So at one point or another, we've heard nearly every European carrier mentioned as the likely frontrunner for Apple's European iPhone rollout. On the one hand, you can chalk that up to the ugly nature of the rumor mill, but on the other hand, it sounds like the carriers themselves were led to believe the same thing, all part of Apple's grand scheme to play them off one another and put together a gloriously lucrative (for itself, anyway) exclusive distribution agreement. The Guardian is reporting that O2 will be announced as the winner of that Pyrrhic prize for the UK market on Tuesday; the win is an enormously costly one, though, with as much as 40 percent of plan revenue (yes, revenue, not profit) going straight back to Cupertino. In other words, Apple turned up the heat on the UK carrier scene until everyone -- Vodafone, Orange, and T-Mobile -- had blinked except for the good chaps at O2. The article also suggests that Carphone Warehouse has been roped in to provide some backup on the retail front out of concerns that O2's retail presence isn't enough to push the iPhone properly, but let's be honest: if you really want an iPhone, you're going to seek it out, aren't you? We can apparently expect similar announcements from T-Mobile for the German market and Orange for France on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, making for a pretty enthralling week for iPhone-starved Europeans (the ones that haven't unlocked, anyway).

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O2 apparently locks up UK iPhone deal, pays through nose