December 7, 2007 / 12:08 AM / 11 years ago

O2 hopes to nab iPhone clients from rivals

LONDON (Reuters) - Three out of four buyers of the trendy iPhone in Britain will be new O2 customers won from rival mobile networks, according to the new head of O2 which won an exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in Britain.

Journalists test an Apple iPhone following its introduction in Berlin September 19, 2007. Three out of four buyers of the trendy iPhone in Britain will be new O2 customers won from rival mobile networks, according to the new head of O2 which won an exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in Britain. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

“Over time, three out of four customers of the iPhone will be new O2 customers, because you can only get the iPhone by becoming a customer of O2,” Matthew Key, incoming head of 02, told reporters in London in comments embargoed until Thursday.

Key declined to comment on how many of the music-playing and web-browsing handsets had been sold since its launch on November 10, but sales in the first few weeks have been in line with expectations, he said.

O2 has previously said it sold tens of thousands of the handsets in its first weekend but the company has never revealed the commercial terms of its agreement with Apple, in which revenues are shared between the partners.

Key is to take over as the top O2 executive from Peter Erskine, who is stepping down at the start of 2008.

O2 aims to consolidate its leading position in Britain and to recoup ground in the German market. Growth should be driven partly by additional broadband custom, Erskine told reporters at the same meeting.

“Over the next three years there will be 8 million additional DSL customers in each of these two countries and we intend to take quite a share of it,” he said..

“There are small acquisition opportunities in Germany, in the retail business and perhaps in distribution,” Erskine said, but added that at current prices there was no “good value.”

Reporting by Robert Hetz; Translating by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by David Holmes

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