Theregister.co.uk, a technology website, reports that T-Mobile UK, the German-owned operator that is the fourth-biggest player in the British mobile market, is in talks with Apple about a distribution agreement for the iPhone 3G.
This would end the exclusivity that O2 has enjoyed since theiPhone was launched in Britain in 2007.
Theregister.co.uk said that the talks concerned only distribution of the iPhone 3G and that, regardless of the outcome of Apple’s talks with T-Mobile UK, O2 would retain exclusivity for the iPhone 3GS — the newer, faster model launched by Apple last month. It said that it was also possible that Orange could strike a distribution deal with Apple.
There has been speculation for months that Apple wanted to end its exclusive distribution deals for the iPhone, a move that would also hit AT&T, the handset’s distributor in the United States. Most industry analysts believe that consumer loyalty is primarily to Apple, rather than to network operators such as O2 and AT&T.
Rival operators to the incumbents in France and Germany already offer the iPhone.
The news comes two weeks after it was revealed that Vodafone and O2 have both expressed interest in buying T-Mobile UK.
Ronan Dunne, UK chief executive of O2, said yesterday that Telefónica, O2’s Spanish parent company, was watching developments with interest. He said: “We haven’t explicitly said whether we are participating in anything. To my knowledge, there isn’t a formal [sale] process go-ing on.”
Originally posted at: Times Online