iPhone: O2 exclusivity ends in October

Having been rumoured for some months, O2 UK looks set to lose that exclusivity despite statements that it has a multi-year agreement with Apple.

According to those close to the situation, documents have been leaked that state explicitly that the arrangement will end on October 9, with Orange and T-Mobile the apparent favorites to start marketing the 3G version of the iPhone. O2 will retain exclusive rights to sell the new 3G S for an undisclosed period.

Seemingly, Vodafone remains off the iPhone list, although only a few months ago the company worked hard on reshaping its portal to be iPhone compatible -- but at the time refused to acknowledge that there was any subterfuge behind this move.

To complicate the matter, T-Mobile UK has been importing as many iPhones as it can purchase in Europe and offering them to discontented subscribers on the verge of churning. However, the company has made a muddle of its iPhone tariffs with the result that its offer compares poorly with O2's -- and T-Mobile's package doesn't include the latest 3G S iPhone. Orange is also said to be offering high-spending subscribers the iPhone as part of its customer retention programme.

What is apparent from this iPhone distribution model is the growing likelihood of consumer confusion and disillusionment.

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[This article originally appeared in FierceWireless]