O2's exclusive grip on the Apple iPhone market became another step less tight today when Orange contacted the public with a message entitled "Not long now".

Orange sent out communications to anyone who'd signed up as interested in the possibility of an iPhone on an Orange contract.

The brief message was:

"Hello. Thanks for asking about the new iPhone. We've put your name on our list. So as soon as we've finalised the details of where and when you can get one, we'll drop you another email.

Not long now.

Thanks, Orange"

Earlier this week Orange announced it will soon offer Apple iPhone in the UK. The announcement, which comes as Apple's exclusive deal with O2 ends, follows months of speculation as to whether other UK networks would be able stock the handset.

Vodafone quickly followed in the footsteps of Orange after it revealed that it will also sell the Apple iPhone in the UK. O2 responded stating its continuing relationship with Apple, but also promoting the rival Palm Pre - for which it has UK exclusivity.

A price war is widely expected, but maybe just as important is each carrier's depth of faster-data access via 3G communications.