Three has cut an exclusive deal with Apple to sell the iPhone 4S on contract in over 55 Apple Premium Reseller stores across the UK.
The deal, which kicks off this week, sees the iPhone 4S made available on contract for the first time in Apple’s franchised stores, which are run by 10 franchise partners.
The franchised stores, which already sell iMacs, iPads, iPods and Apple accessories, will sell the iPhone 4S on Three’s The One Plan tariff. The tariff offers 2,000 minutes, 5,000 texts and all-you-can-eat data on a 24 month contract starting from £25 per month.
The move is seen by analysts as further evidence of Apple’s strategy to increase volume share and market penetration by expanding iPhone sales into secondary markets. The Premium Reseller branches tend to be located in smaller cities and large towns where they are not in direct competition with Apple’s own flagship stores.
Apple Premium Resellers will connect iPhone contract sales to Three via a dedicated portal built and managed by Three’s distribution partner Micro-P. The distributor will also handle all debit, credit and guaranteed commission transactions.
Apple’s Premium Resellers include Solutions Inc., Cancom, Stormfront Retail, Albion, KRCS, Western Computer and AT Computers.
Industry analysts hailed the exclusive contract as a coup for Three and a possible reward for the high volumes of iPhone contract sales the operator is delivering. Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said: ‘Apple has a pretty obvious but clever strategy that I am surprised other manufacturers don’t follow as it is hugely successful. They start with the biggest retailers at the highest prices and move down bit by bit. It is a very structured, disciplined and well organised strategy.’
He added: ‘Apple’s decision to choose Three could also reflect the success Three has had selling the iPhone.’
A Three spokesman said: ‘We’re focussed on ensuring customers can get hold of our products and services in as many places as possible, and this is a great new channel.’
Apple declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Apple gave its first insight into iPhone 4S sales when it reported its first quarter results this week, shortly after Mobile went to press. The US manufacturer had predicted a 38% increase in revenue compared to 2011. Analysts predicted Apple had sold between 30 million and 32 million iPhones during the quarter.