Vodafone Australia has announced that it will be selling the iPhone in Australia later this year.
The agreement is part of a wider global deal in which Vodafone will be selling the device in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey.
"Vodafone Australia is enormously pleased to be included in the agreement to sell the iPhone to our customers later this year," said Russell Hewitt, CEO of Vodafone Australia, in a statement. "The iPhone will be the perfect addition to Vodafone Australia's mobile handset range."
Vodafone representatives would not add further information as to whether the deal was exclusive, when the devices would be available or whether it would carry a 3G version of the handset.
It has widely been suggested that unlike existing iPhone markets, the device will not be tied to a single carrier in Australia. Optus has recently been tipped as a fellow iPhone carrier, but an Optus spokesperson declined to comment on whether it will offer the device.
Gartner research director Robin Simpson said the Vodafone announcement "lends some weight to the assumption that Apple is moving away from its single operator model".
"If Vodafone had exclusive access, they would be trumpeting it. It looks like Vodafone has made a pre-emptive strike for public relations kudos. I would expect that we'll be hearing from other Australian and Asian operators with a 'me too' in the next 12 to 24 hours."
While Optus declined to comment, a Telstra spokesperson said the telco had "no news to share" about the iPhone, and 3 could not be immediately reached for comment.
Simpson said the deal was a coup for Vodafone, as experience from AT&T in the US suggests that stocking the iPhone generates significant traffic into retail stores.
"It is also interesting that this is the first time any operator has made a global play for the iPhone," he said. "Consumers are more and more mobile, and the roaming charges applicable when traveling internationally is becoming a real issue. Vodafone is one of the few carriers that can offer reasonable roaming deals across a global footprint."
By Gartner's estimations, the single carrier model pursued by Apple in the United States and Western Europe/UK was an important strategic move for Apple but not a "river of gold".
"It was a great way to start, as it gave them a co-operative carrier to get things started," he said. "But when we break down the revenue sharing, it would take [Apple] two to three years to make as much money with that arrangement as they would opening it up to all takers."