Earlier today, Orange announced that it will be offering the iPhone 3G and 3GS to UK consumers later on this year. This will mark the first time that customers in the UK have a choice of network operator when wanting to purchase an iPhone; with the device previously being exclusive to O2. Following the announcement, Orange has now revealed a few more details about the launch to TechRadar.
Whilst a launch by Orange around Christmas time was expected, many also believe that O2's existing exclusivity deal for the iPhone will end sometime around or after October 8. This marks two years since it first revealed the deal and means that other carriers would be able to sell the device soon after. An Orange spokesperson hinted to TechRadar that the launch date could be fairly soon, revealing that it "will absolutely be in 2009 and sooner than some people think. It's not going to be Christmas day as some people are saying, we're referring to it as later this year for when [the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS] will be in the shops." There are also expectations that other mobile providers will launch the iPhone on their networks around the same time as Orange.
Regarding pricing, the Orange spokesperson said, "We're actually going to hold back [on price announcements] for some time, as there's no need to alert our competitors about our pricing before we need to [...] It's very important we're competitive [in terms of pricing with O2] and we bring other interesting things to the melting pot. We'll certainly be competitive, and will offer some new angles that are different for Orange customers [over O2's offering]." One of the differences is expected to be the offer of shorter contracts than O2, even if the handset itself is the same price. Orange will probably find it fairly difficult to lower the price of the handset compared to O2 as word is that O2 subsidise the cost to the consumer quite a lot already.
Orange also said that their branding of the device, through the firmware or otherwise, will probably be "relatively minimal" because of Apple's guidelines. The network operator currently offers the iPhone in "28 countries and territories" worldwide. Apple told TechRadar: "We are thrilled to have signed an agreement to bring iPhone to Orange customers in the UK later this year."
O2 earlier said that they will continue to sell the iPhone. "We always knew that iPhone exclusivity was for a limited period of time, but our relationship with Apple continues and will be an ongoing success," a spokesperson said. "We have over 1 million iPhone customers and they remain very important to us."