PARIS, Nov 23 (Reuters) - French telecoms operator Orange will offer a two-year service contract for a minimum of 1,176 euros ($1,754) with the Apple (AAPL.O) iPhone, which it will start selling in France on Wednesday evening, Les Echos said.
The newspaper said on Friday Orange had briefly leaked details of its terms of sale for the music-playing, Internet-browsing device on its Website.
France Telecom FTE.PA unit Orange declined to comment.
Apple sold 1.1 million iPhones in the United States between the end of June, when it first went on sale, and the end of September, beating analysts’ forecasts. Thousands of customers queued for days to be among the first to buy one.
The company aims to sell 10 million of the devices by the end of 2008, representing about 1 percent of the total mobile phone market, but industry watchers are unanimous that the iPhone’s impact is far greater than its market share suggests.
As well as raising the bar for other handset makers with the iPhone’s many media features, Apple has broken with tradition by making exclusive deals with one carrier in each country, beginning with AT&T (T.N) in the United States.
In Germany, Apple’s exclusive sales partner T-Mobile (DTEGn.DE) was forced by a court this week to offer customers iPhones that are not locked to the T-Mobile network.
But the 999 euro price at which it will offer unlocked phones, compared with 399 euros with a contract, makes the move almost meaningless.
In France, Orange will also offer the iPhone without a service contract but Les Echos said the price, like in Germany, would be significantly higher. Orange has said the starting price with a contract will be 399 euros.
Les Echos said a 24-month contract would start at 49 euros a month and include two hours of communications, 50 SMS text messages, 10 hours of wi-fi connection and unlimited email.
The price would be 4.50 euros higher every month for a 12-month contract, the minimum term, it added.
France Telecom shares were down 1.8 percent at 25.28 euros by 1130 GMT, underperforming a 0.4 percent-weaker DJ European telecoms index .SXKP.
Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; editing by Sue Thomas