O2 is on the verge of wrapping up a deal to exclusively sell the Apple iPhone in the UK with a view to launching the iPod-based handset by Christmas.
A number of Europe's largest operators have been linked with a deal to sell the iPhone in Europe over recent weeks. It is understood that formal deals are now imminent and that O2 is about to sign a contract to sell the handset in the UK. It is understood that T-Mobile, Germany's largest operator, will sell the iPhone exclusively in Germany, while Orange, France's largest mobile phone company, has won the race to sell the handset in France. The iPhone is due to launch across those territories in November.
There has yet to be official confirmation of any deals and a spokesman for the UK's largest mobile operator said: "O2 has not signed a deal with Apple." None of the mobile phone operators would comment on the process given the complexity of negotiations with Apple.
Competition among mobile phone operators for a deal with Apple has been fierce, with the iPod maker understood to have driven a hard bargain. One source said that securing the most talked about handset of all time on an exclusive basis and making the economics work had proved a tough balancing act.