Paul: Battle for the iPhone throne


As predicted, a fierce battle has broken out between the three networks that will stock Apple iPhones as O2’s exclusive hold over the devices came to an end this week.

Orange, which began selling the iPhone on November 10, is promoting its high level of network coverage, prompted by the Ofcom 3G coverage maps that came out earlier this year showing how widespread Orange’s 3G network actually is. Its £4 million ‘You’re covered’ advertising campaign launched last week and features the iPhone from this week.

Vodafone is trying to convince people to wait until early next year before purchasing an iPhone, sending an email out to people who registered on the Vodafone website. But it is also playing the coverage game, and in this email Vodafone promotes its high-speed data network instead of mentioning costs, which leads us to think that pricing won’t be radically different to what we already know from O2 and Orange.

Within the email, Vodafone has also taken the opportunity to push its femtocell offering almost as a one-up to Orange’s coverage play, which promises to increase coverage and data speeds within a home or office.

But not to be outdone by its Johnny-come-lately rivals, O2 has hit back with a series of incentives itself. It has announced the iPhone Total Connectivity Bolt On, which allows new and existing iPhone customers to purchase the iPhone Internet Tethering bolt on and receive the standard O2 Home Broadband package free.

O2 has also announced the release of Sky Mobile TV for iPhone, an extension of the existing Sky Player for PC, Mac and Xbox. Customers can get access to a selection of television channels, including Sky Sports, Sky News, ESPN and At The Races for £6 a month.

O2 users can get the first three months free if they’re one of the first 150,000 people to buy an iPhone before the promotion ends on February 9, 2010, New customers can text ‘SKY’ to 2020 to get a promotional code to enable the free access. The service is accessible over Wi-Fi only.

Its clear these moves from O2 are a bid to counteract promotions from Vodafone and Orange and make customers remember who had the iPhone first and that it might know the product best. We will be watching to see who comes out as the iPhone network of choice.