O2 wins UK iPhone? Fever mounts

Until an Apple person stands up in front of a bank of journalists and bloggers tomorrow and utters the name of the carrier to win the iPhone, we won’t know for definite.

However it is hard to ignore the wave of stories out today naming 02 as the network, with Carphone Warehouse as the independent distributor. These chime in with our own story that 02 won the iPhone deal some weeks ago, after brinkmanship tactics employed by Apple with all the network providers.

The Guardian today is reporting that the O2 deal is done, as is the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the FT yesterday. All say Orange and T-Mobile are signing similar deals in France and Germany respectively – also confirmed today by TechCrunch France.

The nature of those deals remain secret, but the rumour-mills are reporting back that the O2/CW deal is punishing, with the carrier agreeing that as much as 40% of revenues from the iPhone will go back to Apple. This is being treated as a money-losing deal by City insiders, and not favourably either.
Furthermore, there is a consensus emerging around the view that the recently launched iPod Touch could seriously dent sales of the iPhone, given its similar features. The Touch – launched only at the beginning of this month – had not been announced when the contracts for the iPhone were being signed, though US carrier AT&T may have known about it.
We also need a reality check here: Apple is likely to remain a niche player on European mobile scene. It may have sold a million devices in 10 weeks in the US, but Nokia sells a million mobile devices every day.

Still, TechCrunch UK will be blogging the event live tomorrow, so stay tuned.