Orange will make available the Apple iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S in the UK in a phased rollout via its direct retail channels, its high street partners Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U and also a restricted number of third-party independent retailers.
Its new HMV concessions will also stock iPhones.
Orange’s direct channels will get a headstart on the device, followed by the big high street multiples and then certain dealer partners.
O2 has enjoyed an exclusive “multi-year” distribution deal on the device in the UK to now. It launched the original iPhone handset in its UK stores on November 9, 2007. Mobile News understands Orange will start to sell the device from mid-November, when the two-year exclusive with O2 has elapsed.
Orange has so far refused to confirm the launch date for the iPhone through its channels.
Orange said 100,000 people in the UK pre-registered their interest in the device via its website in the first four days of announcement of its distribution deal with Apple.
Orange UK vice president of sales and loyalty Guillaume van Gaver (pictured) said: “It is a multi-channel, phased approach for Q4 to capture a broad audience. We are going to launch the iPhone in the UK with some major players – with Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U, and also through our HMV concessions and our best dealer and distributor partners.”
Van Gaver said Orange will confirm timing, pricing and partner identities for sale of the device later in October.
He said limited third-party independents will be selected according to the quality of service they can guarantee customers, and also the depth of training they can engage with Orange for. “We are looking for quality, not quantity within the dealer channel,” said van Gaver. “We are discussing with Apple strong quality candidates, which provide excellent customer focus.”
Mobile News understands Apple will vet Orange’s dealer and distributor partners to guage quality. It is likely wider distribution of the iPhone from Orange will largely follow O2’s model, which saw its leading B2B partners come on board first among dealers.
Orange will, however, make it available to some of its leading dealer retailers through this quarter and the first quarter of 2010, although it is understood ‘confederated’ status (its band of elite partners trading with it directly) does not neccessarily confer distribution rights to the iPhone.