Friday, December 14, 2007

The French Aren't so Lucky

French iPhone buyers may have to look twice before purchasing an unlocked iPhone within the country. Despite being the only country to sell unlocked iPhones (which retail at €649 each) and not locked down to a specific provider, the handsets are turning out to be country-locked. In these cases, the iPhones will function on alternate wireless carriers, but still require SIM cards used for French carriers. Should the owner want to call outside of France, they'll still need to locate a French carrier and pay roaming fees and loading an Orange iPhone with a SIM card from the U.S., Germany or any other unspecified country will temporarily cripple its cellular functions, including phone calls and SMS messaging. Such a restriction is likely in place to help protect the American and UK markets, where Apple holds exclusive carrier contracts. Estimates have placed the number of unlocked iPhones sold in France at 20% of the overall market, a point which suggests that French iPhone customers are willing to pay a premium to have their wireless carrier of choice.

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