As expected, Orange has managed to break O2's exclusivity deal with Apple, nearly two years after the Cupertino-based company launched the iPhone on the Telefonica-owned network.
The network, which is set to become the largest mobile network in the UK after announcing a strategic partnership with T-Mobile, has yet to confirm when and how much the iPhone will cost on its network.
Interestingly, contrary to expectations, even the iPhone 3GS, rather than the older iPhone 3G, will be available through all its outlets; online, high street, on the phone and possibly through third parties like Carphone Warehouse.
Whispers about a potential iPhone/Orange tie-up first emerged back in July 2008 before appearing again in March 2009. The formal agreement between Apple and O2 ends formally on the 9th of October, which is friday.
It is likely that O2 was already aware of the decision of Apple to get Orange onboard the iPhone bandwagon, which is why they managed to bag the UK exclusivity for the Palm Pre (although we firmly believe the Pre can't replace the iPhone for O2).
Orange lost the exclusivity on the iPhone to Bouygues-Telecom in France but still continue to sell the iPhone in 28 territories worldwide which means that the two companies enjoy a very good relationship overall.
Expect a full blown marketing campaign from Orange to start soon, ramping up just before Christmas. Customers looking to get one from Orange can register their interest here.
The ink on the contract has yet to dry and we can only salivate at the sight of a massive confrontation between O2 and Orange with the customers (and Apple) between the winners. Orange is set to become the biggest network in the UK with 37 percent marketshare which is possibly why Apple decided to allow Orange to sell the iPhone.