Will Vodafone get the iPhone? Yes, if Apple breaks its O2 exclusive to make it open season. And possibly, if Apple chooses only one other partner to run alongside O2 distribution.
Certainly, in the latter instance, Vodafone looks to be a good fit. Of all network operators, it has a similar brand profile to O2 in the UK.
But will an O2-like operator serve Apple in the same way as a market opposite, like T-Mobile and to a lesser extent Orange? Possibly.
The Apple devices in question are old versions of the iPhone, and have migrated onto prepay and could boost any network brand.
With T-Mobile, the question is whether its present strategy would allow for customer acquisition on such a premium handset. It looks to be unwilling, in general, to fork out for new business until it is sure its existing business is profitable.
If current operator negotiations with Apple are for a single distribution slot, Orange and Vodafone look more likely.
But how much ground would they cede to obtain an Apple contract, and how much has it cost them to do without?
Perhaps the question is better phrased: how much would their long term manufacturer partners lose, and how would the networks let them lose in pursuit of Apple and the targets it puts down?