Apple begins to end its iPhone exclusivity as Vodafone on Tuesday announced it will join France Telecom's Orange and Telefonica's O2 in selling the phone in Britain.
Orange will start selling the popular Apple iPhone in Britain later this year, it said on Monday, when the exclusive contract held by Telefonica's O2 will expire.
Vodafone's move comes less than 24 hours after Orange UK announced plans to offer the popular Apple iPhone in Britain later this year. Together, the two carriers will bring to an end a two-year exclusive contract held by rival O2 which ovetook Vodafone as the largest mobile network in the U.K. largely on surging consumer interest in the iPhone.
We estimate that the iPhone represents more than 100% of O2 UK's growth, 6% of subscribers, 14% of service revenues and 13% of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, said Bernstein analyst Robin Bienenstock. In the UK O2 has consistently taken contract share from competitors (in particular Vodafone) since its sole distribution of this iconic brand began.
Analysts predict there will likely be the price war as three carriers will be peddling the iPhone.
Research shows that in every country where there is more than one operator selling it, it is cheaper, Steven Hartley, analyst at technology research house Ovum, told The Telegraph. It could be very disruptive, but it depends how Orange play it. If they get really aggressive O2 will have to respond and a full-on price war could start.
The end of the iPhone exclusivity abroad has brought concerns about the exclusivity in the United States as Apple's contract with AT&T is set to expire as early as next year.
Apple might be close to announcing a partnership with Verizon Wireless so that the data-centric iPhone will be offered through a new wireless provider, giving the public a choice of wireless providers besides AT&T, according to UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard Um.
The move would provide a major boost to iPhone sales, Michael Scalis, an IT manager based in Alameda, California said.
The iPhone is appealing for a great number of people, but AT&T, the notorious wireless provider, turns out to be a deal breaker despite the fact it pays handsomely for the privilege. Providing a second provider would capture these customers.
Besides, jumping from AT&T to Verizon will provide current iPhone customers a new phone with a new contract, an ideal opportunity for those who wants to upgrade to the 3GS.