Carphone Warehouse Concedes iPhone Exclusivity To Networks

Carphone Warehouse says it has abandoned hope of following Cingular/AT&T in securing an exclusive partnership to retail Apple’s iPhone, according to the Times of London. Europe’s largest mobile phone retailer announced its intent to strike an exclusivity deal immediately after Steve Jobs held up a prototype in January. Though indicating Carphone Warehouse’s failure to win such a partnership, founder Craig Charles Dunstone’s remarks (which were unattributed but it’s known the company held an investor’s day on Tuesday) do suggest Apple is interested in emulating its Cingular/AT&T hook-up – “[Dunstone] conceded yesterday that Apple is likely to strike a partnership with a mobile network operator, making it unlikely that the store will be a sole distributor”, Times reported.

A Guardian report last month claimed Apple was indeed seeking an exclusive partner, with “industry insiders” holding Vodafone as a likely candidate. Interestingly, Carphone Warehouse late last year lost the right to sell Vodafone contracts other than renewals and pre-paids so it is questionable whether it will get the iPhone in its stores even if Vodafone turns out to win Apple’s favor.