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Report: iPhone outpacing rivals in Europe without 3G

Despite a very familiar set of limitations, the iPhone is showing continued demand in Europe and leading its immediate rivals, says RBC analyst Michael Abramsky.

Sales checks in France, Germany, and the UK have all revealed strong sales both during and immediately after each country's respective launches. While T-Mobile's initial launch saw only 10,000 iPhones sold in Germany on the first day, many of the carrier's 700 retail stores continue to reflect a "solid" demand of 15-20 iPhones sold per week, Abramsky says.

France has so far proven the most immediately successful of the three nations, having registered roughly 63,000 customers on Orange's website amid reports of sellouts at some of the cellular provider's Parisian stores. Britain's O2 sold between 30,000 and 40,000 iPhones on its first weekend.

Surprisingly, reports from all three countries point to the device outrunning competitors that should theoretically fare better than the iPhone due to features or price. Phones like the HTC Touch or LG Prada are often heavily subsidized or offer features that the iPhone lacks, but are still being outsold by Apple's first offering.

The iPhone is even outselling Nokia's well-known N95 smartphone, which has sold more than a million units in the UK since its March release, the analyst writes.

Europeans are still hesitant to buy the iPhone due to the lack of fast 3G Internet access, its stripped-down Bluetooth feature set, and an unusually high price. However, the statistics suggest that a future 3G iPhone will be more of a pleasant upside to the iPhone's sales than an absolute necessity, Abramsky notes.

The strength of the iPhone is leading RBC to increase its total iPhone forecast to 12.5 million phones sold worldwide by the end of calendar 2008, 25 percent higher than Apple's stated goal of 10 million. About 4 million of these will come from buyers outside the US and may include countries such as Canada, Italy, and Spain, all of whom are top candidates to receive the iPhone next year.

A popular iPhone in Europe could also result in a "halo" that translates to increased sales for the Mac on the continent, according to the report.