updated 09:40 am EST, Tue November 10, 2009
Orange counts 250,000 in preregistrations
Orange on Tuesday became the second official iPhone carrier in the UK, marking an end to an exclusivity held by O2 since late 2007. Some 250,000 pre-subscriptions are said to have been recorded by Orange, which if translated into the first 48 hours of sales could put the launch on par with the original in June 2007, when Apple and AT&T sold 270,000 units in the US. Market research group Mediacells suggests that Orange could generate over £795 million in revenue from the iPhone by the end of 2010, though after the cost of purchasing phones the number may shrink to £500 million. Over 1 million Orange iPhone users are predicted.
The launch has not been without some controversy. Although the company has dispelled rumors that it might block apps like Facebook, Ustream and Spotify, it continues to face criticism over imposing a 750MB limit on its "unlimited" data plans. O2 offers genuinely unlimited data access by contrast, though the company has admitted to poor network performance in some areas.
As a consequence of Orange's arrival, O2 has begun offering several unlocking options for iPhone customers. Those on contract can have their phones unlocked at any time for free, though they are still obliged to carry out the terms of the contract. Pre-paid customers must wait at least 12 months, and then pay a £15 fee, taken out of their account balance. All unlocks are expected to take up to 14 days, and be confirmed by text message.