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Europe too cynical for iPhone

Just as the uberphone gets some applications

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iPhone sales around Europe have been disappointing, with the French only pocketing 30,000 in the first five days - though that's three times the number T-Mobile managed to shift in Germany. But that's not stopped Google releasing an optimised version of its mobile application suite specially designed for the finger-driven interface.

In the UK O2 won't say how many iPhones it's managed to sell. Our information is that fewer than 30,000 have been activated in Blighty, though apparently many more are waiting under the tree for a Christmas-day activation.

All this compares badly with the 270,000 sold in the USA in the first week, though some of that can be attributed to the delay in getting the technology across the Atlantic - giving the competition an additional five months to refine their offerings.

European customers are also more put off by the lack of 3G, a standard feature on handsets this side of the pond, and fear of being locked into a contract for longer than normal: 20 per cent of the iPhones sold by Orange were unlocked (French law required Orange to offer an unlocked version).

None of this is particularly bad for operators, who have more to fear from iTunes than from the iPhone, and iTunes is only a problem if the handset is very popular. So being associated with a cutting-edge device but without having to share much revenue with Apple will suit them fine.

Orange may have only sold 30,000 iPhones, but in doing so it gained almost 15,000 new customers (the rest were already with Orange or bought unlocked handsets), which is worth a lot more than selling a few handsets. ®

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