Sacre bleu! Unlocked iPhone could go for just US$742 in France

Final prices will be released when Apple's iPhone goes on sale

On the eve of the iPhone's French debut, Didier Lombard, CEO of France Telecom, said today that his company's Orange subsidiary would sell unlocked devices at a "significantly lower" price than the US$1,472 that rival T-Mobile is charging in Germany.

Final prices will be released when Apple's iPhone goes on sale at Orange retail stores, but in a radio interview with Europe 1 today, Lombard said he will undercut T-Mobile's price for unlocked phones. French law requires that cell phones be sold without requiring customers to commit to a carrier contract.

Lombard told Radio 1 that the unlocked iPhone's price would be between US$742 and US$1,481, respectively.

Last week, Deutsche Telekom AG, the owner of T-Mobile, announced it would sell unlocked iPhones for US$1,480 after a German court slapped it with a preliminary injunction. The injunction stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Vodafone Group PLC's in-country subsidiary, which had asked the court to force T-Mobile to open the iPhone to other carriers.

In France, Orange will sell the locked-in iPhones for the same as T-Mobile in Germany, Lombard said. Several plans -- called "tariffs" in Europe -- will be offered, including a two-year contract for US$73 per month and a 12-month contract for US$79. The one-year contract will be the shortest offered with the iPhone.

Lombard also said that Orange has set an end-of-year sales goal of 100,000 iPhones.

iPhones are not sold unlocked in the US or Great Britain, but that hasn't stopped an estimated quarter million buyers from using unauthorized hacks to open the device to networks other than Apple's official wireless partners in those two countries, AT&T and O2 (UK), respectively.

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