French mobile phone operator Orange will sell unlocked iPhones for
The four "Orange for iPhone" tariffs include free access to the iPhone's visual voicemail service, and what Orange describes as "unlimited" access to e-mail and the Internet.
However, the small print strictly forbids reading newsgroups, making VoIP (voice over IP) calls, sharing files over peer-to-peer services or using the iPhone as a modem with a notebook PC. Orange also warns that it may limit traffic above 500MB per month, or around 1MB of data for every waking hour.
Orange is the fourth mobile network operator to sell the iPhone, following in the footsteps of AT&T in the U.S., T-Mobile in Germany and O2 in the U.K. Twelve Orange retail stores, including a brand new one on the prestigious Champs Elys
When the phone launched in the U.S. in June, Apple forced anyone buying an iPhone there to sign up with AT&T for a two-year contract if they wanted to use it. That policy marked the start of a game of cat-and-mouse, with hackers trying to unlock the phone, and Apple regularly updating its firmware to thwart their efforts.
Apple's plans for similar exclusive deals in Europe came unstuck days after the phone's launch with O2 and T-Mobile on November 9, when rival operator Vodafone sued T-Mobile under a German law that makes it illegal for retailers to force customers to buy one product (in this case an airtime agreement) in order to obtain another.
T-Mobile now sells unlocked versions of the iPhone that will work with any operator's network for
The unlocked price of the iPhone in France compares favorably with that of Nokia's N95, which sells for
Orange will also unlock the iPhones sold with an airtime contract: The fee is
The cheapest of the four tariffs it is offering, at
Around 63,000 visitors to the Orange iPhone Web site have signed up to receive information by e-mail, Orange said.
In the U.S., Apple sold a million iPhones in the first 74 days, while in the U.K. operator O2 said it expects to sell 200,000 in the two months following the Nov. 9 launch. Local media reports, though, say that O2 activated around 26,500 iPhones in the first two weeks they were on sale.