iPhone, exclusivity and the great British public

As one exclusive mobile network contract is signed, another one ends and devices open up to more operators. But what does this mean for users?

Many users already buy unlocked iPhones from other countries to use on their own network over here and there have been reports of operators doing the same, although such claims have yet to be confirmed.

A recent report by analyst Strand Consult suggested that nabbing the iPhone is not necessarily the cash cow that operators believe it to be as many of the customers they obtain as a result were already customers to begin with.

"You really do not need to use advanced maths to prove that the iPhone is not a magnet that attracts new customers and that it does not help increase an operator's market share," the company said in a note publicising the report.

"...In fact, it would not be wrong to claim that the iPhone is helping stimulate operators' churn on their own customer base - and thereby negatively influencing their business case. The bottom line is that the iPhone is not the customer magnet that many have been claiming - quite on the contrary."

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Strand Consult's theory is borne out, to an extent, by additional research released this week by TNS. It surveyed mobile users to find out how many of them want to get their hands on the Palm Pre when it makes its debut on 16 October.

Let battle commence

More than a quarter of users said they are keen to own a Pre, the latest handset to be dubbed an iPhone killer.' This figure more than overshadowed the level of interest shown in the first iPhone in a survey TNS carried out in 2007, which reported a figure of just 16 per cent.

Some 27 per cent of existing O2 customers were interested in owning a Pre, according to the research. This compares to just 17 per cent of existing O2 customers who wanted to get an iPhone when it first came out.

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