Sources told The Wall Street Journal Friday that Apple's iPhone will become available on two new carriers as soon as October. Currently, the handset is exclusive to Deutsche Telekom, but the plans are reportedly for it to become available on rival carriers Vodafone and O2.
"One said that deals haven't been finalized but added that negotiations are in an advanced stage," the report said. "Deutsche Telekom's exclusive rights to sell the device haven't been extended and could end as early as october, posing a threat to growth in the company's home market."
Deutsche Telekom, which is also the parent company of T-Mobile in the U.S. and elsewhere, has 37 million customers in Germany, while Vodafone has 34.9 million and O2 has 16.3 million.
Elsewhere throughout Europe, the end of exclusivity has resulted in boosted sales for Apple's iPhone. In 2009, the iPhone went multi-carrier in France after a government ruling nullified Apple's exclusive arrangement with Orange. After that, it was estimated that the Apple's handset rose to as high as a 40 percent market share of all smartphone sales in the nation.
In January of this year, Apple officials indicated that they will adopt a multi-carrier strategy where they believe it is appropriate. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said at the time that Apple had selected countries where they believed a multi-carrier system would inevitably happen anyhow.
"I don't want to imply that would happen in every market or that we are headed that way in every market," he said.
Of course, the most largest exclusive arrangement for the iPhone is in the U.S., with AT&T. Rumors of a new CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network have persisted for years, but have not become a reality.
In August, AT&T warned that exclusivity for "a number of attractive handsets" will end, leading some to believe that the company was preparing investors for the loss of iPhone exclusivity.
Adding to the rumors is the fact that the relationship between Apple and AT&T has been a controversial one, as some customers have been vocal in their displeasure with AT&T's service. One recent behind-the-scenes report suggested that Apple nearly ended its partnership with AT&T multiple times over a myriad of issues, as Apple was unwilling to restrict the Internet capabilities of its phone, and AT&T struggled to meet the overwhelming pressure the smartphone placed on his network.
And while Apple has allegedly not yet brokered a deal to extend exclusivity with Deutsche Telekom in the company's home country of Germany, there have also been rumors that the company has talked with Apple about a potential deal to bring the iPhone to carrier T-Mobile in the U.S. Of the four major carriers in America, T-mobile is the smallest, with 33.7 million customers as of July.