Apple dumps operator exclusivity deal

With both Telecom Italia and Vodafone now having the ability to market the iPhone in Italy, other European operators must be studying their iPhone distribution contracts given the understanding that they had a two-year exclusivity period.

This move by Apple followed the company agreeing to a 10-country distribution deal with Vodafone that will cover Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India, The Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Portugal, South Africa and Turkey.

"This is definitely a sign Apple is capitulating," Will Draper, an analyst at Execution, said. "The initial model was that Apple would give the iPhone to a network on an exclusive basis, but in Europe, where you have the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson selling sophisticated 3G devices, the iPhone simply isn't seen as such a premium product."

"Apple is realising that it should be making the iPhone as widespread as possible-- Vodafone having taken the view in Italy that it is not willing to share revenues for what will likely be a mediocre product," said Draper.

A comment from RBC Capital Markets' Mike Abramsky, who attended a meeting with Apple's senior management, has suggested that the company is looking to ship 14 million iPhones this year, helped by the 3G version that is expected to be announced within weeks.

For more on this story:
-read The Times and Apple Insider

Related stories:
China Mobile: Still no formal iPhone talks. China Mobile story 
iPhone boosts T-Mobile data traffic by 30%. T-Mobile story