Mobile operator O2 has dismissed as “rumour and speculation” that a deal has been signed with Apple to become the exclusive network partner for iPhone in the UK.
“No deal has been signed by O2 with Apple. We do not comment on rumour and speculation,” the company told siliconrepublic.com.
Various reports claim that O2 was last night poised to clinch exclusive distribution rights of the coveted iPhone for the UK.
Rumours regarding competition for distribution rights in each European country have been rife, with speculation last week citing Vodafone as the likely UK distributor.
Typically, if a UK mobile operator with a sizeable network in Ireland won exclusive rights to a phone, it would have a knock-on effect for the Irish market.
However, it seems that Apple may do things differently, opting for the largest operator in each specific market since no single operator covers the entire European market. This differs from the US, in which AT&T has a full sweep of the nation.
This could lead to a situation where iPhone could end up being distributed by Vodafone in Ireland, O2 in the UK, Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany.
According to a report in the Financial Times this morning, European operators are concerned that Apple could seek more onerous deals than past agreements with other handset makers.
Apple could also seek a staggered approach to the launch of iPhone in Europe, opting for the larger markets first. When the iTunes store launched in Europe it launched first in the UK, France and Germany. The Irish iTunes only launched several months later due to drawn-out negotiations with the local recording industry here.
Sources have told siliconrepublic.com that they believe that by the time the iPhone reaches Ireland, Apple could be ready with a 3G version of the device as well as simultaneously launching the video store on the various European iTunes stores.
By John Kennedy