Rumour: Apple to break O2 exclusivity on iPhone 3G [UK]

British publication, Mobile Today, are reporting that Apple is poised to break O2's exclusive agreement for the iPhone 3G in 6 weeks time.

Apple will reportedly open the iPhone 3G to Orange and T-Mobile in a bid to boost sales. According to Mobile Today's sources the exclusivity will end as early as September, breaking Apple's two year exclusive deal with O2. However, Apple will continue to offer exclusivity to O2 for its' new iPhone 3GS device.

Orange and T-Mobile both sell the iPhone in other countries and are keen to offer the device in the UK. Mobile Today claims that sources said "O2 has been furious with the news and is concerned potential rivals will undercut its prices on the older model."

If the report is accurate then this could end O2's monopoly on the iPhone device and force prices down for the older 3G models and associated contracts. It's a good move for competition and consumers.

Update: O2 has supplied a short statement to Neowin (via Twitter) regarding this news stating "we have a multiyear exclusive with Apple - I'd suggest speaking to them about this." An Apple spokesperson declined to comment, claiming "Apple doesn't comment on rumour or speculation."

Image credit: iPhone buzz

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31 Comments

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Dudero said,
I would like to see same kind of release in Finland also. We're just tied to crappy TeliaSonera operator.

not to mention spain. apple's biggest mistake was to team up with the biggest thieves of europe

Because you spell it like that?

I would like an iPhone, but I don't want to have to shell out loads for the extra apps, then using them, then connecting to the "internet" blah blah blah, I like a fixed rate and everything unlimited, like my current contract . . with Vodafone :P

Mr Spoon said,
Because you spell it like that?

, then connecting to the "internet" blah blah blah,


Out of entire curiosity, why "internet"?
Mobile internet access is growing at an exponential rate, and in some circumstances surpasses regular kb/mouse/pc/mac access

Personally i really enjoy being connected "everywhere" (quotation marks clarification: i'm aware you cannot connect literally everywhere)

Very pleased about this. I find the intrinsic linking of hardware to a service provider to be stifling for the consumer.

Having not been able to get an iphone contract as I refuse to go with O2 (bad overpriced contracts and poor service in my region), I was livid to see their best competition the Palm Pre ALSO was then pulled into an exclusivity agreement with O2 (lets guess, with all those overpriced iPhone bills O2 just had more cash to throw at buying more exclusivity agreements than other providers).

Personally I think it's quite anti consumer, anti competitive and bordering on building a monopoly

I hope this is true. I'm with O2, but their pricing on the 3GS is hideous if your contract has even a few months left.

Septimus said,
I hope this is true. I'm with O2, but their pricing on the 3GS is hideous if your contract has even a few months left.

Even when out of contract there hideous!

iPhone what £600 sim free, N97 £500 sim free, and the N97 can be found for free on £40 per month (18mth contract.) On O2 iphone 3Gs is free on £44 (24month contract) Rip Off Britain!

Good news. In Australia here we have them on four carriers (Optus, odafone, 3 and Telstra) across three networks as well as being able to buy it outright. Certainly nice to have some choice.

Its about time. O2 have made enough money on 18-24 month contracts at ~�50 - 60 per month! You're better off with buying one on PAYG.
I cant stand the way the big mobile giants have shafted us over the years, bring on the competition!!!

This is good news. A shame I've still got around 7-8 months left on my 18 month O2 iPhone contract. :(
I'll switch back to Orange once my contract expires as I hate O2 with a passion.

Maybe this will increase sales so much that Apple finally realise that limiting their products to a single carrier actually HURTS their sales, even if you take into account the money single carrier gives them.

Apple can only do this if their exclusivity agreement with O2 is due to expire. If it's not, there's no way they will be able to offer it to other providers without being smacked with a MASSIVE lawsuit by O2.

FloatingFatMan said,
Apple can only do this if their exclusivity agreement with O2 is due to expire. If it's not, there's no way they will be able to offer it to other providers without being smacked with a MASSIVE lawsuit by O2.
Depends how smart they were with their agreement. If Apple stated that they could retract the offer/agreement at any time deemed neccasary by themselves then they can pretty much do what they want.

And Apple VS. o2? We all know who'd win, regardless. They're not silly anyway, I don't think there's foul play.

smooths* said,
And Apple VS. o2? We all know who'd win, regardless. They're not silly anyway, I don't think there's foul play.

O2 is owned by Telefonica, the 3rd largest telecoms company in the world - so don't be too sure on an Apple win!

Good news, I am thinking of getting an iPhone but at todays prices no way. This can only be good for competition. Carriers should not have exclusivity on any device, if just inflates prices!

Tech Star said,
If it happens in the UK then it can happen in the US! Death to exclusivity! Less competition means higher prices!


Are you kidding me, this does not apply to Apple. They just want to sell more iPhone's. Do not expect a price drop on any iPhone until just before a new generation comes out or your buy a refurbished iPhone.

Mikee4fun said,
Are you kidding me, this does not apply to Apple. They just want to sell more iPhone's. Do not expect a price drop on any iPhone until just before a new generation comes out or your buy a refurbished iPhone.

Who was talking about the iPhone hardware pricing? I was talking about the pricing for the plan and the data and all that good stuff that they overcharge just for this phone. Stupid AT&T.

Tech Star, very true and it's also possible the actual hardware pricing could drop too if other networks want to subsidize the device further....

There isn't another network that supports the 3G bands the iPhone has, and Apple isn't going to contract a special phone for a specific market (it's not very cost-effective unless you are talking about a country as large as China).

Until there are HSDPA 3G chips that support all of these bands: 850/900/1700/1900/2100Mhz, then you aren't going to get a universal "world" 3G phone (the lack of 1700Mhz is what makes 3G on the iPhone incompatible with T-Mobile).

How can that be a good thing if you have the old models available??? It would be like purchasing the N95/N96 over the N97 it wouldn't make any sense?