France Telecom CEO pleased with iPhone take-up

PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - France Telecom FTE.PA has sold more than 70,000 of Apple's AAPL.O multimedia iPhones since they arrived in France on Nov. 28, and the handsets were proving a commercial success, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Some telecoms analysts had suggested the take-up had not been as strong as expected.

“This (the launch of the iPhone in France) has had a positive image impact for us and led to a very positive commercial result,” France Telecom Chief Executive Didier Lombard told BFM radio on Thursday.

Lombard had previously said he expected to sell between 50,000 and 100,000 iPhones between the launch and the end of 2007.

He said on Thursday 48 percent of purchases had been tied to new subscriptions to Orange, France Telecom’s mobile operator.

“Overall, we have sold more than 70,000 units,” he said.

On a separate matter, Lombard said he was taken by surprise by French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed media reforms.

Sarkozy said on Tuesday the government was considering levying an “infinitesimal” tax on broadband and mobile operators’ sales to make up for a shortfall that would be created by scrapping advertising on public television.

“Of course, I did not know anything about, it and I do not think many people did,” Lombard told BFM.

“This could lead us to change our models and to adapt,” he added without elaborating. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt, editing by Will Waterman)