David Prosser: Who's Apple gonna call?

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The Independent Online

Outlook Ironically, the continued stonking success of Apple's iPhone could be bad news for O2, the mobile phone network hat has exclusive rights to sell the handset in the UK. One reason Apple has chosen to sell its phones through a single network in most countries is that the gadget was intended to be a top-end purchase, rather than a mass-market device. Apple's latest sales figures, however, suggest the mass market is very much embracing the iPhone.

In which case, might the US company be tempted to drop its strategy of exclusivity when part of its contract with O2 comes up for renegotiation later this year? There is no doubt that rival networks would like to be able to sell iPhones. Internet blogs report that sales staff at T-mobile, for example, are already telling customers they may be able to sell iPhones in the near future.

However, one other factor might influence Apple's strategy in Britain. O2 has just secured exclusive UK rights to the Palm Pre, the one smartphone that analysts believe might be able to knock the iPhone off its perch. It won't be available in this country until the end of the year, but if O2 were to lose its lucrative iPhone deal, it might be tempted to really give the Palm Pre a mega-marketing push. And maybe Apple might feel threatened by that.