iPhone Euro plans unravel

After prolonged negotiations followed by expensive launch plans, European operators must be dismayed to have seen their marketing plans for Apple's iPhone torn to shreds by court rulings, phone hackers and a lack of consumer interest. If this was not enough, the price of the handset has quickly tumbled from over €1000 to around €650 in less than one month.

The German court ruling forcing T-Mobile to unblock the iPhone has now opened the door to the MVNO Debitel which is offering customers a €600 sign-up bonus to compensate for the added cost of buying the phone without a T-Mobile contract.

Meanwhile, Orange France is preparing to offer the iPhone for a base cost of €649 plus a charge of €100 for access to other operator networks--and claims to have over 50,000 orders already pre-booked. However, this pricing already looks in doubt given that the handset is on sale at lower prices via several French Internet sites despite the threat of legal action by Orange.

O2 in the UK is said to have sold over 100,000 iPhones, but, according to rumours, only a quarter have been activated. This unusual state of affairs has been caused, apparently, by the devices being purchased as Christmas gifts which should be activated around this period. Another cause could be that they have been unlocked and used/re-sold SIM free--or both.

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