Tesco is planning to offer the iPhone 3G and 3GS, hopefully before Christmas, proving that Apple's status symbol is now the phone of the people.
Tesco will be selling both models of iPhone, on-line and in stores, but they're not promising to have them available before Christmas as there are logistical issues to sort out, including pricing and service availability.
Tesco Mobile is hosted by O2, and jointly owned by the two companies, so technically it's no great surprise to see the iPhone in the supermarket. But Tesco Mobile has always focused on the lower end of the market - largely pre-pay and offering only a basic range of marginally-subsidised handsets. The addition of the iPhone takes it distinctly upmarket, or drags the iPhone down depending on one's point of view.
But from Apple's point of view the supermarket is a good partner - Tesco won't be competing with iTunes or offering its own version of MobileMe. The supermarket will happily let Apple provide the services, sitting on O2's network, while it makes money selling the phones without paying to staff a Genius Bar or the other paraphernalia that makes a visit to an Apple store such a sublime experience.
Tesco probably won't sell a lot of iPhones - what with Tesco customers not falling into the traditional demographic - but it will add to the ubiquity of the product and there's time yet for Apple to sign a deal with Waitrose. ®