iPhone's big price tag is making it a harder and harder sell, says France telco boss

The next iPhone may not sell as well as past versions thanks to its high cost, warns the CEO of France Telecom.

At $600, unsubsidised price of Apple's iPhone is making it an increasingly difficult product to sell in Europe, according to France Telecom's CEO Stephane Richard.

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Richard told Bloomberg that the number of early adopters willing to fork out big sums of cash for new devices are dwindling in Europe, where customers are seeking lower-priced alternatives to top line models, such as the latest iPhone.

Apple is readying its iPhone production line for a new release possibly by this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, but Richard warned it may not draw the same lines it has consistently attracted with each previous release.

"There are fewer early adopters, and probably with the next release of the iPhone this will be evident," Richard told Bloomberg. "Selling a phone for $600 is getting more and more difficult."

Customers are more "focused on price", he added, with only a "few hundred thousand" people likely to buy the latest iPhone.

Richard's comments follow concerns raised last month by unnamed smaller carriers in France with Europe's competition regulator that Apple is showing preferential treatment towards larger mobile operators. There have also been complaints that Apple's strict terms and sales quotes make it difficult for carriers to promote rival smartphones.

France Telecom last year accelerated its European transformation program in response to the ongoing "price war" across the continent. In France, that competition is coming from the mobile arm of low-cost operator Illiad, known as Free - launched last year, it now has a small but significant chunk of the market. France Telecom had dropped its mobile service plan prices by 10 percent last year and expect similar cuts this year, Richard told Bloomberg.


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