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Apple turns to Orange in France

Mobile operator wins iPhone deal

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When is an Apple an Orange? When it's an iPhone it would seem, with the mobile operator winning the French rights to sell the Apple device.

As widely expected France Telecom will start marketing Apple's iPhone in France through Orange, its wireless arm. The two parties announced the deal on Thursday following announcements of similar deals earlier in the week with O2 in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany. This latest deal was announced by France Telecom's chief executive Didier Lombard during a conference in Hanoi.

The iPhone will go on sale in all three countries in early November, just in time for the Christmas rush. Earlier this month Apple said it had sold one million iPhones in the United States - where AT&T has exclusive rights to the device - in the first 74 days it was on sale.

Orange has yet to announce a price for the iPhone in France, though UK buyers can expect to pay £269 (around €385) for the device, while those in Germany will pay €399.

Apple has recently come under fire from early buyers of the device when it announced it was cutting the price of the iPhone by a third - down to $399 from $599 - less than 100 days after the handset was released. The firm's chief executive Steve Jobs said on Tuesday his goal was to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008.

It is still unclear how many handsets Jobs hopes to sell to Irish consumers. Despite the recent flurry of activity in Europe, Apple has yet to choose a mobile operator to carry the device in Ireland. Though after winning the UK contract O2 moved into pole position to get the Irish licence.

A fool and his money are easily parted, however. Just ask the people who bought the iPhone before the discount was announced, and it would be foolhardy indeed to assume that any of the mobile operators in Ireland was a lock to win the contract. It seems Irish consumers eager to get hold of the iPhone will have to wait a little bit longer.

© 2007 ENN

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