In a deal designed to make the iPhone more ubiquitous than ever, France-based network supplier Orange has announced a deal with technology giant Apple to unleash the iPhone to its customers in 17 countries.

The deal will see Orange selling the iPhone in countries such as Portugal, Romania Egypt and Austria, as well as Orange’s African markets.

The deal could also make the iPhone more competitively priced to customers in a few of these countries: for instance, Vodafone has signed a deal to also bring the iPhone to Egypt, which will throw up some interesting results compared to the single operator model used in the US and UK.

Splitting up

The deal will also help create a more ‘two-tiered’ approach to Apple’s device should the 3G iPhone appear soon as expected, as the necessary high-speed infrastructure isn’t as widespread in some countries.

The iPhone has already reached impressive penetration in countries without an authorised carrier, highlighting the desire for consumers to get their hands on the device regardless of Apple’s plans.

According to statistics from Mobile Research Group, around 500,000 unlocked iPhones are in circulation in Russia, making it the third biggest market after the US and China, the latter also no having a recognised carrier.