Apple Inc. ended weeks of speculation, by announcing Tuesday that it has selected O2, a leading wireless carrier in the UK, to exclusively offer the iPhone in the UK. The iPhone will debut in the UK on November 9, and comes bundled with unlimited free Wi-Fi access.
Apple sold its one millionth iPhone 74 days after it went on sale in the US on June 29, the company said. In the US, the company has an exclusive tie-up with AT&T for the iPhone.
By appointing exclusive carriers for each country for the much coveted iPhone, Apple is able to get better deals with the operator including better commercial terms, according to analysts.
AT&T, which in the past has demanded control over what software and applications go into end-user devices, had had to concede ground to Apple. In that sense Apple has shifted the balance of power in the mobile carrier market.
iPhone users in the UK will be able to activate their new iPhones using Apple’s iTunes software running on a PC or Mac computer, without having to wait in a store while their phone is activated. Once iPhone is activated, users can then easily sync all of their phone numbers and other contact information, calendars, email accounts, web browser bookmarks, music, photos, podcasts and TV shows just like they do when they sync their iPods with iTunes, Apple said.
iPhone will be sold exclusively in the UK through Apple’s retail and online stores, O2 and The Carphone Warehouse’s retail and online stores. iPhone will be available in an 8GB model for 269 pounds sterling (inc VAT) and will work with either a PC or Mac. Three iPhone tariffs plans will be available from O2 starting at 35 pounds, which all include unlimited anytime, anywhere mobile data usage and free unlimited use of the Wi-Fi network, Apple said.
O2 UK is part of Telefonica O2 Europe which comprises mobile network operators in the UK, Ireland and Slovakia along with integrated fixed and mobile businesses in Germany and the Czech Republic. Telefonica O2 Europe also owns 50 percent of the Tesco Mobile and Tchibo Mobilfunk joint venture businesses in the UK and Germany respectively as well as having 100 percent ownership of Be, a leading UK fixed broadband provider. It is not clear at this point whether O2 will be the carrier as Apple expands in other European markets.
With the November 9 launch, Apple is in good time for Christmas shopping in the UK, where, if the experience in the US is any pointer, the iPhone will figure in a number of Santa’s lists.