Speculation was rife this week that O2 was about to sign a deal for UK distribution of the hypefest which is the Apple iPhone, though on Monday it seemed that Vodafone would be getting the deal, and prior to that those in the know were saying Carphone Warehouse was a dead cert.
Make no mistake; Apple will be talking to all those people, as well as the other operators, and indeed anyone who will listen to their pitch that previous business models are dead, and the iPhone represents the future.
Right now any UK deal is not beyond the round-of-golf stage; possibly being discussed in a few boardrooms, but nothing more than that. Part of the problem is the iPhone's lack of 3G capability which, in the UK, is a political problem as much as a technical one.
Network operators spent billions rolling out 3G, and even now are spending millions more deploying HSDPA, so to turn round and say that EDGE is basically good enough would be something of a slap in the face to the shareholders who are funding those deployments. Which leaves the British waiting for the promised 3G version of the iPhone; possibly this year, but more likely 2008.
The only possible exception to this would be Carphone Warehouse, or one of the other MVNOs; who don't have the legacy of an investment in 3G, though few have the retail infrastructure that Apple would want.
The idea that any UK network operator has agreed a launch date, and retail price, for the iPhone is pure fantasy. Such things won't be sorted out until much closer to any launch, and will depend on market conditions at that time, but it's much more fun to speculate and if you can report such details as fact (as some news services have done) then all the better.
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