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Vodafone sews up iPhone distribution

Ten-country deal feeds Apple's world-domination plan

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Vodafone has signed a deal with Apple to distribute the iPhone in ten of its operating countries - several of which are still 2G-only, which should help clear stocks once the 3G version is launched.

Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey will all be able to experience the joy of multi-touch and manufacturer lock-in thanks to the deal, though prices and delivery dates haven't been set.

It is something of a surprise to see Vodafone doing a deal with Apple, given the way in which iPhone uses exactly the kind of billing relationship Vodafone's CEO claims is inviolate. But it seems likely the world's largest operator is more interested in attaching itself to the Apple brand, and will be hoping that few people actually buy the handsets.

Being able to offload 2G handsets into secondary markets will be very useful for Apple if they do launch a 3G version of the iPhone as generally expected. Still, some of those Vodafone territories will be wanting to get their hands on the 3G version like everyone else. ®

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