Now this is more like it...
Following yesterday's news that you will soon be able to get the iPhone on Orange, Vodafone has today also crashed O2's once exclusive party with news of its own deal.
Again favouring the unbelievably short press release, the network proclaimed: "Vodafone and Apple today confirmed that they have reached agreement to bring iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS to the UK and Ireland in early 2010. Beginning today, Vodafone UK and Vodafone Ireland customers can register their interest in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS at www.vodafone.co.uk/iphone and www.vodafone.ie/iphone respectively. Pricing, tariffs and availability information will be announced locally in the future. Vodafone now offers iPhone through thirteen of its operating companies."
As the announcement states, having an iPhone deal is nothing new for Vodafone (in June last year it simultaneously secured iPhone contracts in 10 countries), but nabbing an agreement in the UK remains a big deal. Perhaps more importantly, prospective UK iPhone owners will now have a) more choice when purchasing a handset, and b) hopefully more competition in terms of pricing.
This leaves T-Mobile and 3 as the only major networks not to offer the handset, though the Orange T-Mobile merger may see the former gather it by proxy. By contrast, whether 3 will be able to negotiate terms with Apple seems more open to question given its (laudable) commitment to free VoIP.
What does seem clear however is Palm Pre or not, O2 looks set for a desertion of disgruntled iPhone customers when their contracts expire. 3G coverage problems, data network failings and controversially high iPhone 3GS tariffs have seen it lose much goodwill over the last year.
That said, I do wonder if Apple will continue its new found liberalism when it comes to assigning a network(s) when it chooses to announcing its fourth generation model sometime in Q3 2010...