LONDON While eager customers in the U.S. get their hands on the iPhone today (Friday, June 29), Europeans are having to wait till later in the year and tough negotiation are in place to see which operator will emerge as the winner. Many on the London stock exchange believe Vodafone is in the lead, as its share price has been rising all this week on anticipation it would win the European rights.
While the financial stakes may not be quite as high as was the outcome for the licenses to run third generation networks, the mobile sector is seeing one of the most fiercely contested battles since that struggle, for which operators in Europe paid out, or are paying out, about Euros 70 billion over several decades.
Vodafone faces stiff competition for the exclusive rights to distribute the handset in Europe from rivals such as T-Mobile and Orange, and others in certain European markets.
And despite Apple’s size last year it turned over a fraction of Vodafone’s £31.1 billion (Euros 46.2 billion) in revenues the luster of the brand has ensured that it is holding the upper hand in the negotiations.
AT&T won the five year franchise in the U.S.
Analysts in Europe feel Vodafone's sheer size and spending power are helping it secure the contract. In a research note earlier this week, Credit Suisse said: "The winner could sell more than 6m such devices over the next 3 years. Assuming half these were new customers, this could add 8p to our valuation if Vodafone were to win."
The phone which is predicted to retail at about Euros 450 when it launches in Europe at the end of the year is expected to encourage thousands of mobile customers to ditch their existing contracts to take up with the Apple provider.