O2 has been Apple’s exclusive UK carrier for the iPhone since 2007, but yesterday Orange announced that it had managed to break that exclusive stranglehold and would begin selling the iPhone in the year future. Today, it’s Vodafone’s turn: today the carrier announced it too would be selling the iPhone 3G and 3GS in the UK and Ireland beginning in early 2010. As with Orange’s announcement, Vodafone hasn’t set a specific date that the iPhone will become available, nor has it announced pricing or tariffs—but customers who are interested can pre-register now to get the latest info as it becomes available. While Orange looks to be getting set to offer the iPhone before the end of 2009, Vodafone will clearly be waiting until 2010.
Two carriers breaking O2’s exclusivity on the iPhone has industry watchers speculating that Apple will also open up iPhone sales to carriers in other currently-exclusive markets like Spain…and, of course, the United States, where many iPhone users are famously frustrated with AT&T’s service.
Analysts have generally agreed that O2 has benefitted tremendously from its early lock on the iPhone, with most estimates having the iPhone account for more than 10 percent of the carriers pre-tax earnings and contributing substantially to its subscriber growth.