UK operators, MVNOs and retailers could all be vying for a
chance to supply the Apple iPad as the manufacturer begin talks with
potential UK suppliers this week.
As Apple executives flew into Britain to begin talks, analysts
said negotiations will be tough and competition stiff, with
contenders having to offer cut throat deals on data packages to
stand a chance of clinching a deal. Nor is Apple expected to
grant any significant exclusivity deal on its new device.
The Apple iPad will go on sale in the US from 3 April and is
expected to arrive in Britain by May.
Analyst Tim Shepherd at Canalys said there are two key issues to
negotiate. 'Operators will be keen to negotiate an exclusivity
deal but I suspect, if there is any exclusivity deal at all, it
will be short - probably no longer than a month or two - as Apple
is keen to get the iPad out quickly.
'The other issue will be how low the operators are prepared to go
on pricing for all-you-can-eat data. AT&T has set the bar low
in the US and Apple will be looking for something similar here.'
Phil Kendall, analyst at Strategy Analytics, said Apple could be
talking to MVNOs and retailers as well as operators. He said: 'I
would be surprised if they are not talking to all five operators
at some level, particularly if they want operators to carry it in
Europe.' He added: 'There is a definite possibility that
Apple could be talking to the likes of Carphone Warehouse, BT and
Virgin as well, particularly if they can offer a compelling
bundle of multimedia catalogue content.'