France Telecom's exclusive contract voided


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Bloomberg reports that France's antitrust regulator has ruled Orange (France Telecom)'s exclusive iPhone contract is anti-competitive and must be suspended.

While exclusive contracts aren't anticompetitive by definition, the Conseil de la Concurrence ruled this three-year contract, "due to its length and its scope, as well as the desirability of the iPhone [Ed--emphasis added], is of the type to strengthen the pre-eminent position of Orange."

Assuming France Telecom loses a planned appeal, the ruling by the French regulator will allow other French wireless carriers to sell and support Apple's iPhone. The complaint that led to the ruling was filed by Bouygues SA, France's third-largest carrier.

Previously, France Telecom said it has sold over 600K iPhones in the device's first year in that country.

Viva la $99 iPhone!

C'est la guerre! Alas the $99 iPhone definitely dead for the time being, but internal documents by those dumpster divers at Engadget details about what is coming.

At 9am on Sunday, Dec 28, Wal-Mart will begin selling Apple's standard 3G iPhones models for $197 (8GB) and $297 (16GB). And, yes, a standard AT&T two-year iPhone contract is required.

Engadget adds that an internal pilot program kicks off today at 488 Wal-Mart stores across the nation.

Editor's note: The statement by French regulators that exclusivity is illegal in part because of the highly desirable nature of the iPhone is classic.

"Sacre bleu! What eez zees? Non, non, non! You cannot 'ave eet all too yourself--eet eez too powerful!"

That's just way too much style (and substance) for US regulators, but here's (vainly) hoping Apple gets a clue...

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