In the US, AT&T has had an exclusive contract with Apple for the iPhone since its release. In the UK, that honor of honors lies with O2. However, it seems that some lucky T-Mobile UK customers can purchase the iPhone 3G through their carrier, despite the fact that they have no agreement with Apple to do so.
The offer isn’t for just any T-Mobile UK customer, as supplies of the phone are limited. Every week up to 150 thriftless customers (those paying more than £75 per month) who are unhappy with their service and threaten to leave may be offered the phone. (sidenote: I’d expect T-Mobile UK to be getting many customers threatening to leave in the coming weeks).
Of course they want to be careful not to anger Apple with this move, considering T-Mobile is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Germany. I doubt it will bother Apple too much, since any iPhone sale is a good one, but I’m sure O2 doesn’t appreciate it.
The Register, who reported the story, is saying that one big reason why T-Mobile may be taking this risk is to gussy themselves up for a sale. Apparently, it’s part of a push by the owners to make T-Mobile UK look a little sexier to buyers, by offering the latest phones with low operational expenditures (despite the fact that it isn’t sustainable).
Engadget is saying that the move may not warrant any legal action, since Apple’s exclusive agreement with O2 doesn’t prevent T-Mobile from being a reseller of unlocked phones; and they are selling these to current customers only, thus not including SIM cards in the iPhones.