UK mobile phone carrier Orange has announced that it will be offering Apple's iPhone on its network later this year, confirming a much-rumoured expansion from the handset's current exclusive O2 contract.
The move will open up opportunities for App Store developers to a much wider audience what will be seen as a key demographic market for casual spending, and follows a recent announcement by the carrier that it is to merge with the UK T-Mobile business to form the biggest network in the country.
Orange was estimated to have had around a 21 per cent market share at the end of 2008, while the link-up with T-Mobile UK will boost that figure to nearer 40 per cent. Adding that to the existing O2 user base will give the iPhone nearly 75 per cent of the UK's total mobile market to hook into.
The App Store has seen a whole new sector of the videogames industry rise up in the past year, with individual successes leading to what some industry figures have labelled a "gold rush" as developers hope to cash in on the growing handset audience and streamlined route to market.