iPhone could be exclusive to Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse, Europes largest mobile phone retailer, wants exclusive rights to sell the iPhone in the UK later this year.

While the final decision will be down to Apple we wouldn’t bet against them choosing a single retailer for the UK like they did with Cingular in the US.

Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, discussed the iPhone during the companies quarterly results and said he is looking for an exclusive deal with Apple in the UK. Optimistically the company has a pre-order form on their website already.

Although the results for 2006 were very good for Carphone, which has 700 stores in the UK and has signed up 3.26 million subscribers in the last 3 months, it is suffering after losing the rights to sell Vodafone contracts. Since Vodafone signed an exclusive deal with Phones4U Carphone has been unable to sell any Vodafone deals in its stores. Dunstone sees this as the biggest threat for 2007.

If Carphone Warehouse can secure exclusive rights to the iPhone its clear that Vodafone would come running back pretty quickly. For Apple to sign with a retailer in the UK rather than a network makes a lot of sense. Networks are a matter for personal preference and a lot of people would not be willing to switch or pay an upgrade fee to get the iPhone on their current contract. Carphone would have access to the majority of networks, all of them if Vodafone signs another deal, and is best placed to sell more iPhones than any other retailer.

The strong results for 2006 are apparently due to cheap prices of Motorola handsets resulting in large volumes of sales.

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