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Friday, December 19, 2008

Apple Ordered to End Exclusive iPhone Deal in France

Orange may soon see some competition from Bouygues Telecom SA

News that Apple must now allow operators other than France Telecom's Orange SA to sell its popular iPhone has just hit the wires. The French competition regulator is acting amidst complaints from Orange rival Bouygues Telecom SA, the No. 3 mobile operator in France.

Orange rival Bouygues Telecom SA reportedly filed a complaint with the regulator over the arrangement between Orange France and Apple, back in September 2007, when Orange became the iPhone's exclusive distributor in France since the phone was launched last year.

The regulator said that Wednesday's order was more of a protective measure and is currently still investigating Bouygues' complaint, according to an official report. A statement issued by the French competition regulator argued that “Apple's exclusive arrangement with Orange posed a 'serious and immediate threat' to competition in the mobile telecommunications sector, and increased costs for mobile phone users who sought to change operators,” the report notes.

Bouygues Telecom evidently welcomed the ruling, adding that it hoped to begin selling the iPhone shortly. Orange, for its part, wasn't available for comments. Nevertheless, the well-established mobile operator is expected to issue its stance soon enough.

Orange began selling Apple's iPhone in Nov. 2007. The carrier announced it had sold a whopping 216,000 units by September 30, 2008. Upon signing the deal with Apple last year, Orange France revealed it was quite happy with reaching the end of negotiations on the terms of the phone's release. At the time, Didier Lombard, CEO, France Telecom, stated.

“The iPhone is a marvelous product and will change how people think about mobile. I'm delighted that it is launching in France through Orange, and I'm sure that our customers share my excitement. Our partnership with Apple is a natural fit, because we are two global brands who share the same values of simplicity and innovation. It's going to be a very merry Christmas for Orange customers all over the country!” Lombard said.

Apple Ordered to End Exclusive iPhone Deal in France

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