PARIS (Reuters) - Apple Inc’s iPhone went on sale in France on Wednesday with operator Orange predicting nearly half a million users in a year.
Didier Lombard, chief executive of Orange parent France Telecom, told a news conference analysts’ forecasts of between 400,000 and 500,000 subscribers within the first year were in line with the company’s own planning.
“That is the middle of the range of our forecasts,” Lombard said.
Hundreds of eager buyers lined up in front of Orange’s boutique on Paris’ Champs Elysees just before the launch late on Wednesday afternoon. The handset was sold in just 12 cities on Wednesday before a nationwide roll-out on Thursday.
Orange will offer the unlocked iPhone for 649 euros ($956) to which the user will have to add 100 euros if another operator is used, the head of Orange France told Le Figaro newspaper.
In Germany where the iPhone was launched three weeks ago T-Mobile offers the device without a contract for 999 euros.
Orange confirmed it had agreed to share revenue from iPhone subscriptions with Apple in return for its exclusivity agreement but declined to comment on analysts estimates that Apple’s cut could be around 25 percent.
Orange France director Louis-Pierre Wenes told Le Figaro the exclusivity agreement was for “more than two years” but did not cover distribution.
“To be clear, Apple could one day extend distribution to other players ... But in that case we have guarantees that they will be sold with Orange contracts,” he was quoted as saying.
Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer and Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by David Holmes