Vodafone told reporters at a recent meeting that it is willing to sell Apple's latest iPhone 3GS smartphone in key territories including the UK and Germany.
Andy Halford, chief financial officer of the company, said that "It's a good product and we would love to have it in the portfolio in more countries". Vodafone is currently selling the iPhone 3GS in 11 countries worldwide but not in the three main European countries, France, UK and Germany.
The world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue has been badly affected by O2's exclusivity agreement with Apple and attributed some of the 160,000 customers it lost during the last quarter to the lure of the iPhone. It now has 18.6 million UK customers.
T-Mobile, Orange and Vodafone are very interested to break O2's exclusivity over the iPhone; the strategic partnership the Telefonica owned company has with Apple ends very soon and more intense competition could help Apple capture a bigger share of the smartphone market.
Vodafone is in the process of slashing annual costs by £1 billion over the next couple of years and has already slashed its number of employees by 1800.
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Vodafone could also be looking to buy 3 Mobile instead and zap an increasingly popular competitor. Having 3 out of the picture means that operators would be able to increase their margins and eliminate the threat associated with voice over IP (three is the only one which allows Skype).