Apple and Vodafone have announced this morning that they have signed a deal that will see the iPhone available to Vodafone customers in the UK & Ireland from early 2010. The announcement follows a deal agreed earlier this week for Orange to sell the iPhone in the UK including Northern Ireland.
The move could see a significant price war between the operators as O2 attempts to hold onto the market share it has gained during the period since 2007 that it has had exclusive iPhone distribution.
In the UK, Vodafone, the second largest operator, admits O2’s exclusive iPhone deal hurt its British business. It was the largest UK operator until 2006 and many analysts attribute O2's gains to the iPhone deal.
Crucially, Vodafone will not have the iPhone available until early next year, missing an opportunity to capitalise on the lucrative Christmas market. In Northern Ireland, Orange customers will be able to get their hands on the iPhone in their Christmas stockings.