With considerable fanfare, France Telecom's (NYSE:FTE) mobile division Orange is divulging some stats showing that the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is selling like hotcakes -- er, make that crepes -- in France. The wireless operator noted that it sold 30,000 iPhones in just the first five days of offering the multimedia device.
That number may pale in comparison to the 270,000 iPhones sold in one weekend in the U.S. when AT&T (NYSE:T) launched the device, but it's still an impressive number. The price of the iconic device started out at $599 in the U.S., but was quickly reduced to $399, causing something of an uproar among early adopters who'd paid the higher price. Early adopters in France are willing to shell out $585 with a contract. It remains to be seen whether the price there will rapidly be dramatically reduced as well.
Orange also noted that 20% of purchasers were willing to pay an additional $220 not to lock the phone into a long-term contract. On top of that, some 1,500 were willing to pony up roughly $950 to buy the device with no service plan at all -- theoretically, in hopes of activating the device with some other carrier.
Orange also noted that of the 30,000 new French iPhone owners, 48% activated a new line with Orange. Much like the boost that the iPhone brought AT&T in U.S. subscriptions, the iPhone thus far seems to be a good tool to help Orange steal customers from its rivals.
While early indications suggest that the iPhone will be a popular device no matter where it's sold, more telling information will come for investors after the holidays, when the iPhone's ability to compete against other smartphones will become clearer. Devices such as the N95 from Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and BlackBerry models from Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) have enjoyed brisk sales internationally, helping to buoy the shares of both companies.
The iPhone will have a greater impact on the industry -- and investments in individual wireless companies -- in the degree to which it can expand the market to new audiences, rather than just taking away market share from other device makers. I'm guessing that Apple and the iPhone are doing more of the former than the latter. If I'm right, even direct competitors should be happy in the end.
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Fool contributor Dave Mock has never heard himself snore. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. France Telecom is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy knows when you're sleeping and awake. Creepy, huh?