iPhone prices slashed as operators prepare for new product, and will O2 lose UK exclusivity?

The likelihood of a mid-summer launch of a new Apple iPhone has increased several notches with the announcement from O2 that it will dramatically cut the price of the existing 3G device. The intent is to clear current inventory in time for a June or July launch of what is being dubbed a Nano version of the current iPhone. The Austrian iPhone carrier T-Mobile dropped its iPhone prices in January, also perhaps to get rid of inventory.

What has also come under the spotlight is the stated "multi-year and multi-device" exclusivity contract O2 has for the iPhone in the UK, after Orange was reported to be in negotiations with Apple to make the next iPhone available on its UK network. Orange currently sells the iPhone in 27 countries, including France.

The specification of the new Apple handset remains at best vague, but with most speculation being that the "Nano iPhone" will be a smaller, mid-range version of the 3G iPhone, that will be cheaper, with lower spec memory, camera or screen size.

Gartner reported last week that, despite disappointing sales in the last quarter of 2008, the iPhone was the fastest-growing smartphone of 2008 with a sales increase of more than 240 per cent.

For more on this story:
Mobile Today and Mobile Choice

Related stories:
iPhone boosts data 30x for T-Mobile Germany
European operators slash iPhone prices
2008 Year in Review: Apple's iPhone becomes the benchmark
Bouygues Telecom maps out French iPhone offer