Orange exec says iPhone selling 'very well' in France

Sales in France of the much-hyped Apple iPhone after the holiday season are going better than mobile carrier Orange expected, Didier Lombard, head of Orange parent France Telecom, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

'We thought it would slow at the beginning of the year but we were wrong,' he told The Associated Press during a gathering at the Elysee Palace after a speech by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Lombard said that sales are going 'very well,' but declined to provide figures due to the blackout period ahead of the announcement of France Telecom's full year results February 6.

Orange said December 5 that it had sold 30,000 iPhones in the five days after it went on sale in France, the Associated Press report said.

Lombard had previously said he hopes to sell as many as 100,000 of the handsets by the end of 2007, the report said.

In a challenge to Apple's strategy thus far to offer its iPhone through an exclusive mobile operator for each region, Orange is selling unlocked handsets to comply with French consumer law, the report said.

Orange has sold 'very, very few' iPhones without a contract, Lombard said.