Unlocked iPhones Go on Sale in France

November 30th, 2007 - 12:04 am ICT by admin  

Those distant clicking sounds are Apple’s iPhones being unlocked in Europe. On Wednesday, mobile provider Orange began selling unlocked iPhones, without a long-term contract, for the translated price of $1,106. T-Mobile is already offering unlocked iPhones in Germany.

Orange stores stayed open late Wednesday night to kick off the sale of locked and unlocked iPhones. As unlocked devices, the iPhone can connect to carriers other than Orange, a unit of France Telecom. Didier Lombard, France Telecom CEO, had promised earlier this week that Orange’s unlocked price would be lower than the unlocked price T-Mobile is charging in Germany — about $1,471.

Court Decision in Germany

When locked to a service plan, the purchase price in France is $589. Orange will unlock any iPhone that has been purchased with a 12- or 24-month contract for $148 more during the first six months. After that, French law stipulates that unlocking be done for free.

The carriers have not been unlocking the phones out of choice. In Germany, a court had ruled in favor of Vodafone Group PLC, which had sued to demand that T-Mobile open the iPhone to other service providers. The suit was based on a German law prohibiting retailers from requiring consumers to buy one product in order to get another.

In France, carriers are required by law to offer unlocked phones. In the UK, where O2 launched the iPhone, the device is still sold locked.

In the U.S., the number of iPhones that have been unlocked by hacking might amount to more than early estimates. According to news reports, Apple executives said last month that about 250,000 of the 1.4 million iPhones sold in the U.S. have not yet been registered with the only official carrier, AT&T.

But that proportion of unlocked phones is low compared to Orange’s breakdown. Chris Hazelton, an analyst with…

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