Popular UK network operator, Orange, has today revealed that it has reached an agreement with Apple to sell iPhones in the country.
This ends the exclusive partnership that network operator O2 enjoyed with Apple over the sale of iPhones in UK for the past two years.
While the exact date for the launch is not announced, we do know that this is going to be "later this year". O2 has had a fruitful partnership. Till the Febrary of this year, over a million handsets were sold and the launch of iPhone 3GS boosted the sales to a great extent. With the new partnership, Britain finally moves out of the unfortunate group of countries where iPhone is still locked with just one operator. As for Orange, the company has already sold iPhones in over 28 countries and territories.
It will be interesting to see how much O2 is affected by the new partnership. The rise of smartphone usage has impacted the operator networks. According to Dave McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, iPhone users are known to use data quite extensively and as the sole carrier for iPhones in the UK, O2 has had problems in the past few months in upgrading their network to match the growth in the number of iPhone users. With O2 also in agreement with Pam to sell their iPhone competitor Palm Pre from October 16, a continuance of the exclusive partnership with Apple could have back-fired.
Orange on the other hand, is in the process of a merger with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile which will make them the largest network carrier in the UK with 37% market share. If this merger deal is through, Orange shall be in a position to take advantage of T-Mobile's carrier capacity to lessen the burden on their network.
We are still not sure about how the pricing strategy of Orange will pan out. It is to be seen if Orange will reduce the price to make their offering more competitive or sell it at a price higher than O2's iPhone in exchange for better network experience. Either ways, it is going to be an exciting time for the Apple's UK customers.
If you're reading this in the UK, let us know if you plan to switch to Orange when they start selling the iPhone, recently declared as UK's coolest brand.
[via BBC News]