iPhone comes to Vodafone as well as Orange – App devs start your engines

Boom! Orange will sell the iPhone 3G/3GS in the UK. Boom! Vodafone will sell the iPhone 3G/3GS in the UK. It’s a double whammy for Apple in a key European market, one which, under incumbent O2, has seen iPhone sales soar to a million handsets, while rivals have lost customers and revenue as people eat up all that data using iPhone apps and surfing the mobile web.

O2’s monopoly is now doubly broken, and it will also have the headache of having to compete not just on price but on coverage. Orange, which has had 65,000 reservations for the handset in just a couple of days, claims wider, faster 3G coverage than O2, with 93% of the population, compared with O2’s 80%. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao told investors on the company’s latest earnings call that not having the iPhone has hindered the network.

Vodafone will sell the 3G and 3GS models from “early 2010” in the UK and Ireland (its twelfth and thirteenth iPhone country deals).
It will therefore miss out on the Christmas sales Orange will benefit from but, in all other respects, the iPhone is poised to hit mainstream in the UK.

iPhone app developers here will be rubbing their hands together at the thought of millions of new potential customers coming on stream.

No details yet on Vodafone’s or Orange’s pricing for the iPhone but analysts say price will be a big factor.