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?

People queuing for iPhone 3GS outside O2 store

It's clearly an exciting time for Orange customers too, although they'll have to wait and see what tariffs and deals the network offers up. What we do know at present is that the iconic device will be available on Orange by the end of this year.

However, Vodafone customers will have to wait a little longer. The company has announced that it will be offering the iPhone from early 2010, but it is remaining tight-lipped on the rest, going as far as saying it couldn't provide comment for this feature due to an agreement with Apple.

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Without specific details, it's hard to gauge exactly how well users will do if O2, Orange and Vodafone jump in the ring and try and bash it out for cost-effective dominance. But increased competition usually brings with it better deals for consumers and businesses as companies try and garner loyalty and entice prey from the opposition, so we can assume a little.

Indeed, the little we can assume will mean quite a lot to users, according to experts.

"With the three major networks now selling the iPhone it finally makes it a true mass market device," Matthew Wheeler, managing director of Omio.com, said in a statement.

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"The must-have mobile now becomes accessible to everyone. Expect prices to fall in time for the Christmas where it is likely to become one of the top selling devices this year."

Steven Hartley, principal analyst at Ovum, concurred with Wheeler's thoughts in a recent research note.

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"A three-way battle will result in cheaper tariffs, as the research for our iPhone tariff strategies report concluded. Vodafone and Orange will aggressively target O2's iPhone customers. Those signing up for the 3G iPhone at launch will be coming to the end of their 18-month tariff in January 2010, including those customers that upgraded from the 2G version," he said.

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