Orange loses its iPhone exclusivity appeal in France

Yesterday, after Orange lost its appeal to retain its position as the exclusive iPhone carrier in France, complainant rival mobile operator Bouygues Télécom was reportedly ready to move on and start offering its own iPhone deals.

Apple's iPhone was made available unlocked through Orange, but at approximately double the price (€749) of a phone under contract with the mobile operator. The deal between Apple and Orange was for five years, with a three year exit provision for Apple.

In September of 2008, rival mobile operator Bouygues Télécom filed a complaint with the French Competition Council, which resulted in an investigation of the possible damage such a price hike would cause. By December, the council had reached a provisional decision to limit the iPhone's exclusivity to three months with Orange.

"The Council takes the view that the exclusive rights granted to Orange, in the conditions in which they were negotiated, may be prohibited by EC and national competition rules," said the group in December, "[They] are likely to do serious and immediate damage to competition in the mobile telephony market and to consumers."

Orange appealed the decision with the Paris Court of Appeals, but yesterday the court handed down its judgment in favor of the Competition Council.

Bouygues Télécom reportedly did not hesitate to say it would soon be carrying the iPhone (pending negotiations with Apple, of course.)

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