The iPhone's going to be sold by Orange in the UK as well as 02. I confess I was surprised at the announcement since I'd assumed 02 taking on the Palm Pre was as good as a statement that they no longer expected a monopoly on any other smartphone.
What's really interesting about this, though, is that it commoditises the iPhone in a way that wouldn't have been imaginable only a couple of years ago. More than one supplier selling the same bit of tin is going to mean the only way they can differentiate themselves, pretty quickly, will be on price.
This is where the whole debate becomes confused. iPhones sold on price? That's kind of OK because the technology is maturing, but then where's the incentive for the mobile company to sell them in the first place if there's no money to be made on them?
My guess is that Apple has realised, as it has in other territories already, that it's time to stop pretending the iPhone - neat though it is - is some sort of engineering miracle and start selling it as a phone again. This means going multi-channel, and it means more than one announcement is likely to be due; I have no 'in' here but I suspect Orange will be the first of a couple of iPhone announcements in the very near future.
This also means Apple will have to stop going on about iPhones as if they're the most exciting thing on the planet, ever, and find another product to excite everyone, just as it did when the iPod became a commodity.
My money is on a Mac tablet in January.