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Apple Shows UK Networks Who's The Daddy With iPhone Saga

If there's one thing we learnt from Apple this week with the iPhone is how it can make the biggest mobile networks in the world eat in its hands.

The three mobile phone networks vying for Apple's attention in the UK have a joint user base of 750 million customers worldwide and an estimated market capitalisation of around 500 billion pounds; yet they acted like three young men looking to attract the attention of the most beautiful girl in town.

The revelations by the Telegraph that Orange had signed the deal one year ago and had to stay silent for more than one year (or risk the wrath of Jobs' legal eagle) and that Vodafone had to recruit temporary staff to prevent any leaks show how desperate both parties were to get in bed with Apple.

As for O2's behaviour, it is fairly typical of someone being dumped. The Telefonica-owned network has already been tied with a number of iPhone lookalikes/substitutes like the Palm Pre and the Samsung i7500, none of which have the same clout as the iPhone.

But it hasn't prevented O2 from saying that it will neither infirm or confirm whether it will allow those who leave the network at the end of their contract to keep their iPhone.

Still, Apple's PR master coup, as the Telegraph coined it, leaves the mobile phone operators in the position of the prey, rather than the predator, a situation they are not used to. Before the iPhone, it was the networks who dictate their terms and conditions.

Apple managed to do quite the opposite, even asking for what was once considered as taboo; demanding a share of future user revenues.

But this will certainly not go without consequences, the iPhone saga has shown that Apple can induce dissensions and mistrust in one company, even at the highest levels.

The Telegraph says that "even Guy Laurence, Vodafone’s UK chief executive, is thought to have been excluded from the discussions" while only around a dozen people at Orange (out of more than 100,000 employees that France Telecom has) knew about the transaction.

Even fewer Apple UK staff were aware of the discussions it has emerged. Even more incredible is that Apple conducted talks simultaneously with Orange and Vodafone without both parties being aware.

Just like that gorgeous ladette going to two dates one after the other with the boys blissfully unaware.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.