Vodafone Gets UK iPhone, But Don’t Expect A Price Crash

Mobility

By next year, three operators – O2, Orange and Vodafone – will have the iPhone in the UK. But the price competition won’t be fierce, say analysts

UK customers are expecting price reductions as three major networks will have the iPhone 3GS, demolishing the current exclusive deal with O2.

It was announced yesterday that Orange will have the phones before Christmas – while Vodafone will apparently not be shipping the iPhone in the UK and Ireland until early 2010. Vodafone UK customers can register their interest at a pre-register site

Although Vodafone, like Orange, has not announced the launch date, or exact tariffs for the iPhone, there will cleary be dramatic price falls as competition opens up.

It was widely expected that O2’s iPhone exclusive would end soon, and the operator was criticised for gouging customers for as much money as possible in the deal’s last months. It had been expected that O2 might keep an exclusive on the 3GS, but Orange and Vodafone will get the new phone, which launched htis year.

Most commentators believe that the end of the exclusive is not due to Apple losing power over operators, but to operators’ desperation to have the device.

Apple is understood to demand much greater control of operators’ business plans, and a share of revenue unprecedented in normal operator-manufacturer contracts – all of which may mean that the competition is not as fierce as consumers might hope.

Operators won’t have much room to manoeuvre as they are subsidising the hardware, Carolina Milanesi of analyst firm Gartner told the BBC: “You may see a £30 per month tariff versus £35, but I would not expect anything more.”

Vodafone’s adoption of the iPhone perhaps shows low confidence in the company’s mobile services offering, Vodafone 360 which launched this week, and is seen as an attempt to keep control of mobile services, where the iPhone model hands much of that over to Apple.

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