o2 to finally launch iPhone in UK

Loads of media reports today about o2 getting the Apple iPhone. I will hunt around for more details. Despite already having a wonderful iPhone working here in the UK, I could well become an o2 customer if the UK iPhone is 3g… A pipe dream perhaps?

So, the details? Well, sketchy. The full gossip should be with us by tomorrow, but the leaks are dribbling out.

The paper with the details is the Guardian’s Media section (do have a look, they’ve had a nice face lift on the Guardian site).

The key paragraphs:

The UK’s largest mobile operator came from behind at the last minute to seal an agreement with Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, to market the iPhone in the UK, but one other operator described the deal as “madly money-losing”.

O2 is understood to have agreed a margin on the retail price – to be confirmed tomorrow – but will return to Apple as much as 40% of any revenues it makes from customers’ use of the device.

The price of the combined phone and iPod can be changed by Apple at any time, as happened recently in the US. Out of O2’s share also comes a commission and further revenue share with Carphone Warehouse, which is understood to have secured the right to be the sole independent retailer of the device on behalf of O2.

Vodafone were reportedly deeply unimpressed at Apple’s ‘divide and conquer’ approach negotiating with the UK operators.

Permit me the opportunity of a deep big smile. These operators have had us — the consumers — over a barrel for decades (It’s STILL 35p a minute to call someone on a different mobile network from Vodafone, after you’ve gone over your minutes). So it’s rather exciting to hear reports of operators getting upset.

And upset they should be. The iPhone isn’t perfect. But it’s next-century compared to your standard Nokias and Samsungs. It’s going to be interesting to see how the UK normobs react to the Carphone Warehouse and o2 marketing the hell out of the iPhone.

Given a choice between a Sony Ericsson W-something or an iPhone, it ain’t difficult to work out which one the customer will want. Obviously the up-front cost of the hardware is a bit of an arse for us here in the UK, we’re used to getting devices for next to nothing. But there will be uptake. On that, you can bet your top of the range N95.

It’s good news for o2. Sort of. They’ll get a short term kick from the churning users. But … now that you can EASILY unlock your iPhone… what’s to keep people from swapping? The major barrier is the price of the device, though. That’s going to keep the market moving relatively normally — as most normobs aren’t going to be too impressed at having to spunk 300+ pounds on a device… but most of the country will be coveting the devices, they really will.

If the iPhone is slightly different, I’ve already worked out my strategy. If they’ve upgraded it to 3g — which, well, now that we’re seeing news of o2’s ‘EDGE’ network up and running, looks a bit iffy — I’ll get it. And hand the current iPhone to my equally sexy girlfriend.

So, let’s standby and watch.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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