK ... US next?

    That will be a good news for AT&T because it will no longer shoulder network abuse alone.
    xiang.shen
  • Verizon will be next, I'm sure

    I'm sure the next US carrier to get it will be Verizon. T-Mobile seems to be going with the Android crowd, and can already get unlocked iPhones, so no real benefit to them. Sprint has hedged its bets on Palm Pre, and while they stand the most to gain from a deal with Apple, I think they've created an unfavorable situation for getting that deal.
    GoodThings2Life
    • Verizon is CDMA, not GSM...

      Verizon is CDMA, not GSM. So unless Apple makes a dual carrier phone,
      that's not likely to happen. CDMA would be a move backwards because
      it would assure the vendor lockin people complaining about already with
      AT&T.

      There is no reliable way to unlock a CDMA phone to be used on a
      different carrier other than the one you bought it with.

      Also, GSM is more widely used world wide. SIM cards are sold like calling
      cards in other countries. This makes GSM phones extremely convenient
      when traveling, and allows you to avoid roaming charges.
      olePigeon
      • LTE

        LTE rollout starts late this year, I'm sure that will open Verizon up for the next version of the Iphone. I doubt Apple puts any effort into a CDMA version of the phone, doesn't gain them anything since Verizon is upgrading it's network to LTE.
        endorphine44
  • Not really too significant. Article misunderstands what's happening here.

    "I think that it?s no coincidence that this deal follows the
    announcement that Orange plans to merge with T-Mobile"

    Actually I think that it is a coincidence that this has
    happened after that merger was announced. The
    exclusivity deal that Apple signed with O2 was for 2 years,
    and therefore runs out this November.

    Due to this, your question "How long until Apple does the
    same in the US?" doesn't really make sense as this is
    depends on how long the exclusivity deal that Apple has
    made with AT&T is. If they've signed away 5 years then
    Apple can't open it up to other providers until 5 years
    time.
    samdavyson
  • Tmobile with IUphone makes most sense

    Its bad now with the cost of AT&T plans for the iphone but then if they go to verizon where fees are kind then that would makew the phone suck even more. Tmobile pricing plans would make for the largest jump in buyers as plans are much more reasonable and if verizon gets the iphone it will be a cdma version which means Tmobile wont have those nice unlocked sim card gsm phone. Verizon being cdma will have the iphone locked down but it could get unlocked for use with sprint or US cellular then
    Fletchguy
  • Canada

    They might also drop the exclusivity in Canada... oh wait we only have 1 GSM carrier in Canada, Rodgers and Fido(Owned by Rodgers).
    Ceridan
  • RE: Apple ends iPhone exclusive distribution deal in the UK ... US next?

    I hope att will start taking better care of their Iphone customers or as soon as Apple ends this bad partnership and start letting other carriers have Iphones I will be the first one to drop Att.
    hedua38
    • That is what I am waiting for to get one.

      As soon as it is opened up to other carriers, then some real competition on Cell/Data plans will open up.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • Apple needs a reality check

    Lots of manufacturers make the same phone for different
    carriers. Apple is just snooty.
    Ken Steiger
    • ...and have sold

      1 million units in the UK alone. That's not to be
      sniffed at by any means. Sure, they potentially
      [i]could[/i] sell more if they opened up to other
      operators, the fact that whilst only really having
      one model on sale they have moved that many units,
      [i]in a niche market[/i] and exclusively with a
      single carrier, not to mention a market that is
      used to being offered mobile phone of [i]all[/i]
      varieties for free, I'd argue that a reality check
      isn't necessary at all. The actual reality is
      rather good thanks.
      UsernameRequired
  • Will people leave ATT if they have a choice?

    If this happens in the US (which I doubt anytime soon). How
    many will abandon ATT is anyone's guess. It will also be
    interesting if Verizon will make nice and if Apple will make a
    CDMA phone? After all Verizon said "No Thanks" to the Pre.
    Maybe they know something the rest don't. I certainly don't
    think ATT has been thrilled with its Apple partnership.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
  • RE: Apple ends iPhone exclusive distribution deal in the UK ... US next?

    Orange globally now offers iPhones in 28 countries and territories. The company also has the largest 3G network by coverage in the United Kingdom. <a href="http://www.cartitleloans.net/">car title loan</a>
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