In an exclusive announcement to TechRadar (which, bizarrely, has not been followed with much detail), Kevin Russell CEO of 3UK has announced that 3 will also be carrying the iPhone in the UK in 2010.
Speaking at at a recent event he said:
“The reason we haven’t stocked many smartphones is we were [prioritising building our customer base], which is 180 degrees different to the other networks. They’ve gone down the smartphone route first, but we want smartphones on top of millions of customers. But you will see us moving more into smartphones during 2010.”
“We like the way we’ve come through to a position where we could stock the iPhone, but it’s not a product we have to rely on.”
Although Orange (launching 10th November) and Vodafone (early 2010) will both have beaten 3 to the launch, this announcement will mean that the iPhone 3GS will be available through all of the big operators (assuming T-Mobile and Orange’s merger is OK-ed) before the end of next year.
At last. Hooray.
It’s also likely to signal the beginning of some price competition over the device, which is even better news… Whilst Orange and Vodafone have both hinted that they’ll be aiming to match O2′s current pricing, 3 have always been more aggressive in this respect with their tariffs and will be hoping to attract those previously put off an iPhone by cost. Their extensive 3G network, which and increasing focus on offering data-centric products may also attract some of those frustrated by O2′s relatively poor performance in this area.
I’m delighted to see 3 adding a number of desirable top-end devices to their range – the iPhone, HTC Hero, Nokia N86 and Huawei MiFi are all class-leading devices now announced by 3 and will go a long way to shaking off the ‘low rent, poor choice’ criticisms beset them in their early days… However, I hope they can up their customer-service game to meet the needs of the more demanding customers these devices will attract too.