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Friday, January 04, 2008, 08:25 am PT (11:25 am ET)

First month French iPhone sales fall shy of target

Orange, the mobile arm of France Telecom, said it sold over 70,000 Apple iPhones since the touch-screen handset made its debut in France during the final week of November.

The 4-week sales total is approximately 30,000 units short of the "little under 100,000" unit target publicized by Orange chief executive Didier Lombard during a November 27th interview with Europe 1 radio.

However, in announcing the sales figures this week, a spokesperson for the French mobile operator instead told the Agence France-Presse that the 70,000 unit total was 'right in line' with its target 'of 50-100,000 units.'

Orange had previously said that it sold 30,000 iPhones during the handset's first week on the market, meaning that the weekly sales rate fell to an average 13,000 units during the three weeks thereafter.

Of the 70,000 units, 48 percent were sold to new Orange subscribers and less than 3,500 were formally purchased unlocked, the mobile operator added.

Meanwhile, separate reports on Friday suggested that iPhone sales in UK gained momentum in the region during the holiday rush.

A piece published by the TimesOnline comments on rumors that Carphone Warehouse, the iPhone distribution partner of exclusive UK carrier O2, could soon see a buyout bid.

According to the report, day traders have been talking up "soar away Christmas sales particularly of iPhones." It adds that British retailer DSG International recently issues a warning over slower than expected notebook sales. The reason DSG’s notebook sales have suffered may be that people "have been buying iPhone instead," the report said.