iPhone, exclusivity and the great British public

"Orange and Vodafone will also undoubtedly benefit from the hype generated by all things iPhone," Hartley added. "However, the degree to which they benefit depends on the tariff plans associated with the device. We do not believe that they will be able to differ dramatically from O2 on the device costs (Apple's sales terms will dictate that). However, they could exploit differences in their tariff plans."

Indeed, the fact that O2 currently has 100 per cent UK iPhone market share, with anyone who wanted one urgently having already signed up to the network, other operators had a job on their hands catching up, according to Hartley. If history repeats itself, operators have narrowed such gaps historically with pricing tactics and clever marketing.

Of course, it's not a totally unselfish move on Apple's part either. The computing giant is set to benefit from casting its net a little wider among UK operators, combined with strong App Store revenue, according to Wheeler.

While O2, Orange and Vodafone are big mobile forces to be reckoned with, let us not forget where 3 and T-Mobile fit in. Or don't, as the case may be.

"As for T-Mobile and 3, this is another example of them slipping behind in the mobile data space. 3 was founded on mobile data services, but is now seen more as a purveyor of cheap minutes and texts. T-Mobile proudly went to market with the first Android handset, only to be beaten by Vodafone to the second. However, the iPhone deal is more of an irritation than a crisis," Hartley added.

"T-Mobile at least carries the iPhone in Germany and at the current rate there is every reason to suspect that it could also have it in the UK at some point. For 3 the issue of being sub-scale is far more pressing than not having a device on its portfolio. Both will benefit from the halo effect from the renewed iPhone hype."

There's also the Orange/T-Mobile deal waiting in the wings. If the merger gets the green light from regulators, it's natural to assume T-Mobile may benefit from Orange's iPhone deal. However, what if the deal doesn't go through for some reason? That raises lots of as-yet unanswered questions.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.