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Wednesday, December 05, 2007, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

France's Orange sells nearly 30,000 iPhones in five days

Orange, the mobile arm of France Telecom, said Wednesday that it sold nearly 30,000 of Apple's iPhone in the first five days the handset was available for sale on the French market.

The combined mobile phone and internet device has been available since the 29th of November via 680 Orange storefronts, the Orange online store, and the carrier's customer services telephone sales division.

Orange had previously said that it hoped to sell nearly 100,000 iPhones by the end of the calendar year, meaning it would have needed to move a bit more than 3,000 iPhones per day through the holidays. The initial 5-day tally eases that burden somewhat, reducing the per-day sales required to meet that milestone by 300 to approximately 2,700 per day.

Of those purchasing an iPhone in France, 80 percent chose to sign up for a dedicated "Orange for iPhone" plan at the same time, according to Orange, which also offers the handset unlocked and without service contracts. Nearly 50 percent of those purchasing the Apple phone were new to Orange or migrating from a rival carrier.

"This is a very good score, especially as one in two iPhone purchases is accompanied by a new Orange line subscription", said Louis-Pierre Wenes, Executive Director in charge of Orange's France operations. "This confirms that the iPhone will make an active contribution to the acquisition of new customers."

The rate at which French consumers are adopting iPhone appears to have far outpaced those in the UK following the handset's local launch in the region on November 9th. Though Apple's exclusive UK wireless provider, O2, has not released any sales data, reports suggested that the carrier activated just 26,500 of the touch-screen handsets during its initial two-weeks on the UK market.

Like Orange, O2 has stated that it also hopes to sell 100,000 units by the close of the year.