Cutting Room: iPhone distribution

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Orange’s iPhone channel strategy
Dealers’ early excitement and Apple’s decision to open up UK distribution of its iPhone handsets was premature.

The message from Orange is that, yes, dealers will receive stock of the device, but only very few dealers.

The O2 model is instructive. It took its Advance partners first, having kept the device for itself and Carphone for a good period already. Most of the channel was still cut out of the loop.

Orange, and Vodafone, will follow suit, except their chosen dealer allies will be selected and handed some stock sooner. But there will be fewer of them than anticipated.

Will JAG get the iPhone? Will Intek get the iPhone? Will Go Mobile and Get Connected get the iPhone? Only if they show the agility and willing to jump through the neccessary hoops, put down by Apple. Certainly the fact they are ‘confederated’ dealers will count for little.

What of Mainline, Midland, HSC, Avenir, Fone Logistics? Fat chance, in the near future at least. No way will Apple let something as unknowable and anonymous as third-party distribution hawk its precious brand.

More likely a band of carefully-vetted B2B dealers, signed up to all kinds of jargon-heavy and long-winded terms, will get first dibs, some weeks after Orange, Carphone and Phones 4U have had the novelty of pushing an Orange-optimised iPhone.

Orange’s plan for mad MVNO growth
If Orange has done its maths correctly, and it’s true it stands to gain an extra two million customers each year through its new niche market MVNO strategy, we can expect to see even more intense retention strategies put into place by rival networks over the next year.

We can also expect to see T-Mobile rub its hands with glee to have made such a business agreement with a partner whose customer base is to grow so sharply.

Full article in Mobile News issue 450 (October 19, 2009).

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