Mobile phone giant Vodafone will muscle into the iPhone market on January 14 with its UK launch of the popular handset, the company said today.
Vodafone will become the third network to offer the phone after O2 – which had the original exclusive deal for the handset’s UK launch in 2007 – and Orange.
The company agreed a deal with manufacturer Apple in September to sell the iPhone 3G as well as the updated iPhone 3GS, which is twice as fast as the original.
The mobile giant did not secure the agreement for Christmas, leaving rival operators O2 and Orange to go head-to-head over the festive period.
But Newbury-based Vodafone added that “hundreds of thousands” of its customers had pre-ordered the handset through its website and will get the handsets in mid-January.
Vodafone, which is also offering the iPhone to business customers through 20 dealerships, has been preparing its network for more than a year in readiness for the handset, and launched its own online store for applications.
Jeni Munday, the firm’s chief technical officer, said: “If the past was about voice the future is about data and it is things like the iPhone which are going to bring this to life.”
The cheapest deal available sees the iPhone 3G available for £30 (€33.63) a month on a two-year contract, after a £59 (€66.16) upfront fee for the phone.
Vodafone will also hope that having the iPhone in its armoury will give its UK business a shot in the arm amid tough competition.
Recent results for the six months to September 30 showed operating profits fell to £75m (€84m) from £182m (€204m) a year earlier, with a 5.7% drop in UK revenues.
The recently agreed merger of T-Mobile and Orange saw Vodafone drop to third place in the UK market behind the new combination and O2, which is owned by Spain’s Telefonica.