iPhones could go on sale on networks other than O2 within a matter of weeks, it has been claimed.
Earlier this week, it emerged that Orange and T-Mobile are lobbying Apple for the right to sell iPhones in the UK. Reports suggested that while neither firm was in line to secure rights to the iPhone 3G S, a deal that allowed them access to the earlier iPhone 3G was possible.
In the event that the Cupertino-based firm extended its range of carriers in the UK, it would bring an end to O2’s exclusivity deal which has been in place since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.
Orange has yet to confirm or deny the conjecture, while a spokesperson for T-Mobile has sought to play down the reports by dismissing them as “purely speculation”.
However, a subsequent news item from Mobile Today has claimed that the wheels are already in motion on opening up iPhones to rival vendors and that they could go on sale in as little as six weeks time. This is when O2’s exclusive deal with Apple expires.
The site also reports that T-Mobile has started to brief its staff that it could be in line to sell iPhones – further substantiating the speculation.
Jessica McArdle, marketing manager at Top 10 Mobile Phones, said: “A partnership with T-Mobile or Orange would see take-up of the new iPhone sky-rocket and would offer a great opportunity to see the iPhone go head-to-head with the bestselling T-Mobile G1."
News of developments comes amid some strong consumer criticism from O2 over its iPhone 3G S mobile phone deals. The company’s policy of denying immediate upgrades for owners of iPhone 3G phones has proved especially controversial.
Meanwhile, O2's price points for the phone have also been lambasted, as has the company's decision to charge owners extra to harness the mobile’s tethering function and use the handset as a mobile broadband dongle.
T-Mobile already sells iPhones in selected overseas territories - a relationship which is thought likely would bolster its standing with Apple in the UK.